Player ratings

Player ratings: Whitecaps 0-0 Union

Photo courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps

Editor’s note: This year, player ratings from Philadelphia Union will run separately from our postgame analysis features.

Sunday night’s scoreless draw between Philadelphia Union and the Vancouver Whitecaps showed all the signs that one club played three nights earlier and the other had traveled from the opposite coast.

Not exactly what you want for an opening day, but Philadelphia Union are probably content to take a road point, bringing their all-time opening day record to 1-4-3.

Vancouver outshot Philadelphia 12 to 7, but 4 of the Union’s 7 shots came from inside the 18, while only 4 of Vancouver’s did. Meanwhile, Philadelphia controlled more possession and attacked largely out wide, with just 26 percent of their attacks coming centrally.

Nobody stood out as brilliant for the Union, but nobody earned ignominy either. Here’s a rundown.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 6

Blake effectively came off his line to control the box — and then some. Unless Oguchi Onyewu hits a higher gear, you should get used to Blake compensating like this.

Keegan Rosenberry — 6

Alphonso Davies regularly threatened to put Rosenberry on the highlight reel for all the wrong reasons, but Rosenberry held up, with some help from his friends. His goal-line save off a Jordan Harvey blast secured the point for the Union.

Oguchi Onyewu — 4

If this is as fit and mobile as Onyewu will get, then the Union are in trouble. This was Onyewu’s first regular season match in over two years. He’ll either gradually regain fitness and quickness or be a statue.

Richie Marquez — 6

Marquez didn’t draw your attention often, but when he did, it was usually by bailing out the Union with a clearance from inside his own 18-yard area, which he did five times. Vancouver defenders consistently pressed him while he was in possession but backed off Onyewu, indicating Vancouver believed it was safer to leave Onyewu in possession or that Marquez was vulnerable to pressing — or both.

Fabinho — 5

Decent but nothing special on both sides of the ball, as he and Rosenberry both played more conservatively, likely by coach’s design.

Haris Medunjanin — 5

After spending the game’s first minutes lofting hopeful passes downfield, Medunjanin settled down, completed nearly 90 percent of his passes, and was solid on corners. He never unlocked the Vancouver defense, but that looks like a team effort.

Derrick Jones — 6

Jones looked like he belonged in his MLS debut with some solid tackling, tidy passing, and reliable ball control. However, he seldom passed forward and showed very little off-the-ball movement, which probably contributed to the disconnect between the back line and attack. Still, a promising first outing for Jones, whose positioning, comfort level, and vision will improve as the game slows down for him.

Fabian Herbers — 5

Herbers’s touch let him down a few times and led to dispossession, but his work rate and eye for space put him in decent positions on both sides of the ball.

Alejandro Bedoya — 4

Bedoya’s average position was father upfield than his striker. (Source:

Bedoya’s average position was farther upfield than either Jay Simpson or C.J. Sapong, and the attack stalled at the disconnect between Bedoya and Medunjanin. Still, Bedoya had a brief lively spell early in the second half in which he put two shots on target, including an audacious backheel that nearly wrong-footed David Ousted.

Chris Pontius — 6

A typical Pontius outing: He disappeared for stretches but still looked more dangerous than any other Union player. He was at his best cutting inward with the ball on the counterattack.

Jay Simpson — 4

Simpson was generally a non-factor, isolated from the midfield. He passed cleanly but had to come awfully deep to find the ball and never threatened in dangerous positions. A better pass from him to Herbers on a second half break would have created a stronger threat on goal.


C.J. Sapong — 4

With just 12 touches in 32 minutes and two of five passes completed, Sapong did his best to make Simpson look good. Both suffered from failed linkages between Medunjanin and the attack.

Fafa Picault — 6

Picault looked like he was playing two gears higher than everyone else on the field. Granted, that can happen when you enter the game in the 70th minute, but it’s clear he that he has a few hops to his step.

Unused third sub — n/a

Wait, Jim Curtin didn’t use all three of his subs? Some things never change. Could 10 minutes of a fresh Roland Alberg have served the team better than the ordinary late game performances from Bedoya and Herbers? Considering Alberg doesn’t play defense like they do, maybe not, in which case maybe Adam Najem or Marcus Epps need be in the 18 instead.

Geiger Counter — 7

You barely noticed Sorin Stoica, except when he booked Matias Laba for delaying the game by standing in the path of a free kick.

Player of the match

Alphonso Davies. While it was tempting to focus more heavily on Vancouver’s former Union contingent — the Whitecaps started Union originals Jordan Harvey and Andrew Jacobson, along with longtime Union right back Sheanon Williams — you simply couldn’t take your eyes off Davies anytime he touched the ball. The kid is electric.

Note on ratings: 5 is average. 6 is above average. 4 is below average. 10 is a hat trick and then some. A zero requires you to actively be trying to make your team lose. A 1 is close to that, but without throwing the game.


  1. “Unless Oguchi Onyewu hits a higher gear, you should get used to Blake compensating like this.”
    I just commented about this on Kinkead’s article about the game but I’m interested to see what everyone here thinks as well…
    How secure do you feel about his ability to be able to read and cover balls over the top?
    We know about his shot stopping ability in net but how well do you think he reads the game and how confident are you in his feet and head to even clear balls outside of the box?

    • I don’t think Gooch is gonna get out of position too much for over the top balls to happen.
      He will hang back far enough s0 when that ball happens Blake will be more than athletic enough to close down and handle it.

      • Yeah, honestly I thought a 4 was harsh for a CB when we allowed 1 shot on goal all game. I also think his lack of speed is being overstated. We just played one of the fastest teams and it didn’t matter.

