Player ratings

Player ratings and analysis: Fire 2-2 Union

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

The pattern is becoming all too familiar for the 2014 Union as late goals and set pieces continue to cause the team problems.

In Chicago on Saturday, the offense was finally able to secure that elusive second goal, but the defense failed to hold a late lead once again. I’ve been as positive as anyone in the early going this season, saying the performances have been good and the results will come. But how many times can we discuss the same problems after the team lets another victory escape their grasp?

Questionable second half subs

It’s almost gotten to be something to set your clock to: Antoine Hoppenot enters the match between the 60th and 65th minute. Maybe Hackworth’s thinking on leaving Conor Casey on in the second half was that the big man could have been valuable on set pieces and holding up play for a team that was trying to absorb pressure. But the clearly still unfit Casey looked gassed after the hour mark and hardly contributed to the match in the second half.

With a number of defensive players available off the bench, and the team clinging to a narrow one goal lead with the Fire pushing for an equalizer, John Hackworth chose to bring in Corben Bone for his first Union appearance, replacing Leo Fernandes. If Michael Lahoud is available on the bench and not used in this situation, we are left to wonder just when we might see the midfielder in this season. Hackworth chose to dress two center backs, with Austin Berry and Ethan White also in the 18, but left them on the bench with Chicago pushing the play late.

Zac MacMath needed that

The early part of 2014 has not been kind to the Union No. 1. First, Philadelphia traded up to the top pick in the SuperDraft to land goalkeeper Andre Blake. The young season underway, MacMath himself has come under fire for not only failing to make big saves, but for letting in goals that some have expected to be saved, namely the shot from distance in Columbus. Thus far, MacMath only has 10 saves compared to 6 goals against in 2014.

But with the Union on the brink of losing in Chicago, after Aaron Wheeler’s foul on Juan Luis Anangonó in stoppage time, MacMath stepped up and made his two biggest saves of the season so far.

Mike Magee’s spot kick was well placed, low, and to MacMath’s right. But the goalkeeper guessed correctly and got down quickly to make the save. The reflex to get up and make himself big on the rebound was almost even more impressive. Union fans can only hope the boost in confidence that must follow such good work will help the young goalkeeper to regain the form he had at the end of last season.

There are no more questions about who should start on the back line

Okugo, Berry, Williams and Gaddis should be your starters at home on Saturday against Real Salt Lake.

Aaron Wheeler put in a good performance against Montreal, but his inexperience was plainly evident the draw in Chicago. Austin Berry has done nothing to lose his job besides pick up a knock early in the season. In the season opener against New England, he was immense, winning anything in his area. Before he left that match early with injury, he also looked in control. The big man has the toughness, aerial presence, and experience of two years as a starter in MLS to be a good partner for Amobi Okugo.

Fabinho has been the weak link on the back line all season for the Union. The questions about how to fit Ray Gaddis and Sheanon Williams into the same side were answered at halftime on Saturday when John Hackworth pulled the struggling Brazilian and moved Gaddis to the left to better defend Patrick Nyarko. It’s still debatable whether Gaddis can turn in the same performances as he did from the right side in the season’s early going. The young defender says he’s worked on his left foot during the offseason, and it’s time to see if that work has paid off.

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 7

See above.

Amobi Okugo – 5

Misplayed a long ball, slipped, and was slow to recover on Chicago’s first goal. The usually sure-footed Okugo was also responsible for a number of half clearances throughout.

Aaron Wheeler – 3

Lost track of Mike Magee on the Fire’s first goal. Committed an inexcusable foul in the dying minutes to give Magee a chance to win the game from the penalty spot. Against Montreal, he put in a Team of the Week performance. This week, he made everyone wonder if Austin Berry is ready to return.

Fabinho – 3

Had no answer for Patrick Nyarko and was correctly subbed at halftime. With Sheanon Williams back in the lineup, the Brazilian might have made the closing argument for moving Ray Gaddis to left back.

Ray Gaddis – 5

Did better with the speedy Nyarko than the hapless Fabinho after being switched to the left side. Still, after a couple of strong performances, Gaddis looked very average in Chicago.

Vincent Nogueira – 5

Covered a lot of ground but did not turn in the kind of dominant shift he has had in the Union’s first few games. Was positive with his passing and movement, and it was his powerful shot from distance that led to Edu’s first half goal.

