Player ratings

Stock Rising, Stock Falling: Union 0-0 (3-1) Rhinos

Photo: Paul Rudderow

The good news following Tuesday’s US Open Cup match between Philadelphia Union and Rochester Rhinos is that the home team moved on. Yet, after a match that took a penalty shootout to find a winner, there remained more questions than answers for a Union team that had to expend far more energy than manager Jim Curtin would have hoped only days before his team enters into a busy week of MLS league play.

Dogged by inconsistency in the final third, being shut out through 120 minutes against a strong NASL outfit was very much a case of same story, different day for the Union. Despite controlling the run of play, the decision-making and overall sharpness in the final third was lacking, as the Union wilted at the end of regulation. After a needlessly chippy extra time session that failed to produce a goal, or much quality at either end, it was John McCarthy’s chance to step in and save the day.

Let us take a look at the players who impressed on the night, and those that struggled to assert themselves:

Stock Rising

John McCarthy

The clear star of the night, Union fans were delighted to see the affable goalkeeper rise to the challenge in the penalty shootout, batting away an impressive string of three consecutive spot kicks. While there were some heart-stopping moments during regulation where the Union’s roaming shotstopper could have cost his side the match, there will also a number of chances where his aggression off his line saved the day when his backline was beaten.

Playing in his first match since a concussion left the Union scrambling to acquire Brian Sylvestre, McCarthy was assertive in his box, showing his typical pair of clean hands on service into the area. On a night where too many players seemed less than pleased to be on the PPL Park turf, McCarthy’s contribution kept his team in the tournament.

Vincent Nogueira

While it is unsurprising to see the diminutive Frenchman on the thumbs-up list, he arrives here for a different reason than usual. With no true defensive midfielder on the pitch against the Rhinos, Nogueira took the lead, alongside midfield partner Zach Pfeffer, in breaking up Rochester’s play and expanding his own game. Not only was he the catalyst behind the Union’s midfield possession, but he also got stuck into challenges and tracked back with additional tenacity to insure the Rhinos were unable to get much in the way of clean ball through the center of midfield. It is unlikely that Curtin would employ this gambit against any of the Union’s upcoming MLS opponents, but credit is due to Nogueira for raising, and changing, his game to suit the needs of his club.

Richie Marquez

Continues to pass every test that gets thrown his way, and hasn’t had any glaring errors to remind fans of his relative lack of experience. Against Rochester, he was again smooth and composed, with Rhinos striker Christian Volesky getting much more out of his battles with Union captain Maurice Edu, than against Marquez. It is hard to overstate the value that Marquez brings to a position that the Union have been scrambling to fill since 2012 and at 23 years old, Marquez projects to be part of the Union starting lineup for some time.

Stock Falling

Andrew Wenger

Just when it didn’t appear that things could get worse for Wenger, they do. That is not to say that his performance against Rochester was uniquely poor — quite the opposite, it was uniquely consistent. Decision-making in the final third defines an attacker, whether they become a ruthless, selfish goal scorer, a playmaking table-setter, or a balanced contributor somewhere in between. Nearly halfway into the MLS season, Wenger has proved to be none of the above. Against Rochester, he again used his athleticism to pray on an inferior fullback, yet with the goal beckoning, and teammates queueing up in the box, Wenger, as he has all season, took the wrong option. Whether it was a poorly weighted pass, drilled to the trailing foot of an onrushing Maidana during an odd man rush, or a casual shot looped over the bar, Wenger’s lack of confidence clearly is not being fixed through playing more and more minutes with Union. Some time on the sideline, or perhaps even a brief run with Harrisburg, might be what the doctor ordered to shake the attacker out of his funk.

Ray Gaddis

After missing recent weeks through injury, Gaddis has watched from the sidelines as both Fabinho and Sheanon Williams have rounded into their best form of the season, and in the Brazilian’s case, of his Union career. The attacking element that both fullbacks have added the Union’s game plan has been critical in augmenting build-up play on a team that too often sees both wingers pinch very narrow. With Fabinho and Williams overlapping and providing useful, driven service into the box, the Union have looked a much more threatening force during their most recent run of good form.

Given the opportunity to step back into the starting lineup against Rochester, Gaddis was unable to keep this trend alive. Sure, there is rust to shake off, but Gaddis struggled to impose himself on the Union’s right flank and also got caught in no-man’s land too easily defensively. Jonny Mendoza’s run in behind was just the most glaring example of Gaddis’ shaky evening and he will have to raise his level in the coming weeks to keep up with the bar set by the Union’s other fullbacks.

