Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 1 – 3 Portland Timbers

Photo: 215pix

A strong opening half hour Saturday saw Philadelphia Union pressure the Portland Timbers, create some opportunities, finish one of them for a 1-0 lead, and then concede said lead. They barely touched the ball the rest of the half. While the home side pushed hard for a goal in the second 45 minutes, the final ball was sorely lacking while defensive errors were not.

It’s hard to place the blame on any one player, as the team as a whole was mired in mediocrity, giving up unnecessary chances and sorely failing to create any potency in the final third.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 6

Perhaps he could have done better on the Timbers’ opening goal, but he can’t be faulted for the following two. Was solid otherwise before being put in an awful spot by Fabinho and conceding a penalty. Improved distribution from last week.

Keegan Rosenberry — 4

A workman-like defensive performance from Rosenberry for 84 minutes. There were few successful forays down his flank and he was often asked to come inside to help with Portland’s ferocious attacking core. His lazy clearance attempt was pounced on by Darren Mattocks and led to the third goal. He continues to struggle with turnovers this year, often gifting possession to the opposition. Pushed higher in the second half, but failed to find a penetrating ball. 

Oguchi Onyewu — 5

Kept Fanendo Adi mostly in check and anticipated the Timbers’ attack well. His diligence kept Blake from having to make any highlight reel saves, but his foul created the set piece for Portland’s second goal. Was lucky not to see two yellows this game, though it just feels like a matter of time. Was promising to see him so involved on offensive set pieces.

Richie Marquez — 5

After a terrific opening goal, Marquez gave the Timbers offensive weapons too much space. He failed to close down Darlington Nagbe on the first goal and nearly gave up a second to Adi soon after. It was his man who scored Portland’s winner, but that’s a hard ball to defend and Medunjanin should have been on the other side regardless. Nearly had more opportunities on goal as the Union pushed for a second.

Fabinho — 3

After having some success in the first half with his go-left-then-cross routine, Portland figured Fabinho out and shut him down over the last 45 minutes. Fabinho remains a willing runner, which is why he sees the ball so much, but when the Union’s offense goes through Fabinho, it doesn’t bode well for the scoreline. Held his own defensively until the penalty debacle.

Haris Medunjanin — 4

Did well on set pieces – both delivering crosses and striking on goal – and starting the build-up. As the most creative player in blue, he often gave up the ball trying too hard to force passes. Could have done better on a few waylaid touches when the Union were seeking an equalizer. Docked two points for not marking Roy Miller on the winning goal.

Derrick Jones — 6

A quietly strong game for Jones. The youngster pushed further up the pitch than we’ve seen in his brief Union career and even had a few chances where he probably should have pulled the trigger. Offensively, he helped facilitate the attack and move the ball between the Union’s lines. His defensive tracking has become more measured and he held the terrific Diego Valerie in check most of the evening. Medunjanin’s lack of marking, however, also meant that Jones was responsible for Nagbe too.

Alejandro Bedoya — 5

Active and hungry, Bedoya was happy to pressure and drive at the Timbers defense early. His eagerness, though, led to some errant touches and lacking passes. Bedoya created real danger around goal in the first half, but, again, he disappeared for stretches and didn’t find enough time on the ball. As expected, looked much more comfortable dropping back once Alberg relieved him of the No. 10 role.

Ilsinho — 4

Despite his efforts and energy, Ilsinho left fans wanting more. His ability to get around defenders remains (mostly) impressive, but what he does with it afterwards is not always so. He had a terrific shot just off frame but was also responsible for some very unnecessary giveaways. On defense, Ilsinho often jumps out of position to try and poach the ball off attackers, leaving the wing exposed and Keegan Rosenberry responsible for two men. On a few instances, these ill-timed forays opened up some scary space for Portland.

Chris Pontius — 4

Looked much more inclined to participate in build-up play this week and was eager to pinch inside and combine with Bedoya, Jones, and Sapong. Had some very poor touches in the second half before getting subbed off. Still looking for that first goal.