Maurice Edu – 5

Similar to Nogueira, Edu covered a lot of ground but could not help put a solid hold on the center of the park. Took his goal well. But you can’t help wondering, did the travel to Arizona to link up with the USMNT drain the midfielder? After rarely losing out on a 50-50 ball in the early part of the season, Edu was bodied off the ball and dispossessed in key places a few times in against Chicago.

Brian Carroll – 4

Failed to protect the backline for much of the game, particularly the first 15 minutes and long stretches of the second half.

Sebastien Le Toux – 3

Poor showing from the Frenchman, who disappeared for large portions of the match. Only completed 14 of 27 attempted passes.

Leo Fernandes – 6

Wasn’t shooting on his goal, but good service leads to good things. After being involved in some nice moves in the first half, he faded significantly as the game wore on. Still, whether as a 60 minute starter or super sub off the bench, he’s earned his place on the field.

Conor Casey – 4

Outside of his one strong run in the first half, a very quiet performance from the big man. Still looks a good distance away from full match fitness and struggled to stay involved in the match in the second half.


Sheanon Williams – 6

Took a beating in his first match of the season, but kept getting up and coming back for more. Good to see his long throws mixed into the offensive arsenal.

Corben Bone – 3

Did little to contribute after coming on in the second half. Was responsible for the foul leading up to the tying goal. It was a good foul, but he could have committed it in the Chicago half. With a crowded midfield pool, Bone can’t have helped his chances.

Antoine Hoppenot – n/a

Came on for Conor Casey about 25 minutes too late.

The Geiger Counter

Chris Penso – 3

Could have called 3 PKs before finally awarding Chicago one in stoppage time. Seemed to completely lose control of the match for a period in the second half when things became very chippy.

Preferred line up next week against Real Salt Lake

MacMath, Okugo, Berry, Williams, Gaddis, Carroll, Edu, Nogueira, Maidana, Fernandes, Wenger

Despite having a goal and an assist on the season, Sebastien Le Toux has seems out of sync within the new look Union midfield. With Leo Fernandes playing his best soccer in a Union shirt, he’s earned a starting role. Having Le Toux available to run at tired defenders for 30 minutes in the second half is a nice luxury, as well. Conor Casey still looks to be regaining fitness, so don’t be surprised to see Andrew Wenger inserted straight into the starting XI.


  1. John Davis says:

    Can you begin giving Hackworth a rating along with the players and the ref? I think it would be instructive and very revealing.

    • people ask for this a lot but they have said many times that this isnt going to happen

    • kingkowboys says:

      This is probably the third straight week someone has brought up a coach rating and the answer is always the same…NO. It’s not going to happen.
      It’s annoying to see that as the first comment.

    • The Black Hand says:

      These guys get behind the scenes and bring a lot of info to us. Being directly critical towards the manager could jeopardize that. Let’s save the manager-bashing for US. I’ll start…Hackworth and his tactical approaches are on par with a good American high school coach. He is very limited in his variations and appears to have little ability to read an opponent and adjust accordingly. He refuses to see the limitations, of his players, and insists on ramming that square peg into the round hole. I’d give him a 1…for wearing a tie.

  2. The reffing at the end of the game was criminal. I agree with the penalty against Wheeler, but as you said he missed two penalties back-to-back, among other things. I remember a sequence around the midfield line where something like 5 players were taken out and nothing was called, and it ended with a missed penalty call at both sides. Very poor performance.

  3. I still would like to see a 4-4-2, but idk how well Wenger and Casey would fit in together. These ratings were pretty spot on. This could’ve a very worrisome match as we looked out of sync and there weren’t many answers on the bench. I’m hoping it was just a one off.
    Pretty sure hack will have the same lineup next game with the exception of Williams in. It was just one of those matches where nothing seemed to fit. I was super excited for a while bc I thought we had really stolen 3 points.
    This is the best game to try Carroll sitting and Beckerman will be only shielding, losing a man in the attack.
    Preferred lineup.
    Macmath, Williams, Okugo, Berry, Gaddis, Fernandes, Edu, Nogueira, Maidana, Casey, Wenger.
    Bring on Carroll And Le Toux late.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I think the Wenger trade just solidified the 4-3-3 for the rest of the year, barring a trade at manager.

      • Hack said Wenger’s “Versatile.” We don’t have a good enough player as a lone striker. I’d like to see the Wenger-Casey pairing.

