Player ratings / Union

Analysis and player ratings: Union 1-3 Red Bulls

Photo: Daniel Studio

Give Jim Curtin credit: He knows what his team has to do to succeed. He just can’t quite figure out how to make it happen.

Curtin’s early season mantra was that the Union needed every player to have a good game to compete against the best in MLS. In other words, the roster did not have the depth or flexibility to overcome injuries or poor form. On the surface, this seems a fairly obvious statement that offers little practical guidance. But this statement can actually give insight into Curtin’s team selection and strategy.

When the going gets tough, Curtin reaches into his bench and pulls out… Ethan White. Or Fabinho. Or Brian Carroll. Or Conor Casey. Nobody on that list is a bad soccer player by any stretch of the imagination. But to a man they have proven to be better supporting players than starters. And yet Philadelphia Union have leaned heavily on each of them to be consistent game in and game out. And that is something that a team requiring every player to be in good form each match simply cannot do (and this is not my opinion, this is the opinion of the league table over the past two seasons).

Brian Carroll made it very difficult for BWP to get involved in the final third, forcing the striker to come very deep to get the ball.

Brian Carroll made it very difficult for BWP to get involved in the final third, forcing the striker to come very deep to get the ball.

Common thread?

What unites all of these players is that Jim Curtin seems to trust them. Even if they have proven inconsistent, they are inconsistent in a reliable way that a coach can strategize around. In a way, Curtin is pitting his roster against his own tactical prowess, and he wants to know as much about the lineup he’s putting out there as he can.

The problem that was made so apparent Saturday night is that the team Curtin trusts does not coagulate into anything that fits what could be called modern, or, at times, recognizable, soccer tactics.

How else to explain why, on home turf against a lethargic opponent, the Union appeared to have no plan going forward? Or why Cristian Maidana was so easily forced out of the middle even though Philly’s only other offensive player in the center of the pitch was Zach Pfeffer, still struggling to adjust to a deep-lying role?

The theme of Union matches, again and again, is that good players occasionally make good things happen by playing to their strengths. This is the same thing you can say about a pickup basketball game: Give the ball to that one big/quick/talented guy and see if he can break people down. This, notably, is not at all how professional basketball works. It takes hours of drawing up plays and practicing them to get that good player in an ideal position to break someone down. The highlight may be the same, but the foundations it is built on are much different.

Philly has good players. And those players make good plays when they get into good positions. But the Union have not shown the ability to create those good positions. Chaco Maidana appears to have total freedom to wander across the pitch looking for holes. This can devastate a defense when it works, but it can also remove Maidana from the game and leave the midfield with only Pfeffer as a hub.

The Union rarely had players in the most dangerous offensive zone, making it difficult to move the NY defense and create lanes to attack.

The Union rarely had players in the most dangerous offensive zone, making it difficult to move the NY defense and create lanes to attack.

Similarly, CJ Sapong has added Conor Casey-level body position dominance to his game, yet the Union still do not look to find his feet. When they do, they instantly become more dangerous (see Pfeffer’s poorly executed but well-constructed shot in the 54th minute).

Or, for a more global perspective, look at how Philly builds out of the back. Playing through fullbacks who either struggle at or eschew short passes up to wingers who simply do not hold the ball well enough to be good options under pressure. Again, these are not meant to be criticisms leveled at individual players. Instead, it is an attempt to explore how Philadelphia’s inconsistency comes not from below-par players, but from a roster that, no matter which way you twist it, doesn’t come together into anything resembling a forceful whole.

And how Jim Curtin’s solution to that has been to lean so heavily on players he trusts, even if they do not produce the results he needs.

Barnetta in a diamond

There. How was that for a good bit of theorizing to replace any analysis of a dreary, lethargic first half in which both teams successfully neutralized their opponents’ offensive strategies. Brian Carroll gets a hearty clap for a strong performance mixing good pressing with brilliant positioning to keep Bradley Wright-Phillips out of dangerous areas.

So let’s move on to the second half, where both teams deployed new signings, and those players immediately came together to make far different first impressions.