C.J. Sapong — 6

Sapong offered some real creativity on the ball that we’ve rarely seen from him. While his scoring run came to an end, he tirelessly tried to create for teammates and opened up play on a number of occasions. Even without a goal, he did enough to keep his starting spot.


Roland Alberg (65′) — 4

Alberg wanted to nail that free kick so, so bad that he Wondo’d it right into the River End. The Dutchman was, at first, determined to prove to fans and coaches alike that he deserves more time on the pitch. He tracked back to look for the ball and tried to find passing lanes to open up teammates – for about 10 minutes. Then he pushed to the edge of the 18 just waiting for crosses and often getting in the way of Jay Simpson and Sapong.

Fabian Herbers (65′) — 4

Brought a steady hand to the wing but failed to provide that final ball the Union desperately needed in the second half. 

Jay Simpson (78′) — 4

Provided some nifty hold-up play the two times he had the ball at his feet, but, once again, it was not enough. This is hardly his fault, but both Alberg and Sapong crowded in next to him at the top of the 18, making it way too easy for Portland’s defenders to cover all three at once. Nearly found the end of a few second-phase crosses, but that was the only service that came his way.

Geiger Counter

Robert Sibiga — 6

A generally well-called game. Could have been harsher on a number of occasions. The denial of Bedoya’s goal-scoring opportunity in the 16th minute could have certainly been an early red card. Did well to take time and confer on awarding the penalty, though video replay would have shown that contact took place just outside the box.

Player of the Game

C.J. Sapong

In a game where no one on the home side particularly stood out, I really liked the positions Sapong put himself in and the vision he showed. Also this dope pass. If his teammates start running off him more, Sapong’s improved distribution could be the creative pivot the Union desperately require.


  1. Before the avalanche of negativity, let’s atleast give some praise to Jones and BOTH ES and Curtin for noticing him and playing him.

    Imagine how much worse we would be if it turned out he WASN’T ready for this level.

    This HG 20 year old playing this well and locking down his role is probably the only super positive part of this season so far.

    • +1. I’d say he’s not only ready for this level, but has probably been our best overall player all year. He’s been at least good in every single game so far.

    • He needs a little more polish, but it’s definitely exciting to have a player who is imposing come up through the system and start. I don’t think anyone wanted to watch Carroll/Crevalle another year.

    • Sorry, but truth is truth.
      Jones from where I sat won the equalizing goal from Nagbe but then tried to back pass to teammates too close rather than clear it out, and Nagbe repossessed. It was the exception to the coaching mantra, play the way you’re facing and keep it simple. He should have put it over the end line for a corner.
      And, he’s got to be willing to try offensive passes longer than ten yards.
      It is his fifth game. It is the first time he has faced a noteworthy true #8 playing in the middle of the pitch, because Bradley isomer of a #6 and tends to start from deeper positions.
      I thought Curtin was right to bring him off when he did.
      And he will be right to start him Friday.

  2. There’s way too much love for a striker who played 90 minutes and didnt register a shot, much less one on goal. It reinforces the fact that his goals as a sub have come from running against tired CBs and cleaning up inside the 6.
    ” he tirelessly tried to create”, my man, we saw two very different games.
    Also, the 4 on Il$inho is harsh. He played Curtin’s game and constantly checked back on D, causing a few turnover from the opposition. Is it that he’s taking on too many defenders or, I don’t know, NONE OF THE UNION FORWARDS OR ATTACKING MIDS GET INTO DANGEROUS POSITIONS?!?!

    • Ilsinho gets a tremendous amount of undeserved criticism in my opinion. I’ll check comments on youtube or reddit after a game and it’s a torrent of Ilsinho hate. I don’t get it even a little bit. He may not deserve praise, but he’s by no means at all deserving of special criticism above and beyond the rest of his teammates. It’s really pretty strange.