Union fitness

After joking about working on his team’s fitness before a long week of matches, Jim Curtin went on to bemoan his team’s lack of match fitness in his post-game press conference. Whether it was Gaddis, returning from injury, Zach Pfeffer, learning to play more and more minutes, or Wenger, Curtin expressed displeasure that his team was unable to maintain their energy and intensity for more than brief spurts.

With LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, and Montreal Impact all in the Union’s very immediate future, those are alarming comments to hear from the Union boss, especially halfway into the season. But, it was easy to see his point, with not only the three mentioned above, but also Chaco Maidana and CJ Sapong visually tiring during regulation on a hot, humid night in Chester. After discussing two weeks ago that it is mostly the travel, not the extra games, that wears teams out in three-match weeks, it remains to be seen what Curtin plans to do about the upcoming week, especially with Sebastien Le Toux being forced from the field with a leg injury after less than an hour of play.


  1. Fat Uncle Phil from Urkel says:

    Cue the Gaddis hate from PSP as usual. Dude runs his ass off to save the game due to an abysmal attempt at goalkeeping in the closing minutes and its not even mentioned. You think Sheanon or Fabinho have the talent or athletic ability to make that play? Ha ha ha…no. Either of those two get in that position and the Union lose 1-0 after 90′. Period.

    • I am inclined to agree and disagree. Ray is a solid back who is generally overrated here IMO but then quick to be ‘forewarned’ about impending benching related to great play of Sheanon and now the ‘sun arc no more’ Fabinho which is also laughable.
      The mob is fickle.

      • Fat Uncle Phil from Urkel says:

        Sheanon plays lazy, but has skill. Fabinho is a terrible defender that should be a wing. Gaddis doesn’t offer any offense, but plays hard and fast.

        Sheanon has been playing slightly less lazy and Fabinho has had a string off luck where his all or nothing defensive style hasn’t bitten him in the behind. Which I guess is what we consider “in form.”

        If you could combine the three of them into one player, it would be a world class player. Too bad Frankenstein technology isn’t available yet.

      • Fat Uncle Phil from Urkel says:

        Yeah, that’s great. Neither of them has the speed to get from point A to point B in the situation that occurred Tuesday. Ray was motoring full out and barely got there. If you are trying to claim that either could have made that play, then you are claiming that both of them are as fast as Gaddis.

      • Not denying that Gaddis isn’t faster than both Williams and Fabinho, but there’s a lot more to being a good defender than just being fast (i.e. Marvell Wynne)

    • I guess from where you sit no one can critique Ray Gaddis. Shannon Williams has done just that on several occasions in the past. See the goaltending goofs of the Union. I like Ray Gaddis but the truth is that he only has one level to his game right now. The Union need him to consistently support the attack. Ray needs to bring his game to another level skill wise and reading plays. He’s a nice salt of the earth guy but now the book is out on him. Even playing on the right side he gets his footing wrong and teams are picking up on it. He can get better and I expect he will.

      • Fat Uncle Phil from Urkel says:

        Its not that, its the overt, laughable Gaddis hate you see EVERY GAME on here. He played a slightly below average game. Just like the entire damn team. McCarthy was God awful for 120 minutes, but his “stock is rising” because he had a moment of great play. Gaddis pretty much had the exact same game as McCarthy from a ratings standpoint. Below average play and a single moment of brilliance that saved the day. But yet one did great, the other was horrible. Give me a break. He was just as terrible as everyone else not named Nogueira.

        If they do ratings for this game and ANYBODY is over a 5, I give up. It should be a torrent of 3s and 4s with Wenger given a 1 because he is terrible and useless.

