Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Union 2-2 Toronto

Photo: Paul Rudderow

It was cold, it was close, and it’s fair to say Philadelphia Union deserved a better result.

But this team looked much more prepared to bring the game to a Toronto team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, and it gave us a much better look at the first team than the trip to Vancouver provided.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 8

At this point we expect exceptional performances from Blake, and while this performance wasn’t his most acrobatic, it showed that he’s more than just a human highlight reel. Take for example the way he took a boot to the face in the 67th minute, shutting down Tosaint Ricketts and giving us a look at the (suspiciously quick) MLS concussion protocol. It was a brave play, and paired with the diving punch in the 74th minute to make sure Justin Morrow didn’t score (again), was a major part of keeping the Union in this game.

Keegan Rosenberry — 4

Maybe it’s not fair to hold a sophomore to this high of a standard, but more is expected from Rosenberry. His passing was disorganized, and he slept on Morrow twice, allowing a goal the first time and forcing Blake into the above-mentioned flying play off his line. That said, he still had a Marquez-esque tackle in the 38th minute, and he’s capable of doing a lot for this team. He just has to actually do it to get an above average score.

Oguchi Onyewu — 6

If Rosenberry failed to meet high expectations, Gooch exceeded low ones. For someone that was basically expected to be as much a coach as a player, he put in a powerful performance that silenced any concerns about him having to stand in until Yaro comes back. Maybe he should clean things up a bit, but that could have been largely a product of match officials completely losing control of the game.

Richie Marquez — 4

Marquez seemed to make so little an impact on the game that it prompted the question of whether he might be sharing some of his secrets with the rest of the back line. Sharing skills like that is a good thing, but failing to make an impact is not. While it’s hard to note anything he did wrong, failing to make a contribution is performing well below the standard expected from him.

Fabinho — 5

A surprisingly defensive game from the Brazilian, with relatively little exploration of TFC’s end of the field in the first half. He did get a bit more aggressive once the Union were behind though, and overall, he played the reliable and stable play we’ve strangely come to expect from him.

Haris Medunjanin — 7

It’s becoming clear that Medunjanin isn’t the player to do obviously amazing things, but he does perfectly set up his teammates to do them. Take for example the cross to Pontius that let him set up Simpson’s goal in the 11th minute. It was a simple pass changing sides of the field, but it swapped the Toronto defense’s attention away from Simpson allowing him to get in position and take advantage. We might need to stop calling him the new Nogueira and start calling Vincent the old Medunjanin.

Derrick Jones — 7

He received a lot of praise after the Vancouver game, but this game really showed he was ready for MLS and capable of performances well beyond what one would normally expect from such a young player. He was calm on the ball, assertive with his skills, and willing to take chances to make things happen. He showed a little green in letting Altidore rope him into committing a foul that lead to the first-half stoppage time PK, but that says less about his experience and more about the type of player Jozy is.

Alejandro Bedoya — 3

You miss a penalty kick, and you get a bad grade. Granted it bounced off the bar, so it was close. Still, close isn’t good enough, and neither was the rest of the captain’s performance. His passing was sloppy, and more than once he passed into double coverage rather than holding the ball when he wasn’t under pressure. His reckless challenge on Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin in second half stoppage time would have earned a card in a match with a competent referee. A player with Bedoya’s experience, pedigree, and paycheck needs to do better.

Fabian Herbers — 6

He’s not the best player on the field, but Herbers is putting in work this season. Lots of quality service to other players in front of goal, but when the situation presents itself (like it did in the 62nd minute), he isn’t afraid to take a shot himself. Of course that shot didn’t result in a goal, but it was enough to remind the Toronto defense to take him seriously, and that’s exactly what you need to break down a back line and open up opportunities for yourself and others.

Chris Pontius — 5

Part of Toronto’s plan appeared to be to play Pontius out of the game, because he never saw the opportunities we usually expect from him. Despite that, he provided the assist on the first goal and would have racked up a few more if other players had found the back of the net.

Jay Simpson — 6

If we felt like abusing statistics, we could say he was on pace to score 3.2 goals this match before he got injured. It wasn’t a particularly pretty goal, but it’s enough to open his account and showed his intent to score any goal possible for this team. We’ll see if his leaving the field was more about taking precautions in the frigid temperatures than an actual problem.


