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Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 0 – 2 New York City FC

Photo: Earl Gardner

The discussion about Jim Curtin has been extensive and justified. The tired old saying goes that trying the same thing multiple times and expecting different results is insanity. But a rigid manager doesn’t absolve the players of blame. They are wholly responsible for their performance on the field, and how could anyone say that their performance on the field has been adequate? Let’s break it down player by player and consider how well they’re doing their jobs.

Before we do, a quick reminder about how PSP does player ratings: 5 is an average score and points are added or subtracted from there. So a performance of 6 is a fine score, and a 4 leaves something to be desired but isn’t horrible.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 5

In fairness, he did keep this game from being a complete embarrassment with his usual acrobatic excellence. You really can’t blame him for letting David Villa pull a Carli Lloyd on him; those hail Mary shots work because no sane keeper expects them. You can, however, fault Blake for what happens after he blocks a shot. Obviously he can’t catch everything, but on numerous times Friday night, he blocked a ball only to have it fall at the feet of the New York attack. It didn’t cost him this game, but if he doesn’t get a handle on this habit soon, it will.

Keegan Rosenberry — 4

It was speculated that Rosenberry wasn’t wowing this year because he had to cover for Onyewu’s less dynamic defending. Maybe he had to stay back to babysit Jack Elliott in his first MLS start. Whatever the case may be, Rosenberry needs to get back to the form that made him such a surprising asset last season if he’s going to see another above-average score.

Jack Elliott — 6

This score comes with the qualifier, “for a rookie”. Mistakes were made. There’s no question about that, and if he had more time under his belt his rating would probably suffer. Still, he proved he was mentally prepared for the game by refusing to back down just because his job was to cover David Villa. He read the game well enough to intercept several potentially dangerous passes from NYC FC and overall preformed like a player that’s closer to being ready for MLS play than some of the Union’s regular starters.

Richie Marquez — 5

We were treated to a signature Marquez slide tackle in the second minute, which would have stopped an attack by New York’s Rodney Wallace if the offside flag hadn’t gone up. Beyond that, Richie stayed on his feet for most of the match, save for a pretty clear handball in the box at the 29th minute which he was lucky to get away with. He was also partially responsible for Jack Harrison’s goal, but it’s hard to fault an outnumbered player for failing to solve a problem created by a teammate.

Fabinho — 3

First off, maybe if he actually bothered to tuck his shin guards all the way into his socks he wouldn’t lose them like he did in the seventh minute. Just a thought. But curious sartorial decisions aren’t the reason for this low score. Poor defending and ineffectual offensive contributions are. He was a key contributor to the pinball game in front of the Union’s goal that closed the first half, and some sloppy play lead directly to Jack Harrison’s 52′ goal.

Alejandro Bedoya — 6

Putting players in position to best use their talents yields positive results! Who would have thought? He still isn’t delivering up to his paycheck, but his shot in the 28th minute was the Union’s best look at goal all game.

Haris Medunjanin — 5

He does a lot of things other players don’t, and he doesn’t do a lot of things those players do. So instead of making the same comparison that’s been made before, consider this: Suddenly the Union’s love of long-ball offense looks like a conscious decision rather than the only option left to a team without a plan.

Ilsinho — 3

There’s a new name on the back of the jersey, but it’s the same shortcomings as before. He’s a master at one on ones, making almost any MLS player look a fool if he finds them alone. But once he jukes one player, Ilsinho will probably just dribble into a crowd of three defenders and give up the ball. At one point the ancient treasure that is Andrea Pirlo out hustled him to the ball, so even with the obvious improvement in fitness over last season he’s still not exactly quick.

Roland Alberg — 3

After his admittedly wonderful cross in the 28th minute, Alberg failed to have much meaningful impact on the game. Maybe this is a product of fitness. Surely many can relate to playing hard early in a game only to find you don’t have the endurance to keep it up. The difference is Alberg is an allegedly professional athlete. It is literally his job to keep his level of play up. Ignoring the fact that he should have kept fit in the off-season, we’re now three months past the start of preseason. If fitness isn’t here yet, will it ever be?

Chris Pontius — 3

Pontius has had hot and cold streaks before, but at some point it stops being a streak and becomes the new normal. So we shouldn’t be surprised what happens on the field is missed passes, wasted shots, and long minutes without any impact on the game whatsoever.