Tranquillo Barnetta was introduced as the Union switched from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2ish formation with Maidana on the right wing. Barnetta played in front of Brian Carroll and involved himself by collecting knockdowns from the strikers or checking in short to help Le Toux. Notably, he looked comfortable on the ball in tight areas and spread play to the wings fluidly and quickly. In other words, he looked like a lean, gangly Vincent Nogueira.

And, like Nogueira, he looked confused by how the team shaped up around him. Instead of using that passing range as an outlet, the Union seemed to turn it into a first choice option. When Barnetta was on the ball, players were running away from him, spreading out and leaving him with few short options. This strategy runs counter to Jim Curtin’s professed desire to use Barnetta to retain possession and take pressure off the defense.

Aggression and tactics

The penalty that introduced Barnetta to Philadelphia was the right call, but its genesis was more frustrating than the foul itself. Playing in a 4-4-2, Ray Gaddis remained extremely aggressive defensively, and Shaun Wright-Phillips simply and elegantly turned the Union defender’s greatest asset into a weakness. Recognizing that Gaddis was going to get tight to him the moment he had the ball, SWP showed that he was untroubled by tight defense, even when it came from a player as quick as himself.

Before creating the opener by sucking Gaddis in, letting the ball run and taking off for the box for an eventual return pass, SWP had already earned a foul at the top of the box with a quick juke that left Gaddis with his leg out. Then there was the double-move that turned Philly’s right back into a spinning ball of arms and legs just before Wright-Phillips found his brother for the go-ahead goal.

For a player known more for pace and athleticism than intelligence, it was a very smart performance from Shaun Wright-Phillips, and a hubristic response from Gaddis. Every time he got too close and was beaten, he took it as a challenge to get closer next time. Anthony Wallace actually made the same mistake at the other end, getting tight to Eric Ayuk once too many times and earning a caution for his efforts. Compared to Gaddis, he got off light.

Gaddis’ rough night should not be viewed in isolation. It is symbolic of the Union’s response to negative events as a team. One can admire how the squad has stuck together in the locker room during a rough year and a half, but at the same time it is quite obvious that when the Union have a mountain to climb, they climb by themselves and not as a unit. The best players take it upon themselves to do more, to go outside the system. And the rest of the team takes it as a signal to pick up their own individual games rather than re-commit to the team shape or tactics. Thus do we see Ethan White reverting to positional confusion after many minutes of solid work as part of a back line. Or Sebastien Le Toux wandering forward from the wing, leaving a glaring hole that makes it very difficult to get the ball upfield.

Philly pressing but keeping a deep line after NYRB cycled the ball back out.

Philly pressing but keeping a deep line after NYRB cycled the ball back out.

Smart changes

I criticized Jesse Marsch’s response to Philly’s go-ahead goal in the US Open Cup. The New Jersey manager threw on enough wings to start his own BW3 franchise and was lucky to take the match to extra time.

On Saturday, Marsch very smartly adjusted to attack the Union’s weakest defensive point: The channel between Gaddis and White. Though each player has come in for criticism over the past year, the biggest issue with Ray Gaddis and Ethan White is not that either of them is a bad player: It is that they do not mesh together well at all. Gaddis is aggressive and will leave his position to pressure the ball upfield regardless of how many times the opposition then slides an attacker into the hole he abandoned. White is conservative and he drags the back line deep protecting what must look to him like the vastness of outer space to his right when Gaddis leaves.

To be sure, this is not a constant issue. There are moments when the Union backline as a whole shifts over well, with a midfielder snapping at the heels of anyone in the space in front of them. But with attack-minded wingers and an attacking central midfielder who spends his working hours on the wings, three-man midfields often leave Philly with too many men to cover, and the leftover player finds success in the space between Gaddis and White.

On Saturday, it was Kljestan popping up in that gap. But in the past it has been a striker, an attacking midfielder, or even a narrow winger like Justin Meram for Columbus. It’s a soft spot in Philly’s defense and at this point most managers (except, bizarrely, Caleb Porter) know it. And it’s an example of the Union being less than the sum of their parts.