      • John Ling says:

        Hmmm… added a comment, but don’t see it. But attempting to add it again via copy/paste the site tells me it’s a duplicate. Odd…

      • From what I’ve seen on here, Gaddis gets very little mention. So I guess I don’t get where you see as usual Gaddis haters. None of the Union fullbacks are outstanding. Williams has the most upside skill wise and Fabinho can bring his game to another level which helps him on both sides of the ball. Gaddis, since the begining of the season either at LB or RB has shown to be easily turned on the wrong side of the ball and his judging headers continues to be a weak part of his game. Teams are not affraid to go at him. He has a lot of athleticism and speed that used to make up for being wrong footed but teams are exploiting him. He needs to up his game and get his footing straightened out. I was at a few games where he’s started this year at RB and Curtin has been all over him about it. I heard him yell the play is coming to you Ray. No sooner were the words out than Gaddis would turn his body and back off giving a complete lane outside or inside to an attacking player. DC United and NYCFC beat him with the same move for goals 2 weeks in a row and Curtin was livid. Gaddis needs to support the offence as well. That is another thing pissing off the coach. If he wants to start again he has to step it up and work on his reading plays. The job at RB has always been Williams’ if he wants to put in the work. When he does he brings more. When Fabinho plays smart he has more skill than Gaddis. That’s just the truth. Gaddis’ hustle has endeared him in a lot of ways but this team needs him to do more.

      • +1

      • Dr. Union says:

        Not understanding where you see Gaddis haters on here all the time from my opinion he is one of the more favored players up until his injury of course and the change in form of Williams and Fabinho. While they all have their problems Gaddis to me is the most consistent of the bunch. However, I did not get to see the USOC game, but as I’ve mentioned before being okay on a bad team does not make you good. Everyone could use to improve and that should be the goal of any player out there.

    • I have always felt, and continue to feel, that Gaddis and Williams are both very strong fullbacks. If Fabinho maintains his recently-found form, then the Union have — dare I say it?? — 3 starting caliber fullbacks, which is a very nice position to be in. (Fabi will have to continue to perform at this level before we’ll all believe it, though.)

      • Agreed. I’m a Williams fan. When in form, he’s exactly what this team needs at RB. Just a couple years ago there was chatter about him coming into the USMNT radar soon. Obviously, he’s not there, but him having success again lately is a great thing. Not a knock on Gaddis. Gaddis is a strong 1-v-1 defender, but won’t add as much offensively as Williams.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Dude, I’m a Ray Gaddis fan. I started PSP. I think he’s a good right back.

      There is no “Gaddis hate from PSP as usual.” Different PSP contributors have different perspectives.

      Eli called it like he saw it. If you disagree with that, then fine, you’re entitled to. PSP contributors routinely disagree with each other also. However, to label PSP as a whole as some unified anti-Gaddis front is simply ridiculous.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Other than interest in MLS’s Philly franchise, upon what else does unity exist on these pages?
        OOOps. Office, not franchise, forgot my Garber-speak. Sorry.

  2. The Black Hand says:

    Very tough on Ray, Eli. His stock fell?? Really? He needs to step up his offensive support, if he is to reclaim his position, but I’m not sure that he was poor.

    McCarthy has zero stock. I’m fine with him seeing some Cup play…maybe. He’s not a pro goalkeeper. His penalty stops were pleasant…but not one of those penalties were quality takes (including the Union’s).

    That match sucked!!!

    • He was poor on the night – I remember a handful of unusually poor passes directly to Rhinos, coming off of his foot. But I’d write it off due to rust really. He didn’t put in a shift that would bump Williams or Fabinho from the first 11, but I’m not sure we should have expected him to do so yet.

      • With the amount of poor players on the pitch, Gaddis’ errors weren’t as glaring to my eye. I think a lot of it had to do with rust.
        Now, we all know how I feel about Ray. I think that he has risen to the challenges presented to him and performed (usually) dependably. That said, if he is to impact this club; he will need to work on his offensive play on the wing (because we have NO wings). The overlapping play of Williams and Fabinho has given this club a bite (tiny bite, but still a bite), that we have been greatly in need of. Gaddis will need to add to his game, if he is to reclaim his spot in the XI. I have faith that he will. He’s more than JUST fast.

  3. Richie is very smooth you are correct. He seems to do all the little things well. Vincent and Richie were the only two players I enjoyed watching on Tuesday. Kenardo Forbes, too.

  4. Old Soccer Coach says:

    One other observation to offer, C.J. Sapong comes back to do the “dirty running” that Ccurtin mentions when he sees a specific need or opportunity. Aristegueta does so as a matter of course, constantly. As a result, Sapaong and Maidana feel like two strikers in a 4-4-2 with the ACM spot vacant defensively. Because Aristegueta drops back into that hole much more instinctively, he and Maidana feel more like a 4-2-3-1. Sapong coming off the bench has been a devastating change of pace. For the moment I would keep that pattern, especially against less quick more ponderous center backs.

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