C.J. Sapong — 5

For all his problems, C.J. has never stopped trying for this team. New York’s clean sheet does mean his goal-scoring “streak” has ended, but when you’re the only attacking threat it’s easy for the other team to shut you down.


Fabian Herbers (60′ for Pontius) — 4

Thirty minutes is a healthy chunk of time to make a difference, and Herbers failed to do that meaningfully.

Adam Najem (71′ for Alberg) — 5

It’s hard for anyone to make a difference in 19 minutes, particularly if you’re playing your first 19 minutes in MLS at a position that requires a high level of understanding with your team.

Jay Simpson (78′ for Ilsinho) — 5

Again not much can be learned from so short a shift, but why is he only getting so short a shift when it’s clear other players on the field aren’t working out?

Geiger Counter

Jose Carlos Rivero — 4

Missing Marquez’ handball was a big gaff, and there may have been a New York handball in the 4th minute that was ignored as well. Other than that, there were good calls and there were debatable calls. So standard MLS fare really.

Player of the Game

David Villa: I mean, really.


  1. *gets popcorn*

  2. Joel Pterosaur says:

    I’m going with negative eleventeen for all.

  3. On Ilsinho: I was at the game and noticed on several occasions that when Ilsinho would move the ball down the wing and would get closed down by three defenders that NO ONE even made an attempt to get in his zip code to give him an outlet pass option. Three Union players would be standing in the box waiting for an aerial cross that was never coming. I would have stopped U-10 practice to point out to the team that someone needed to help him out. Other times, I noticed he’d drive centrally and get closed down. Hard to blame him when he knows that if he actually plays down the wing, he’s on his own.

    Alberg, on the other hand, you won’t hear me stand up for #10 any more. Curtin has been too kind in describing him as unfit. He was all sorts of slow and poor.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Yes. I’ve argued this for a year and people are like …ya ya ya… ilsinho ilsinho ilsinho.
      …as if he’s the problem- the problem is without a question a lack of off the ball movement for him. Stultifying.

    • Re: Ilson i agree totally. He had a meh game for sure, but I just love the fact he is the ONLY one who does those thigns. Yes, he loses the ball and dribbles into pressure and has no end result.

      But one the other hand, he finds space, he has the BALLS TO DRIBBLE and TRY something, and he is always making himself avialable.

      If we had herbers he would just be as invisble as Pontius is on the left.

      • I agree he tries things, but honestly there is no end result and there has never been an end result. Looks at his career number. He’s a streetball player who doesn’t add goals or assists, doesn’t play defense, and doesn’t force the other team to change anything. Maybe if we played him as a 10 that would work, but he’s part of the problem (although at this point who isn’t?).

      • Which comes back to Pete’s original point, doesn’t it? Is the problem Ilsinho, or is the problem that his teammates would rather watch his moves than run and give him options.
        And for whatever it’s worth, I actually thought Ilsinho put in a decent effort defensively Friday night. I can recall at least twice in the second half watching him come back hard deep into his own defensive zone to help out.

      • Yeah, his d is horrible anymore and there is at least effort there. But the dude has played for a long time and the most goals he has ever scored in a season (in all competitions) is 6. That’s just not good enough.

      • I think both of those – his defensive prowess (or lack of) and his track record – are fair criticisms.
        He’s clearly not a good defender. But his effort on defense has improved greatly, in my opinion. He’s hustling; he’s trying to get to the right places, including pushing into the defensive final third where in the past he would stop and “cherry pick” any sort of outlet ball. Sometimes effort is enough to get the job done. Sometimes it’s not. I’ll take a creative player with some defensive shortcomings; I can always opt to sub him off late in a close game to improve my defense on the wing.
        His track record is what it is. I’ll gladly take six goals out of Ilsinho in a year, plus some number of assists – 4-6 sounds good to me; your mileage may vary. Pete’s original point, though, still stands. His teammates aren’t working for him when he does attempt to take somebody on. Much like Pete, I’ve stopped U-10 practices to point out that problem; standing around and waiting for a skilled player to do something is a killer because even if he does pull off some magic, he then has nowhere to go with the damn ball.
        If the team were moving for him and he were scoring 6 a year with 4 assists, I’d be content with that – assuming production from other players as well, of course.