C.J. Sapong — 5

There’s reason to be concerned about C.J., especially given that he seems to get ignored quite a bit when other players are looking to pass the ball. Either the rest of the team doesn’t trust him, or he isn’t demanding the ball when he’s open. That’s not a great look for a striker valued for his hold-up play. But he did score a goal, hopefully shaking off whatever ghosts are still haunting him from last season.

Fafa Picault — 5

Not much time to look at the Gazelle, but his speed could obviously be a major asset for the Union if he inhabits the Union archetype of supersub. It did seem he got bossed off the ball a little easily at times, and perhaps his time in Europe took away some of the physicality American players stereotypically possess.

Roland Alberg — 5

Short appearance for the Dutchman coming on for Pontius at the 89th minute. Not much to judge him on personally, though he was American football-tackled in stoppage time which segues nicely into our next section.

Geiger Counter

Mark Geiger — 1

WOW. Even if you could ignore the suspect call that lead to Altidore’s penalty goal, you’d be left wondering why Jozy was allowed to essentially body check players at will off the ball without so much as a talking to.

Even if you could ignore that, you’d be confused as to what did and did not count as a foul, let alone a card. This game got physical because these are two physical teams, but it’s a referee’s job to make sure that doesn’t get out of hand. You do that by establishing clearly and early that certain behavior will not be tolerated, something Geiger seemed hesitant to do.

All that aside, his understanding of time mechanics is below that of your average sports radio personality. In a close game, you let the final attacking play happen, you don’t blow the whistle even before the full allotment of stoppage time has passed.

Player of the Game

Andre Blake. This was an easy decision. He played well, showed extraordinary skill, and continues to make goalkeeper the one position Union fans don’t have to worry about. And it’s hard not to give it to the guy who literally got kicked in the face for this team.


  1. Well done, Jim! Agree pretty much with all you wrote. Keep up the good work!

  2. I think you are a little unfairly biased against Bedoya and Rosenberry, but all in all fair rankings.

    • Jim O'Leary says:

      I can see how Rosenberry would be seen as being harsh, but I think it’s more of a progress report for him than an actual indictment of his performance.

      • Ale is the team’s leader and this is a better team playing much better in its first matches. His stoppage time backward challenge to Irwin was well-timed – he plays hard until the whistle blows (prematurely this time).
        A few weeks ago I took his meaningless yellow for kicking the ball in the stands at tje end as frustration at how the team lost that final tune up.
        He’s had a big impact on Jones.
        Hard to grade that.

      • Ale is the team’s leader and this is a better team playing much better in its first matches. He was all over the pitch and kept Bradley mostly in check. The stoppage time backward challenge to Irwin was well-timed – he plays hard until the whistle blows (prematurely this time).
        A few weeks ago I took his meaningless yellow for kicking the ball in the stands as frustration at how the team lost that final tune up. Message to his mates?
        By many accounts, he’s had a big impact on Jones.
        Hard to grade that.

  3. Jones gets my man of the match honors but i think that might be because he is maybe the most fun to watch player this team has ever had

  4. I understand why the penalty miss would cost Bedoya some rating points, but I thought he was vital to the Union’s effort. His energy and availability all over the field helped the team win possession over and over again and he made a lot of very aggressive runs off of Simpson and Sapong that were almost rewarded. I had no problem with his going for that ball vs the keeper in added time. It’s about time the Union had some edge to them.

    • Agreed. The “3” grade for Bedoya was much too harsh, even with the missed PK.

      • If Bedoya screwed up the USMNT chemistry by trash-tweeting Altidore after the game, then I say the 3 is appropriate.

      • Altidore is as much a cry baby as Benny Cryhaber. He needs to put his big-boy pants on and get over it.

      • Jim O'Leary says:

        Dude the joke is clearly “Benny CryHarder”. Missed opportunity right there.

      • The great USMNT chemistry that’s seen them sucking for years?

        It’s about time MLS got seriously competitive and if that means some USMNT players running afoul of each other sometimes, I’m ok with that.