Fabinho missed Sapong through an open passing lane in the exact spot Sapong belongs if he's going to be dangerous.

Fabinho missed Sapong through an open passing lane in the exact spot Sapong belongs if he’s going to be dangerous.

Big positives from big players

I’ll admit: I didn’t think a 4-4-2 would work for Philly. But when Aristeguieta joined Sapong up front, the result was ugly but effective soccer that produced a bounty of chances.


Primarily, it is a function of how much Cristian Maidana has come to live in wide areas. Last season, Andrew Wenger operated as something of a wing-target man at times. And this is increasingly what Maidana has done in 2015. Calling the Union’s formation a 4-5-1 is a bit disingenuous because it implies three bodies in the middle of the pitch when there are, in reality, only ever two. This is why a competing 4-5-1 with three true central players can dominate the ball so effectively against the Union.

Thus, a 4-4-2 simply put Maidana’s role in more concrete terms. He became an advanced right wing and took to the role with relish, drifting inside then back out to create space and looking to put short crosses into the box for Aristeguieta.

Additionally, the shape allowed Barnetta to use Sapong as a wall going forward, bouncing passes off the big striker which drew the defense central and helped Le Toux and Maidana find oodles of space. Despite only creating one goal, this was a very effective offensive strategy. And it comes with its own set of defensive problems.

A stretched diamond is just a giant hole

The diamond midfield behind the strikers — it was actually more of a Y-shape with the wingers pushed so high — is extremely powerful if it remains tight. This may seem like it puts more responsibility on Brian Carroll’s shoulders, but in fact it asks the back line to be much quicker moving the offsides line forward. When New York pushed the ball, the Union dropped to the edge of their box. When the Red Bulls then recycled play, Philly stayed deep, conceding space and allowing the gigantic separation between the defense and the rest of the team to become a breeding ground for New York’s offensive sets.

The diamond worked going forward, but it was not paired with the defensive strategy necessary for the formation to drive overall success.

Player ratings

John McCarthy – 6

Made a good save when BWP pulled away from White and slammed a near post shot. Otherwise, no real chance on the goals. Maybe if he was longer he stops the Kljestan penalty, but as a short guy I don’t take off points for that.

Ray Gaddis tried to ride the back of Shaun Wright-Phillips. The winger let the ball run to the man in the space Gaddis should have had and took off upfield to earn a penalty.

Ray Gaddis tried to ride the back of Shaun Wright-Phillips. The winger let the ball run to the man in the space Gaddis should have had and took off upfield to earn a penalty.

Ray Gaddis – 2

Gaddis tried to tangle with SWP and lost. Pride beat out positional sense and the fullback did not learn from early mistakes. A better effort/shape balance is needed in the future.

Ethan White – 4

White was far from perfect but also far from awful. Blaming the second goal on him seems extremely harsh, and leaning back to prevent a pass laid in behind him is a reasonable stance. His passing was long and erratic, but the Union had little else on aside from the long ball, so in this case he can be forgiven for looking deep so often.

Maurice Edu – 4

Like his partner, Edu did little to directly cost his team points, but as the goals against pile up he will be spotlighted as the player expected to create more cohesion in back.

Fabinho – 4

Fabi has put in some delicious crosses and assists over the past few months. He did not have the magic on Saturday. With teams targeting the right side of the Union defense, Fabinho has become a reliable defender on the left. I can honestly say I never thought I’d write that sentence, and that’s a testament to Fabinho’s work on the defensive side of the ball.

Brian Carroll – 7

A huge task for Carroll to patrol in front of the back line with Pfeffer and, later, Barnetta alongside. There is a reason New York started targeting the channels in the second half, and it is because Carroll prevented BWP from becoming involved in the final third.

Sebastien Le Toux – 6

A fine goal that came from following up the play, and numerous chances to either shoot or put the ball in good positions. Le Toux did extremely well to penetrate and get below the opponent’s box, but he produced relatively little once there. Still, a step in the right direction for a player that has had an up-and-down season.