      • Fair enough and a do agree that people watch him, but I also think he gets himself isolated sometimes. He also has become so predictable that I think teams have just started sending a guy at him and then having someone a few feet away to clean up. Also 6 goals is his max. Realistically he’s a great dribbler, who tries hard, who gets you 2-4 goals and probably 4-6 assists. I’m sorry but those not good enough numbers.

      • John’s done a great job advocating for my view here. And I get the point, A. But ideally, Ilsinho should be creating for you more than scoring himself. And he can’t create. This team’s game plan on the attack is both inept and too easy to read. It’s being shut down. It’s almost as if they’re running NFL plays with no room to improvise moment to moment as a play develops. Why no one rushes over to provide an outlet pass for Ilsinho is incomprehensible to me. And I swear to God, I noticed several of his teammates STANDING in place just watching him. Didn’t these guys watch the film sessions? Everyone else did.

  4. I’m unable to go to Saturday’s game – my daughter is testing for her black belt. I’m not the least bit saddened.

    • Well, at least one of us will get to see “Philly tough” in action.

      • Well, to be fair she would’ve tested a year ago if she weren’t injury prone. A knee injury kept her from last spring’s testing cycle, and a concussion kept her out of the fall cycle. My wife and I have considered wrapping her in bubble wrap this week…

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Don’t forget to wrap it in duct tape!

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    David villa was sensational in that game and hammered some poor Tweeter for giving Villa hard time for rolling on ground after Elliot foul as if that was what he took from that game.
    For me to believe in Earnie and Jim Curtin—as the Sporting Director called this…. Process the Union Are In Right Now.. I need to see certain things on the field.
    I need to see Adam Najem in the 10.
    I need to see Wijnaldum as a Left Back.
    I need to see Maurice Epps get opportunities
    I need to see Fafa Picault at least get a sniff of the field for more than a reach around 5 minutes.
    If this is a team looking to grow within a system of play (fine then) and manager looking to grow (fine then), and you haven’t won a damn game in the life cycle of 3/4 of all living creatures on planet earth…I need to see a commitment to young players. PERIOD.
    Otherwise it is lip service and forked tongue speaking.

    • I agree, at least 2 of those 4 things need to happen next game.

    • You are gonna see all those things in the next few weeks.
      And it probably wont make a difference.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      El P, not sure you want to see Wijnaldum yet.
      I’ve watched three Steel games, two live and one streamed, and I am disturbed by a detail that keeps appearing. I don’t break down tape, but for those who do, look and see how many times his mark gets goalside on him. He’s pretty good at defending when he’s caught there, but of necessity he risks lots of fouls doing it.
      Using Najem when trying to come out and play makes some sense if he is not athletically overmatched defensively. If you are defending first D. Jones is better at that
      Epps needs an MLS friendly for me to get a sense of how ready he is.
      Not seen enough of Picault on a game pitch to have any sense of him.

      • While I agree, this team needs someone who can blow the top off a D. It needs to happen, especially if we are playing long balls to the corner. Epps and Fafa have shown enough in the preseason to know they are not just speed guys but have some skill too. We need something different and honestly it’s pretty much our only option on the team right now.

      • Watched the Steel game live in HBG. From what I saw you wont see Wijn or Epps yet. Their side was being abused the entire first half…. probably 6 scoring chances created by their inept defending.

  6. To be somewhat positive, Elliots passing range did look good.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Believe it.
      And it can be inch perfect.
      FC Cincinnati is chortling with glee that he likely will not be around on April 29th at Goodman Stadium. His feed to Cory Burke resulted in the red card, and his feed to Sekt Conner resulted in the winning goal. As an offensive distributor he may well be better that BC and WC

      • He’s better than Marquez and Gooch already (offensively). Him and Yaro could be deadly back there, at least passing wise.

  7. Ernie needs to at least address the fans and take questions from the media this week. The fans deserve to hear something. Every Wednesday it’s Curtain repeating the same thing he said the week before.