      • At least three times after winning the space to deliver crosses or ground feeds, he consistently played the ball behind his teammates.
        I concluded he was feeding a specific spot where someone was supposed to be, because normally he’s accurate.

    • Agreed on CJ, he had an above average CJ game, but still a CJ game. I’d prefer to take a look at him and Simpson together, but otherwise I think he could wreak havoc as a 30 min sub.

  3. Medunjanin is so one-footed and slow, that the only times he can get good passes off are on set pieces. Add in his traffic cone presence on defense and I think we now understand why the Union was able to get him on the cheap.

    Ilsinho seems to do well when others are around him and he can seek to play quick combinations, but when he is on his own in space, he really slows down and gets easily double-teamed. Would love to see him get a shot at the #10 but with Haris out there it would be way too risky.

    I agree that Sapong was good and actually thought Simpson looked sharp as well when he came on. Wouldn’t mind seeing them on the field together more.

    • This is where I hate Curtin’s stubbornness. “But with Haris out there” shouldn’t be some god law written in stone. Things are bad, he needs to make changes and try to create something. Here is something I’d like to see:

      Pontius – Ilson – Herbers
      Jones – Bedoya

      Jones can play the six. Bedoya can roam. Ilson will be surrounded with willing runners AND willing defensive effort.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        So you think that the guy who served in the corner which Marquez scored on as well as forced the best save out of Gleason all night should sit? I’m not so sure about that move.

        Plus, do you notice how much Medunjanin is directing play when he’s out there? He’s constantly telling his teammates where to play their next pass.

      • We haven’t won in 13? Fing games. I don’t care if Medu wears a flight vest and a top gun visor out there. Something needs to change. He’s not untouchable.

        It may work or it may not. Hell give me another option with Medu in there. I’m up for anything new. Point is we can’t trot out the same old BS and pretend it smells like roses.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Good talk.

      • Here’s an alternative shamelessly plagiarized from coach Burke with the Steel.
        it has to be against a lesser center midfielder, and ideally Yaro plays for Onyewu, or maybe Elliott, so a high restraining line is possible.
        Pull Jones off and drop Bedoya to the 8.
        Start Sampong and Simpson together having them rotate at the attacking centered/second striker spot, high pressing available opponents like berserk banshees.
        Coach Burke has done that with the Steel and the energy level of the two at the top of the formation has been phenomenal. If Alberg would watch their tape and play that way he would be an all-star.
        Now, they have had surprise on their side so far. Check in after they play Harrisburg Saturday night.
        It also depends on the same Union players that did not come down to play last Sunday staying away, and the ones that came down coming down again.

      • It’s honestly a switch to a 4-4-2 of some variety. And honestly it needs to happen for at least is as long as Gooch is starting and keeping Rosenberry pinned back. We just don’t have enough offensive firepower right now. So a defensive player must make way for an offensive one. That can be Jones for a Striker, or Gooch for a more mobile CB.

    • I agree with a lot but Medunjanin (while he wasn’t great this game) never has his 10 as a outlet. This is our biggest weakness. Bedoya needs to go to a wing and we need a real 10. Badly. It is killing everything.

    • Medunjanin has positives for sure, the coach just doesn’t seem to be willing to make any kind of change except like to like lineup swaps.

  4. Rosenberry’s distribution depends on others taking up positions to receive the ball at their feet. He is not a big improvisor and looks like he can thrive if the team is organized. The problem is the team is really disorganized ,so that decent players look much worse than they are. Possession and playing to the feet demands structure, not wishful thinking. That is why this coach must be replaced. It is too late for things to get better playing playing this unstructured way.

    • Last season he looks at his best when Ilson was in front of him and they played quick combinations together.

      This season Rosenberry seems hesitant. It probably has to do more with Gooch.

    • pragmatist says:

      He is really handcuffed by Gooch being out there. He is spending his time covering, whether needed or not, and he’s not playing the way that highlights his game.
      I’ve mentioned it a few times, but I think Yaro pushing Gooch to the bench will free up multiple players on this team. Not saying we’ll turn into a CCL-winning team…but better than this crap we’re watching weekly (or “weakly,” take your pick).