Eric Ayuk – 6

What can you say? When he has the ball in space he’s hard to stop, but when he doesn’t have the ball who knows where he’ll be. Ayuk took Anthony Wallace to school a few times, and the connection between him and Pfeffer is much stronger than between Pfeffer and Le Toux. Ayuk is a young weapon and the only young weapon getting a chance to play consistently in his preferred position. Maybe it isn’t so surprising he’s progressing while other young guys stagnate.

With Carroll already pressing, Pfeffer should have held the center. Instead he pressed and left the hole you see above.

With Carroll already pressing, Pfeffer should have held the center. Instead he pressed and left the hole you see above.

Zach Pfeffer – 3

This was a rough one for Pfeffer. For every positive there was an equal and more salient negative. Good outlet passes to Ayuk, bad shots without pressure. Good tackling when he got close to the opposition, bad positioning when he had to play zone. Pfeffer is still more comfortable as the sharp end of the spear than as the reliable center holding the weapon together. The desire and workrate are there, the positional understanding still seems a ways off.

Cristian Maidana – 5

Not much defense from the Argentinian, but he was reliably dangerous when he got in good spots. Notably, the playmaker looked comfortable in a wing position, but did nothing defensively in that role. A true mixed bag from set pieces, which is disappointing as the Union had so many of them.

Against any single defender, CJ Sapong should be a target for a ball to his feet. If he doesn't turn the player, he will draw defenders and can find space.

Against any single defender, CJ Sapong should be a target for a ball to his feet. If he doesn’t turn the player, he will draw defenders and can find space.

CJ Sapong – 6

Not the star, but still the workhorse. Sapong set up at the top of the box but got little service. Hopefully, this does not deter him from following a similar strategy in coming games. Became more of an off-the-shoulder striker once Aristeguieta came in to challenge aerial balls, and worked well with Barnetta.


Tranquillo Barnetta – 4

Look as cultured as you want, when your intro music is a penalty whistle the rating is going to be low.

Fernando Aristeguieta – 5

Alongside Sapong, Nando forms what must be one of the most blue collar, hard working strike duos in MLS. Both players endlessly chase, though it must be asked whether they would be more effective falling back into shape quicker. Regardless, this match was a very positive sign that the two best finishers on the Union roster can work together.

Conor Casey – 6

A cameo that featured a fine set piece header. Strange that Curtin emptied the midfield to add another big striker when the Union were struggling to hold the ball in the New York end.

Geiger Counter – 5

Armando Villareal could have sent off Damien Perrinelle for some late stuff on Ray Gaddis when the defender was already on a caution. Otherwise, it was a fairly easy match for the official and the penalty he called was an easy decision.


  1. Somehow you make me feel better for putting to swordsman’s words what is stabbing us all in the heart…This is beyond eloquent and truly remarkable thinking….
    …the alpha and the omega of this team.
    I just wish there was something we could do about it…. besides feel as removed as one feels reading a William Faulkner novel.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Too high for Edu and White. It seemed like every pass between defenders was an adventure. There were a couple of potentially costly turnovers and several others that were a lot less safe than they should have been.
    I said it in my game comments but need to repeat. 17 shots but only 3 on target. There NEEDS to be work on that. The SOB’s don’t need so many souvenir balls.
    While I agree that the penalty call was correct, there were several other iffy calls that went NJ’s way. The first yellow could easily have been red as there was no one between Sapong and the goal. There were two plays that easily could have been penalties at the other end (and both looked more deliberate than Barnetta’s). It would be nice if some of those 50/50 calls went the other way.

  3. 1. Fernando Aristeguieta was fun. I liked his fight out there. We need to get him and Sapong out there. Will they win games? Probably a few more than we are winning now but at least they will be worth rooting for.

    2. It still seems like the Union are collecting good players but I’m not sure where they go and how they will fit together. Each new player is kinda a hybrid of another player we got Edu in the midfield was half Nogs and half Okugo. Barnetta is half Wenger half Maidana. I’m not sure how we are going to get our best players on the field.