  4. I think most of your ratings are pretty much right on. The only one I think is a little off is Aaron Wheeler. He made an ill-advised challenge late that nearly cost the U the game but he did a solid job for the vast majority of the game. In fact, the Chicago commentators were practically awarding him “man of the match” honors. Not yet convinced he is better than Berry though.

    • Tend to agree with this. He was having to deal with covering some extra ground on his left [cough-abino]. Berry might still be preferred in the long run, but it’s not as easy a decision in my mind.

      • Berry on for Carroll and Okugo to DM. Okugo is too small to be playing CB anyway.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I must have missed when pigs began flying… cause (unfortunately) that will be the next time Okugo lines up at DM

      • Well they may fly as soon as the European window opens up again this summer because Amobi is out of here ASAP.

      • Nah. Wheeler missed a lot of little things a good CB should know. Papas commented on it quite a few times. He’s too much of a risk. Spot starts when needed to gain experience.

  5. I feel like the team is starting to come together but a lack of a consistent line-up and guidance from the coach are playing a a major part in the slow developement of this relationship. This is hacks opportunity. If he can’t coach these guys I don’t know whether he can coach in this league.
    Lets hope this goes a long way towards macamths confidence and that out starting four in the back becomes a strength.
    All in all this is a more enjoyable team to watch.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      I would argue that the lineups have been fairly consistent. Aside from the occasional tweak due to injury or in this week’s case, trade. I’m no Hackworth fan but I still recall the days of Nowak’s lineups looking like the technical staff drankd a fifth of Vodka and threw darts to determine the starting lineup each week.

      • nowak at least always seemed to make the right halftime subs. now for a coach that can set a good line-up and make the right subs…

      • Nowak almost always had a half-time sub which was typically done to fix a mistake that he had made in setting his starting XI.

      • I guess the cosistency I was speaking of was where we play everyone and how we ask them to play. I just get the feel that hack is not preparing the team for the game in practice. Look how long it took dempsey at seattle to fit in. Thats because he was asked to get himself into their system. we have about half our line-ups where players are different or being used differently than last year.In this time of change hack needs to prepare them better. I guess that was the point I was trying to make. hack is not a tactician imo.

  6. Wheeler was completely schooled by magee on the first goal, was marking the man who scored on the second, before he got sucked to the ball and left him uncovered. and gave away what should have been a game winning goal. He is not up to snuff at this level as a CB. If Hackworth is serious about converting him, he should be sent to Harrisburg and starting every game there. He should not play CB at this level until he gets more games under his belt in that position.

    • Hack is a gambler. He has someone do something well. Maybe even obviously exceed their ability and he latches onto them. Like someone who wins on red three times and never stops betting on red.
      Thats why hoppenot sees the field so often. a long time ago before he got his rep for diving and other teams figured it out he was an extremely effective super sub. problem is he was never developed beyond that bag of tricks. I like Hop I just think he needs as wheller does to be coached and developed in a way beneficial to his game.

  7. What worries me most about this team right now is that we are at the spot where we’ve seen the good, we’ve seen the bad, and it’s now up to the coach to make the necessary changes.

    And at this point, does anyone have faith in Hackworths tactical abilities that he will make the right choices?

    • Even worse how long till young talent refuses/does everything in their power not to come for fear of squandering their talent. The “he coached the young USMNT players and did half decent” thing begins to sound hollow.

    • What do you think are the right choices?

      • The Black Hand says:

        Shaenon at LB. Gaddis at RB. Berry at CB. Carroll out. Letoux out. Leo in. Casey in. Wenger in. 4-4-2 (Diamond)

      • Great One says:

        100% agree. Especially with Gaddis. He looked so much worse on the left Saturday.

      • What about Maidana?

      • The Black Hand says:

        He’d be on left.

        Chaco Nog

        Taking out Carroll and LeToux would limit some of the rushed, poorly-played passing coming out of our middle. I think that Maidana will show better with a little more space and better service.

    • John Ling says:

      You take the good, you take the bad; you mix them both and there you have – the Facts of Life.
      This bad 80s flashback brought to you by a lack of sleep affecting my brain. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  8. Macmath saved his career, at least for one more week, with that save on the PK and the rebound. That 2nd goal the dude was hugging the near post and was actually BEHIND THE GOAL LINE when the ball went in. He just seems to have no awareness, anticipation or guts when a ball comes into the box.