      • I agree. My main problem with this is not necessarily that Gooch needs his RB to be closer, it’s that he requires this and we still trot out 2 defensive midfielders. That’s just too much base defense.

      • Agreed, I thought Elliot had a good game against DC when Marquez came out. Know that Curtin doesn’t like to tinker, but wouldn’t mind seeing if Elliot/Marquez pair could work well together and free Keegan.

      • pragmatist says:

        This would the sign of a coach trying to save both his job and the season.
        Unfortunately, Curtin appears to be hamstrung by the notion that they will play their way out of the slump. He is incorrect.

      • I saw somewhere that Elliot could/has also played in the 6. IF we are really speaking hypothetically: Let Gooch hold Yaro’s place and have Elliot play next to Jones.

      • AZ Union is correct.
        Elliott played the ^ in the second half of the “extended training session” aka game scrimmage in unofficial non-league posts, and he started there and played the first 75 against Cincinnati on Sunday.

  5. A 6 is very generous for Blake. In our great start last year he stops that first goal.

  6. I still don’t see how this is not on Curtin more. The players obviously need to play better of course, but the coach needs to make SOME sort of change. It’s all well and good that he finally got CJ and Simpson out there together, but of course CJ is moved to the wing. I don’t care if its an organization wide edict to play a 4-2-3-1, we can’t just continue to get worse and do the same old same old. Curtin doesn’t seem to have grown almost at all since he’s been here. I like the guy and have been eagerly hoping he succeeds, but idk anymore. He just doesn’t quite seem to have the mind for the game. He probably is an excellent assistant.
    Man, Yaro’s return can’t come soon enough. Keegan had everything last year. Local guy, defensively responsible, good eye to join the attack, all-star, national team callup, and then…… Gooch showed up. It’s so glaringly obvious that he is completely hand-cuffed being next to him. Almost all of the push now is done by Fabinho. We need that balance back.

    • Rosenberry needs to play like last year. If Gooch can’t handle that he needs to sit. It’s a necessity to get the outside backs forward if our system is going to succeed. I’d like to see Elliot out there again.

      • Phil in Wilmington says:

        I dunno, I’m pretty sure Yaro would have been split like a rail defending Adi. There will be times when you want Gooch out there. Rosenberry (if he’s as good as everyone says he is) should be capabale of adjusting his game to that, or failing that use this as an apportunity to add that dimension to his game.

      • We gave up 3 goals as is. Maybe with Yaro out there we put a few more in.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Mark this: Gooch will play as long as Curtin is coach.

      • disagree. When Yaro is ready, … .

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    These ratings seem a bit high for a team that lost 1-3 and rarely threatened to score after the initial goal.
    I also think you’re being too lenient on the ref. He failed to give multiple cards to Portland for obvious dives right in front of him. Another time a Portland player went ballistic at the AR and there was no card for that (my understanding is that is one of the things being cracked down on this year).
    I think the Union were lucky that he ruled the PK inside the box since otherwise it likely would have been a red card for Blake and a day off Friday night. Inside the box says it’s now a yellow.

  8. Zizouisgod says:

    Not that anyone cares, but a nice job by Sibigia on consulting with his 4th official when Ilsinho had a hard tackle on Farfan right in front of the benches. Sibigia was reaching for his cards as he made his way over to the play after blowing the whistle, but Jorge Gonzalez, who had a much better view of it, indicated that it was not worthy of a caution. So Sibigia puts his cards away.

  9. Does anyone know when Yaro is due back?

    • pragmatist says:

      Apparently he’s training again, although maybe not at full strength. And of April? Early May? At the latest? If there is a God?

    • they said three or four months at the time.
      My expectation is that once he is cleared for games he would do some rehab at Lehigh with the Steel.
      He will have his own segment of the match report if it is my assignment, as I did with Edu last fall.

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