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    Lastly and then I’m done for the day because I’m still so damn peeved with this team right now and nothing positive is coming…
    …between the expression on Bedoya’s face post game news reel interview from Friday and the two pictures of him on the front of the PSP board today… one wouldn’t have to look much further to see what the leader is bringing IMO.
    …total failure since he has stepped foot on the field for this team. Just saying. Can’t argue with the win loss draw numbers.
    I politely tweeted him after the match Friday and asked, when was the behind closed doors Captain’s ass reaming of this team coming. No response. I’m not surprised … he thumbs-upped my Gorillaz reference last week though.
    They are in DIRE need of a chewing out… player failure across the board.
    Culture right….. Kephern and Gary and John. Or am I soft?

    • meh

      ass reaming is overrated.

      i want talented players who can complete a pass and run of the ball.

      i dont care that no one on this team is a yeller

      do you think we would be a better team if bedoya was yelling more often or something?

      • pragmatist says:

        It’s a matter of gravitas, not screaming. Unfortunately, we may have a roster devoid of that characteristic.

      • There is one, but he is not playing and hence has less impact. Old Man Methuselah, BC.
        Coach Burke referenced veterans’ presence at half time as helping the Steel come out improved against Rochester. I took that to be BC and Charlie Davies.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        The angrier I get the lower my voice becomes.
        Friends are misconstruing the point… and you bet there needs to be an accountability meeting- because it is clear to me this has not happened.

      • pragmatist says:

        I misspoke – it’s not about volume, it’s about respect. If no one is *actually* a captain in that locker room and they are all just good guys and friends, then no one will care if someone gets angry.
        There needs to be someone worthy of that respect to pull them together. Is that person on the roster? Or will the locker room fall about because someone thinks they are the leader and no one else agrees?

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Fair. And that’s precisely why I called out the captain,
        designated player and face of the franchise.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Unfortunately he has been hurt for well more than a year and the one word response to a request for information suggests the healing is not going well.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        The captain i speak of is Alejandro Bedoya.

  9. pragmatist says:

    That Orlando/LAG game was fun to watch, huh? Great finish, too.
    Get MLS Live. I promise you that there is quality in this league. It’s just not in our stadium.

  10. If anything were to happen, I think it would be more likely after the away game in LA. Even if they lose/draw vs Montreal, the club will be on the road for a week and away from some of the pressure. After the LA game, if they haven’t won and come back home vs the Red Bulls with the same staff and roster, that will be a sight.

    • Unless things are an utter mess (not out of the question), I’d think right before the Gold Cup break is the most likely time. That would give the new coach a solid few weeks to get things rolling toward his system.

  11. We all have our, crap can we even call them favorites, at this point.
    Some love to point out CJ’s work ethic. I cringe every time the ball springs off him as if allergic.
    Some continue to bang on Alberg for fitness, I saw a guy run back on defense an even dozen times because Bedoya was so far upfield.
    Elliot was praised because of Onyewu’s lack of speed, but he turned the ball over 10+ times, mostly without even an attacker in his face. Just random passes to no one but a light blue shirt. Surely we coach to pass to our team only in practice?
    Someone else mentioned this upstream, Ilson is going to look bad because the other teams KNOW he will have no outlet. Bedoya will dart away as if his role is playing tag. Rosenberry hasn’t gotten deep on a run yet. So yeah, he looks foolish when our off the ball movement is so horrific he can be triple teamed.
    There really isn’t the talent on the squad that some in this fanbase have deluded themselves into believing. I’m not being negative. It’s reality.

    • Alberg did get back on defense, I’ll give him that. He was also spent after about 30 minutes and should have been subbed off at half.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    This was a game that if the Union had any quality on offense they would have been up at least 3-0 by halftime with the number of NYCFC turnovers. It made things blatantly obvious how NYCFC lost a game 7-0 last year. And yet the Union could score a single goal. The offensive player ratings should be somewhere in the 1-2 range, not 3-6.

  13. Brooks Peck turns his eye on Philly:

    “David Villa scores from distance because he didn’t feel like running any further. Sometimes it pays not to go the extra few steps. NYCFC were already beating the utterly useless Philadelphia Union 1–0 when David Villa took control of the ball around the middle of the pitch in the 90th minute.”


  14. The debate over Ilson Jr reflects the lack of offensive strategy by the staff.

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