  5. MikeRSoccer says:

    Marquez with a 4 for “failure to make an impact”? A center back is doing his job if you do not mention his name.
    He had an 82% passing accuracy, did not give up dangerous fouls (unlike Onyewu), and you admit that he did not do anything “wrong.” A center back’s impact on a game is ensuring that nothing goes wrong and he was not at fault for either of the goals. Moreover, he showed a marked improvement in his passing and did not default to booting as often as in the past.
    With all due respect, I think that giving a CB a 4 when he does nothing wrong and has a strong defensive/passing performance is not only unfair, it’s objectively wrong. This is especially true when Onyewu gave up at least 2 dangerous fouls that led to chances and gave Altidore an opportunity to steal a PK, but receives a 7.

    • fair point comparing the two CBs. Richie probably would’ve had more “impact” had Gio not been knocked out of the match. i get what Jim’s saying but the rating is harsh.

    • Sebastian Giovinco’s primary impact on the match is as a free kick taker, and you give Richie Marquez a 4?
      The best striker in the league has little effect on the game during the run of play and you give one of the center backs a 4?
      Furthermore, a deadly, fast-counterattack team does not get behind the defensive line in the fashion to which they are accustomed?
      What part of “Nicely done!” do you find does not apply?

    • Jim O'Leary says:

      Pretty sure it was Jones that gave up the PK, and I only gave Gooch a 6.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Gooch was the one who committed the foul that resulted in the free kick where Altidore took the dive.

  6. Hard to fault Marquez or Onyewu for little involvement in the match when 75 percent of it was played in Toronto’s half of the field (that’s an unscientific measurement). I thought Marquez was polished, strong, don’t recall any errors on his part. I’d say he deserved a 5 or 6. Otherwise, I can’t argue with the scores.

  7. John P. O'Donnell Jr says:

    I think a 7 is more appropriate for CJ. He came into the game ready to play. His hold up play was first rate. His run to take the pass on the goal was a thing of beauty and for once he made a move instead of shooting it straight at the goalkeeper. Not to mention his off over looked strong defensive play.

  8. The Chopper says:

    Bedoya too low. Geiger too high.

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    One other thing I noticed with Medunjanin was the hand gestures he was making to teammates helping guide them to the safer passes when they had the ball. It is on field leadership that I really haven’t seen with the team since Mondragon left.
    I’m really looking forward to watching him all season.

    • Honestly for as much as I loved Nogs, his constant hands up in the air frustration patented look is a lot different from Medunjanin’s direction of play, and something I’m glad you pointed out. He is in total control out there and it will only make everyone better.

      • Outside the Box says:

        In all fairness to Nogs, he was playing next to Creavalle and Carroll. I would have loved to seen Nogs with Jones!!!

      • I agree, but he still was expecting other players to read his mind (which as professionals they should) but Medunjanin just takes control and I can’t see that changing no matter who he was playing next to. Just an observation.

    • He seemed more mobile this week.

      • I have not noticed a lack of pace. I’m positive he doesn’t win many footraces. I’m just saying it does not seem to affect his game much. He’s not too slow to do what the team is asking him to do.

  10. I thought this was one of the best games our midfield has ever played — almost what we hoped of a Maidana/Nogueira/Edu midfield. Totally in control. It’s amazing how composed Jones and Medunjanin are.

    And the officiating was totally shambolic. No surprise with Geiger, but it was laughable and seemed like he was totally in the tank for Toronto.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Inarguable from my POV. Said as much after the game. Ball stayed on the ground at almost every turn… less it was a planned field switch.
      …this perspective alone grants Bedoya a higher score in the Triumvirate Composite view. He suffocated Bradley. Rendered him impotent.
      The spine of this team was excellent… excellent against TFC- save some communication errors between OO and KR which is a bit understanding at this early junction.
      Everybody wants mid season form… sometimes it takes till midseason.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Triumvirate Composite: AB, HM, DJ.
        “No. I think I invented it.” ~Rocky Balboa.

    • I agree. I think Harris and Jones look like the best pair we’ve had in the middle in a long time, if not ever. Same can almost be said of Onyewu and Marquez, given how well Onyewu is reading the game and reacting. Add in Ale, who I thought other than the missed PK played much better this week than last week, and we are as strong up the spine as we’ve ever been. If Edu comes back, who do you even want to take out until you know he is his old self.

      • Little Fish says:

        There is absolutely NO WAY I remove Jones from the starting lineup. Whe Edu comes back he’s going to have to play at Bethlehem, or sit. Period!

