Player of the Week

Player of the week: Ilsinho

Photo: Daniel Studio

In this season of unexpected success for the Philadelphia Union, there have been many joys to watch.

For me, though, none have been quite as wonderful as the joy of watching the man with a million moves thoroughly scramble the minds and feet of professional soccer players with his unstoppable dribble moves.

From more or less the first moment he set foot on the field in preseason, it became clear that Ilsinho was a kind of player the Union had never had before. Here was someone willing to take one, two, three defenders head-on, ready to beat them with his skill or with his passing. Few players in MLS can match his control of the ball or his easy sense of how the next pass should be weighted.

The critique, though, is that for all his ill footwork, Ilsinho had little to show on the scoreline. That began to change at the start of June, with his first assist capping a comprehensive Union win with a ball spectacularly finished by Fabian Herbers.

In the U.S. Open Cup against NYRB, Ilsinho sparked the fierce comeback with two spectacular balls to Chris Pontius; the Union’s other winger deposited both into the back of the net to eliminate the Red Bulls from the tournament.

Finally, this weekend, the goals came. Ready to attack a shambolic D.C. defense from the off, Ilsinho wrecked fool after fool with his fancy feet, eventually earning a 39th minute penalty which he dispatched clinically into the back of the net.

With the scoreline a somewhat fragile 2-0, Ilsinho put the final knife into listless United just a minute after halftime. Actually, knife might not be the right word. How’s this: Ilsinho blew up D.C. with a cannon. His scorching volley left Bill Hamid no chance and United no hope.

Acquired late in the winter on a free transfer, Ilsinho looks to be growing into MLS — he’s started each of the last 6 games, averaging 66 minutes in each. It’s taken some time a guy who came into camp at less than full fitness, but much like Roland Alberg burst onto the scoresheet about six months after being signed, it looks like Ilsinho is ready to do the same.

No defender wants to face him one-on-one, for fear of being turned into just the latest whipping boy in the Ill-skill highlight reel.

The Brazilian’s bravura performance against DC United earned him a rare 10 from PSP in our player ratings, and it also entitles him to our Player of the Week award. Caipirinhas for everybody this week — and maybe more in the months to come.

PSP Player of the Week Awards, 2016 Season
Ilsinho (7/12)
Chevaughn Walsh (7/6)
Roland Alberg (6/21, 6/28)
Brian Carroll (4/26, 6/1)
Richie Marquez (5/24)
Keegan Rosenberry (5/17)
Sebastien Le Toux (4/19)
Tranquillo Barnetta (4/11)
C.J. Sapong (3/22)
Chris Pontius (3/15)
Andre Blake (3/8)

3 Comments

  1. pragmatist says:

    I love that Curtin referenced the And1 Mix Tapes while referring to Ilsinho. That perfectly sums up what it’s like watching him sometimes.
    .
    I expect JP to walk on the field at some point to announce his moves, then dramatically drop the mic when Ilsinho makes a hapless defender fall over.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uRx1IqKj-0
    Our very own Hot Sauce.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    The MLS website also has him listed as their POTW.

  3. He is so valuable to have when on the ball in the box. It can be frustrating when good build up fizzles after a poor touch in the box. Between him and Quillo, we have talents that readily push ahead and take guys on in important areas. Add CJ’s prowess for winning aerial balls and Alberg’s heat seeker strikes, and it starts to make sense how the U lead the league in goals scored. I love supporting this fun, hardworking team!

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