  9. I’m right with you on all of the ratings. I might have had Edu a 4 – really gave away the ball in bad places way more than he should be doing. We should expect better from him.
    I fear that the midfield looked more average this week because neither Casey nor Leo were moving off the ball well and creating spaces. Hopefully that will improve as the team adjusts to “life after Jack.” We’ve seen Leo do this in the past, and Nogueira should be able to get forward more with Carroll and Edu behind him. Be interesting to see how Maidana does with another chance back at home. Hopefully he’s fit now.

  10. I’m going to feel 100% more confident with the A-1 backline in the XI. Williams made an immediate defensive impact, Gaddis is better than Fabinho, and the Berry/Okugo pair was pretty brilliant.

    As for the midfield, I think it was our worst showing yet. No one seemed on the same page. Edu really blew a great chance. Bone came in and subsequently disappeared (except for conceding the freekick that led to their goal). Even Nog. was struggling with his touch. Leo looked decent and I’m beginning to wonder if Seba’s going to be bumped. Hack blamed the pitch conditions, but c’mon boys.

    Can’t say much about Casey. He was gassed, clearly, but I loved seeing him back bruisin’ CBs.

    I’m looking forward to RSL at PPL. I don’t think we’re going to get blown out. I think it’s going to be tough but with our A-1 backline I’m feeling good. Is anyone else feeling weirdly confident in Wenger? I don’t know why but I feel like he’s going to jell quite nicely.

  11. Completely agree on the starting lineup for next week’s game. Gaddis and Williams have to be the starting backs on the left and right, respectively. Le Toux can relieve Fernandes after 60 or 70 minutes, and is a nice late game option whether chasing a goal or defending a lead.

  12. kingkowboys says:

    I agree with these ratings. A 7 for MacMath seems high but is in line with the game overall and saving a point (twice) at the end.

    I was happy to see the substitution at half time for Williams. So glad he is back, but not happy to see him get knocked around like that.

    Corben Bone turned out to be the wrong substitution. Don’t know anything about him but I hope he’s at the bottom of the depth chart now.

    Hop for Casey came too late but this was the correct substitution. I would have rather seen a sub for Seba over Fernandes. Fernandes has been in good form and can possess the ball. Seba disappeared and he is less and less effective late in games after running his ass off.

    2 CBs on the bench is a waste of a spot on the 18. There should have been another midfielder to choose from.

  13. You can be critical of the coach- but think about the teams out there-

    We have a way better centerback pairing in Berry and Okugo, and Frank gave us Berry, and kept Soumare (who we dumped on him. Soumare gave Edu that goal with his slow reaction. And I know Berry made a couple of gaffes, but he still is a find that this manager, Hack, found. Hack housed this guy in the poker game of player trades, getting better players for less money.

    Spotting real talent is at least half of professional managing.

    And we did all that hating last year, wanting to see something more sparky- but he must have evaluated that there were no pieces for that. Seems like he was right. Now that he has sparkplugs it’s more sparkly. I’m on the Hack wagon, but there is no band. Keep it up, John. You are worth it.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Way better pairing than what? Okugo/Parke?

      • No- but we got Edu/White for Park.

      • The Black Hand says:

        True. Hackworth has done well with this past offseason’s transfers. For that, he deserves his credit.
        After 5 matches, this club is underperforming greatly and appears to be getting worse with each passing week. For that, Hackworth also deserves his full credit.

    • Philly Cheese says:

      Send in KenZolo for the interview with Hack this week. He should be in good favor….compared to most others commenting. Would like to see Fernandes and Wenger on pitch together this week.

  14. Gaddis, Berry, Okogu, Williams

    I would keep Wheeler but move him up. He is a ball winner. Mid of Nogueira, Edu, Wheeler, Leo.

    Casey and Wenger as strike partners.

  15. No mention of BC’s turnover that lead to the PK? Wouldn’t care that much but it’s becoming a theme.
    “That’s three thus far, Shooter.”

    Check your e-mail Mike. Saturday is “Trois pour LeToux” day…so there’s that.

  16. What is your average? Two average teams played to a tie, and the average score is about 4.5. It seems never to be above 5.

    • 0: worst game ever.

      1-3: bad game. Lower is worse.

      4-6: Average. 4 is slightly below, 6 is above.

      7-8: Good game.

      9: Great game.

      10: One for the ages.

  17. I don’t know if it was a typo or intentional, but it looks like you used a different “-” before Bone’s rating. I took it to mean you gave him a negative 3, and I concur.

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