    3. Is Vitoria that bad? it seems like a lot of problems can work themselves out if we put Edu in the midfield while Nogs is injured.

    4. I swore the ghost of Nowak was smiling when Curtin said “Screw it we are putting ALL of our attackers on at the end.

    5. I swear the Sons of Ben are getting stupider every year.

    6. For all the problems that wwas one of the more fun games I have been to in a while.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      You should have gone to the open cup game on 7/21. It was a LOT more fun!

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      Elaborate on the SOB comment. I’m not a SOB, just curious….

      • I am a SoB and would also like an elaboration on the “stupider” comment.

      • Ok I have been going to Union games since year one always in the supporters section. There has always been stupid, but it has been Philly sports fan stupid. I am convinced that there are SOB’s who are convinced that the refs actually have it out for them and if it weren’t for them the Union would be Undefeated every year.
        Philly Sports Stupid whatever.
        But now it seems like that have been an influx of Bros coming out to Union games who when they aren’t peppering their comments with the occasional “Faggot” so they can be all cool and transgressive they would make life difficult for their fellow SOBs out of their own sense of entitlement than make life difficult for the opposing teams and fans.

        and it shows Red Bulls support blew us out of the water despite being the best attended game in a while.

      • The Red Bulls supporters kept chanting “beat the traffic” after the final whistle had blown. But sure, we’re the stupid ones.

      • Brah..why you do me like that, Sieve? I thought we were bros.

    • Please explain #5, as I am unable to come to my own conclusions due to our collective stupidity.

      • can’t help you with your own mind.

      • Didn’t see your reply until after my post landed.

        Curious what section you sit in. We remove people in my section for racial/sexual derogatory comments

      • That particular thing was a couple of games ago. It just seems like ever since they opened up the river end (Which I guess was understandable from the Union point of view.) It seems like there have got the be an asshole part of it down but the support the team has been a bit lacking.

      • Not sure what section you are in. I’m in 138, and no one near me acts like this.
        The only stupidity is the two Hoppenot fans in front of me who can’t figure out why he isn’t in the starting 11.

    • “5. I swear the Sons of Ben are getting stupider every year.”

      Yeah this is a very general statement when you’re talking about 2,000+ people.

  4. MikeRSoccer says:

    Spot on apart from Gaddis. A 2 is a bit generous imo. His one-on-one defense was atrocious, but even off the player his positioning was insane.

    On Saturday he either: (1) moved centrally and became a 5’1″ CB playing 2 feet from White; (2) chased players from the right side to the left side; or (3) on the few occasions where he was actually a RB, he got trashed by NYRB attackers.

    His last two outings have been nothing short of nightmares. Footwork, positioning, chemistry, and confidence are non existent. It was OK to leave Wenger on when he was suffering, but with Gaddis, his mistakes turn into opponent goals. If things don’t change quickly, Lee or Lahoud need to be strongly considered as replacements.

    • Strongly disagree there was no reason to leave Wenger on when he was struggling and it lead to goals as well. Just look last couple of weeks goals down the right side instead of the left guess why there is no Wenger on the left to let people through so easily. On top of that while Gaddis has had a few bad games I put this down to the fact that he is pair next to White which is IMO the weak spot on this backline. Gaddis was doing fine with Edu on the right and Marquez on the left. Now he can’t seem to find his positioning.

  5. Nando Sapong

    Barnetta Nogueira Maidana Ayuk

    Fabinho Marquez Edu Gaddis


    This is the lineup I’d like to see once Nogueira is back for the remainder of the season. Thoughts?

    • I’ve given up any hope on seeing Blake. If Curtin isn’t starting him by now I can’t see him starting the rest of the season. It wouldn’t shock me to see Blake gone after the season via trade or loan. He hasn’t gotten a shot here yet with a bad team for the 2nd year in a row and don’t know why. Personally I’d like to see a 3-5-2 but Curtin loves the 4-2-3-1 or whatever it ends up becoming as the match evolves. We have no superstar and a bunch of average at best players who seem to have no idea how to play together as a team for any extended period of time. We are underacheivers from the top of the organization all the way to the bottom

      • Andy Muenz says:

        We came close to a 3-5-2 at the end Saturday, but it was a 3-4-3 instead. Led to the goal at the end which will probably help NYRB with a goal differential tiebreaker at the end of the season (and won’t mean jack for the U).