      • It’s not like Danny Califf was a speed demon out there. A Mondragon was a statue out there. A screaming gesticulating statue but still a statue.

      • Those Union teams were not trying to press higher up the field though.

      • Might be. I was torn on 4 vs. 5.

        I’m less thinking about his lack of speed and more his general mobility.

      • I was pleasantly surprised by Gooch. He always had the pedigree, but he never seemed out of position. I was afraid he’d start decking guys who got a step on him…that only happened once, and the ref didn’t seem to mind!

      • If the team wants to high press at times like they did last season then both the midfield and the defense have to follow suit or a single pass will break the press and catch players out of position.
        If Gooch stays back and everyone else presses, he might keep someone onside or cause a gap between the defense and midfield that allows the opponent to break the press.

    • pragmatist says:

      I think playing on grass will change the dynamic a bunch, in our favor. But that doesn’t answer your question.
      Ideally, Gooch or Marquez would have this covered and it wouldn’t need to be Blake. But Blake has the athleticism and improving skill to handle it. Expect a hiccup or two, but I don’t see anything horrible coming down the road.
      Plus, the better he gets at that, the more we’ll get for him in a transfer fee to Europe…
      (Silver linings…)

    • I thought Gooch had an above average game. A 6 for me. Perhaps that was against lower expectations I had, but I thought he turned in a solid performance. I enjoyed him throwing Davies to the ground like the kid was a gnat. Highlight of the match for me (just a step ahead of Fabinho bowling over the line ref).

      • Still have no clue how that didnt turn into a card. Of course I was also wondering how Davies didnt get one of his own for a challenge he put in on Jones a few moment earlier, so I guess this was just a loosely called game. Chalk that up to “we’re even now” and move on.

      • In the replay, Davies looked like he tried to run through Gooch on purpose, almost trying to climb him. Gooch’s shove was a lot lighter than Davies’ reactionary fall. I the ref saw the whol,e hung, he might reasonably keep his hands out of his pocket. That said, a yellow have been hard to argue.

    • scottymac says:

      I’m extremely confident in his ability to read a game. He’s a savvy vet who has played at high levels. If he can’t read a game well, why are the other Ds constantly saying how much they’re learning from him? Now, to the other half of your concern, can he be beaten over the top with speed? Yes. He will try and counter that by shading one way or the other, trying to anticipate the attack.
      Turf was our friend, sure guys can sprint faster on it, but the ball hops and skids more unpredictably than on grass. No one on either team had a good touch on the ball, it careened away constantly. That had as much of a negative impact on offense as VAN’s short rest and the U’s,well, offense.
      TFC at home will be a different story.

  2. lol @ “A 1 is close to that, but without throwing the game.” 🙂

  3. Adam Schorr says:

    I think Blake and the central defenders (especially Marquez, who was very impressive to me) could have been ticked up a notch, and the attackers (especially Simpson, who did not hold up well enough to counteract his lack of speed and shooting IMO, and Pontius, who just spent too much of the game being completely invisible) could have been ticked down a notch.
    Curtin continues to make questionable decisions, waiting far too long to bring on his second sub, never bringing in the third, and never really making an adjustment to revive a missing attack that had plenty of possession with little to show for it.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I was very glad he had the third sub in his pocket in the initial worrying seconds when Fabinho went down late.
      Keeping insurance against a late game injury seems not on the radar of Curtin’s critics.
      If you are down in the match, yes, use the third sub.
      If you are in a position to get a result, you do have something to lose by making the third sub without addressing a specific need.
      A 31-year old-left back cramping up on turf in the first game is not as cynical necessarily as Carl Robinson initially believed. Turns out Robinson was probabaly right, but injury insurance when trying to save a point is not a bad policy.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    Everyone between a 4 and a 6 except the ref who was better than everyone else pretty much sums up the game.
    Actually, I don’t remember the last time a ref had that high a rating and I agree it was pretty much deserved. The only quibble I had with him was on Laba’s yellow. I thought it should have been for the foul, but then Laba probably doesn’t need to kick the ball away as the Union wouldn’t be trying for a quick restart if Stoica is still giving a yellow.

    • I agree, although apparently it’s a point of emphasis this year to force players out of the way on quick restarts, so I can’t blame him for giving a yellow there if that’s what his bosses are telling him to do.

    • An article link earlier this week pointed out that refs have been instructed to issue yellow cards to players obstructing/delaying restarts. So, that was good to see.
      They are also supposed to a lot tougher on the pulling and grabbing in the box on set pieces, but I watched 6 games this weekend and saw NO calls despite some pretty obvious stuff. So, we’ll see on that one…

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Clearly it was a yellow. I was just saying that I thought the foul that led to it should have been a yellow. But I also wanted to point out that had he been given a yellow for the foul he wouldn’t have kicked the ball away. So it all pretty much ended the same.

  5. Dan, for the most part I think your ratings are fair. Bedoya’a and Gooch’s ratings may be a bit harsh. Though if Bedoya is supposed to be the face of this franchise, he needs to do more. If the Union are to score consistently, he needs to do more (yes I will beat this to death till scoring is consistent).

  6. If a point of emphasis for the refs this year is holding in the box, i could see a step-slow/physical Onyewu getting a penalty or two called against him this year.
    I think Blake’s ability to come quickly off of his line was hugely important to the success of this “new” back line (read: specifically Onyewu). The back line’s lack of pace combined with the high press really require Blake to do just what he did.
    love seeing a heading clearance from a keeper!

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