  11. Jones didn’t get roped into fouling Altidore…Rosenberry tripped him. Jones was just the man covering him. Watch the replay carefully.
    I agree Ale’s and Richie’s grades are too low. Gooch played one hell of a game. He has definitely played better than I expected. I just hope he can keep it up. Someone had mentioned how awkward he looks and I totally agree. He has gotten the job done so I can’t really complain.
    Alberg should be a N/A. He did nothing.

    • It’s amazing how big strong players can get tripped so easily once they realize the ball is being played over their head…

      • …or that referees don’t understand incidental contact (Rosenberry wasn’t even looking in his direction when he tripped him).

  12. My hope is that Simpson’s injury is not serious and he gets back on the field as soon as possible.
    The U’s attacking play changed completely when Sapong entered the game.
    I can recall at least three times Simpson received the ball surrounded by 2 or 3 Toronto players and he deftly held possession and completed a pass to keep us in attack. I’m not saying he’s the next Harry Kane or anything, just that it seemed with him on the field the entire level of play of the group was higher AND Toronto was on its heels.
    Looking forward to more minutes from Simpson.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      100%. Agreed. Yup.
      Congrats to CJ for coming on and making an impact to argue for himself too.

      • Right on about CJ. He showed composure on that goal that I did not know he had.
        The other question I had on Simpson was how much time has Simpson played in / been coached in a 4-2-3-1 system.
        He showed a much more natural feel for the game and I just wonder how much of that is from previous experience.

    • Jim Presti says:

      Whole dynamic of the match changed once Simpson came off. His hold up play was more than adequate, but most importantly he connected well with the midfield and provided a pivot into the attacking third. He also made a few deft runs that pulled TFC out of position and created some additional space for the wingers to work.

  13. I think most of the grades are low. The Union played an excellent match against (probably) the class of MLS, frankly outplaying them for the majority of the match. In particular, these ratings seem to neglect defensive effort.

    For example, I agree with docking Bedoya 1-2 points for missing that PK, but he marked Michael Bradley out of the game almost completely. Plus, while doing that, he got to goal a number of times in the second half. That’s worth at least a 5.

    Similarly, Giovinco hardly got a sniff of the ball in the half he played. That’s on both Onyewu and Marquez, whom I would give 6 and 7 respectively. Even Rosenberry, though he unfortunately fell asleep on that one play, was actually very active and involved in the passing game throughout. I’d give him a 5.

  14. Oh yeah: I almost forgot Herbers. I thought he was really strong. That pass to Sapong for the goal was perfect, and he playing his butt off defensively as well. While a 6 may be a fair grade (possibly a 7), your write-up makes it appear as though he’s more hustle than skill. Dude is not Danny Cruz. If Ilson doesn’t play defense, he may have trouble winning a starting job over the young German.

  15. QuillosMyCat says:

    The rating for Marquez these past two weeks has been way off base. Not sure what you folks are smoking.

  16. Mr. O’Leary, You need to upgrade your rating system. People can only be judged on how well they do what they do; not on how well
    they could have done something else. Assume you took an exam and
    got everything right and got an “A”. The next week you got 2 wrong, which should be a ” B”, but no you’re getting a “C” because you showed that you can get them all right, but didn’t. On the other hand, your grade next week is sure to be good, because you’ve set the bar so low this week.

  17. OneManWolfpack says:

    I thought Rosenberry’s grade was a little harsh, but I can’t argue he looks different from last year. Bedoya’s grade is fine because of the missed PK, but other than that I was totally ok with his play. Marquez was good. He deserved a better grade. What impact do you want him to make? Jozy and Giovinco did nothing – other than the PK, which was a Jones “foul”.

  18. Thanks Jim for going to all the trouble to do the grading – am sure its a lot of work. I guess the question that keeps coming up is are the grades based on some league average player with each player being graded against the same standard with a league average of 5?
    Or is each player getting graded against their perceived ability – ie a bad player (3-4) could get an 8 when he played up to the 5 average of the league and an 8-level all-star could get a 3 when he played down to a 5?
    That aside, Geiger is ridiculously bad. His call for final-time while the Union were entering the final 3rd of the pitch with clear possession was so awful that the players on both sides looked around to see who had been fouled. It actually took them all a minute to realize he was actually blowing the game over. It could easily have been taken as punitive against the Union/SOBs (for their earlier chants) and I hope there is some way for him to be sanctioned for it by the league for it.

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