      • That was exactly my reaction when I saw that Casey was being sent up front, resulting in the informal 3-4-3. Speed on the wings for NYRB, and we will give up at least another. Damned if it didn’t happen. One time I hated to be right.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      I might be in the minority, but I do not like the idea of a Sapong/Nando pairing up top. I feel there is just to much duplicity there. Also, that midfield would be fun to watch, but there is a whole lot of D being played there. Id prefer a 4-4-1-

      Barnetta Nogs Carroll Ayuk
      Fabinho Marquez Edu Gaddis

      If we had to true strikers, I’d pefer to have LeToux up there with Sapong. Not having a great season, but has always played better as an out and out striker rather then a winger.

      • I agree about LeToux possibly up top, but I wouldn’t want him and Ayuk starting together. Seba and Ayuk are the highest energy players we have other than Sapong, and one of them would be valuable as our first sub.

    • Personally I think Blake is close to done. He’s had multiple surgeries and has been injured more often than healthy this season, though I think once he’s healthy we should give him a few games to see what he’s made of. Also, I don’t think we should be wasting our time developing Nando. He’s not worth his $350,000 salary plus whatever transfer fee they’ll want for him. Additionally, I think we should try Wenger at fullback, since this season is essentially already lost (other than the Open Cup I mean), and move Fabinho to LM.
      All that said, I think a 4-4-1-1 would be best:
      I guess Gaddis and Wenger could be switched if that makes it better. If we did end up going with two up top, I’d really like to see how Sapong and Pfeffer would work together

      • But you feel Wenger is worth his 250k salary? Based on what?

        Season is over, use it to evaluate young players and loan players. Nando, Vitoria, Blake, Pfeffer, Marquez need to play every match they are healthy. Tinker with moving Fabinho to LM to figure out if he can play there, then you know if you need to acquire an LM or LB this offseason. Have a plan for 2016 so moves can be made early, not halfway thru preseason which leads to the first month of the season being extended preseason and dropped points.

      • “Have a plan for 2016 so moves can be made early, not halfway thru preseason which leads to the first month of the season being extended preseason and dropped points.”

        So true…

        But so not the Union…

      • No Wenger is not worth his $250,000 salary, in fact I was one of the first to bring that up on this site’s comment board. But then someone made the point to me that everyone knows that he’s not worth his salary, so who’s going to take him in a trade? As far as I know his contract expires at the end of this season, so it’s best to just ride out his contract and renegotiate when it’s expired to get his salary down. Agree with everything else though (except Nando), especially having plans for 2016, but as far as I know Jeff was talking specifically about what we do with the players we currently have.

      • I’m undecided on Nando. Give him a healthy run of games up front with Sapong. If they don’t mesh , end the loan. But the club needs to see what they have. Casey won’t be an option on 2016, so right now it’s Sapong and….nothing.

      • I’ll take Wenger at 24 and his salary over LePoo at 31 and has higher salary everyday of the week.

  6. And what is the rating of the coach? How about a 1? Especially after last weeks problems in DC and playing the same team. This is going to be the worst season ever. Anyone see the Chicago game yesterday and how much they have improved while we have gone backwards? They slaughtered Dallas (the hottest team in the League until yesterday).

  7. I don’t know why Nando seems to be so revered by this fan base. All of his goals this season are the result of just hard work and luck. Those qualities may seem admirable, but we already have those qualities in Sapong, who is also faster, stronger, less expensive (less than half the salary of Nando), has a better first touch and doesn’t fall down whenever he’s touched. So if our Front Office has any kind of money-ball sense they’ll let Nando go when the loan expires. So I think both of our loanees this year turned out to be duds.

    • or at least redundant when a redundancy scheme is not affordable, cap wise.

    • At a different salary Nando is definitely worth it as he is 22 yrs old and can develop. Of course he can’t be developed by this team cause they don’t know how to do that, but by another organization it would be possible. His value in MLS is his constant ability to keep pushing. Yes he goes down to easily and yes his first touch is poor, but those are things he could work on. He likes to get on the ball and always has a nose for goal. He could be very similar to a younger version of Casey, Kenny Cooper, and Brian McBride if taught properly. The problem is this won’t happen and he is currently overrated with his base salary. But I find it hard to believeat say $150,000 you wouldn’t want him on the team.

      • Of course he’d be great to have on the team for $150,000, but there’s no way in hell he’d take a $200,000 pay cut when he has no contractual obligations to MLS and a spot in Ligue 1 waiting for him. The reality of the situation is he’s way overpaid, and that’s not including the dough it’d take to purchase his rights.

      • Sorry Adam, you lost me with this one when you stated that Ethan White is “not a bad player.” Ethan White is not an MLS-quality player. He is horrendous on the ball, loses marks consistently, and has no sense of where he is on the field. In fact, Ethan White was so bad early this season, that Jim had to move Mo Edu back to center back (where he generally doesn’t play). When Steven Vitoria went down, Curtin went to Marquez instead of going back to White. Only when both Vitoria and Marquez went down, did Jim re-insert Ethan into the lineup.

        And Nando gets a 5? I like Nando in the beginning, but have soured on him. On Saturday, he was straight awful. His touch was beyond brutal. The only blue collar that he showed was a complete lack of finesse and positioning.
        Lastly…”Philly has good players.” Bullsh*t. The Union has 5, maybe 6 quality MLS starters on this squad. Edu, Nogs, Chaco, CJ, Gaddis, and arguably Marquez. Now, you can add Barnetta. There’s zero depth, zero goalkeeping, and very little finishing ability. Across the board, this team was ranked anywhere from 18-20 in the league re: talent, pre-season. And guess what? That’s what they are. A team with less than average talent and no depth. No coach could win with this team.

        Sorry Adam, you’ve kind of embarrassed yourself here with this re-cap. Did you lose a bet and let the SOB write this one for you?

  8. Sieve, I thought we were brahs???

  9. “Difficult. Hard One. Snake Bit. Another disappointing. Unfortunate. Not a good one. Extend an apology. Weren’t good enough.” — — Presser archives.
    “It wears me out It wears me out It wears me out” — — Fake plastic Trees.

  10. I do not understand how Ayuk continues to get so much love from these threads. After watching the game I found him horrendous, then looked at his numbers and those backed up my opinion. He completed 4 passes, FOUR, out of 7, SEVEN. In the entire game. 0 Successful crosses, 4 unsuccessful (Opta Chart) I just do not get how he receives so much praise from people on here. Maybe I know nothing about soccer which is definitely possible but it seems that because we see a young kid working hard doing backflips we praise him. It amazes me.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Hustles. Turns defenders, consistently, usually screening them with his body so he ends up in possession and ahead of them. Fast. Makes runs into the box. Scores upon occasion.

      Adam Cann’s criticisms of his defensive positioning are sound. At the same time, 1 v 1 he’s sometimes a surprising ball winner.

    • Because he is our only wing who makes a run to the box. Does he play like an 18 year old kid most of the time? Yeah. And on this team, so what? Club isn’t going anywhere let’s see if he can work on becoming a more complete player because if he costs you a game, again, so what?

      Ayuk is one of the few 1v1 threats on this team. If next spring summer he’s still making the same mistakes, then maybe he needs to sit. Right now, no big deal.

    • I agree that he had a bad game the other night – too many turnovers. But in general, there’s a lot of promise with him. Aggressive, makes good runs, can finish a bit, and pretty good technical skills.

  11. neatherprovidencepops says:

    Look as cultured as you want, when your intro music is a penalty whistle the rating is going to be low

    Great line Sir. I owe you a Coke.

  12. Barnetta’s debut was as memorable as Corbin Bone’s. What else needs to be said.

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