Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 3 – 3 Montreal Impact

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Media, fans, and commentators alike joined in a chorus of emotional statements this week about a Union team adrift in a stormy sea of mediocrity.  So did Union sporting director Earnie Stewart, who reminded the lot that the weather was, in fact, fine, and that his was a beautiful and strong boat and nearly unsinkable, with a captain as well supported as the current one.

For more than an hour, the sun shone above Talen Energy Stadium and the Philadelphia Union dinghy paddled along with nothing more than the flight path of a winding Piatti to trouble them. That seemingly innocuous sign was a harbinger, unfortunately, because the next half hour felt like the dirge that is Gordon Lightfoot’s, “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald.”

The wind and the wires made a tattle-tale sign, and a wave broke over the railing
and every man knew, as the captain did too, t’was the witch of [mid-April] come stealin’

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 – 4

For much of 2016, the argument against the Union was, “They wouldn’t have won if not for Andre Blake.” Considering the Union made an effort to identify and draft the Jamaican international, that argument always seemed hollow; he was their best player, and on purpose. Eventually, though, his defense is going to have to do more to bail him out because, even in spilling a late chance onto the feet of an opponent for the equalizer, Blake wasn’t bad… he just can’t stop everything.

Ray Gaddis – 5

For a guy left adrift behind Rookie of The Year candidate Keegan Rosenberry in 2016 (and making his first start in any competition since July of that year), Gaddis reminded Union supporters of what he brings to the table: good defending, particularly in recovery, and occasional forays into the offensive third, with mixed results. Neither was spectacular, but that’s not Gaddis’s game or his job. He wasn’t really at fault on any of Montreal’s goals, and he contributed to Union possession with a 74% pass completion rate.

Jack Elliott – 6

Perhaps no defender deserves an above average rating in a game in which three goals are conceded, particularly when the equalizer is scored by his man. Elliott gets this rating because, in each of the three Montreal goal sequences, he and his line were hung out to dry by the midfield, making their odds of success small. Elliott did more for the Union offense than most of his offensive teammates in this (or any) match, winning a very mature and savvy first half penalty.

Richie Marquez – 4

The regression of Richie Marquez is a hard pill to swallow for Union fans who’ve grown to love his positive attributes but lament his seemingly weekly slip-ups. He wasn’t singularly at fault for any of the Impact’s goals (though the second should have been better covered by him) but did little to stop any of the three either. As defensive statistics go, Marquez was below average there too, with only three clearances to his usual 4.4. A dreary day for all Union defenders, including this one.

Fabinho – 4

If the lasting image in your mind about the Brazilian left back in 2017 is his failed bicycle kick clearance-recovery-penalty late in the match against Portland, you’re not alone. Despite this, Fabi hasn’t been bad this season and wasn’t bad against Montreal. However, his task of trying to neutralize Dominic Oduro is a difficult one for any player, and if Oduro had been a bit more clinical in his finishing, the Ghanian would have had two first half tallies, and the scoreline wouldn’t have been nearly as flattering to the Union in the end.

Haris Medunjanin – 3

Haris Medunjanin did what he is expected to do for his Union teammates: serve tasty crosses, diagonal passes, and through balls. At his best, he did just that, getting a second assist on C.J. Sapong’s headed goal. However, he is partly at fault for two of Montreal’s three goals, not tracking aggressively enough when Ignacio Piatti gutted the Union midfield (though pointing and gesturing with furor) or on the final goal, when a simple knocked down long ball should have been covered by the defensive midfielder. Instead, it was turned into a shocking three-on-three with two uncontested shots.

Alejandro Bedoya – 6

There’s no question how Alejandro Bedoya felt about this game. His fiery and honest comments after the match elicited a collective “It’s about *swear word-ing* time!” from Union fans. His work rate was unquestionably the highest on the team as well, save for maybe the bludgeoned C.J. Sapong. Bedoya made good runs, got stuck in on challenges (winning seven), and did better in possession than he has in most of the season thus far. His number would have been higher if he too had helped stop either of the aforementioned scything Impact goals or if he had contributed one of his own.

Ilsinho – 5

For a player with two names, Union fans have come to expect two things: unparalleled creativity and a maddening lack of finish. Starting on the left side of the midfield for the first time this season, Ilsinho provided both in this match, with a cheeky and perfectly timed flick to Jack Elliott to earn the Union a penalty, and little else before or after that. That being said, his passing was better than in previous matches, and he didn’t run down nearly as many blind alleys either.

Roland Alberg – 7

Good in possession, involved in the Union’s defensive pressure, and a perfect two for two in shots gets the Dutchman his best rating of the season. Few players on this team have the calm and poise to fake one way and slot home the other in the manner that Alberg did in the 5th minute. He did enough to score his penalty, too. This game displayed signs of life from Alberg that perhaps represent one of the few remaining slivers of hope for Union fans.

Chris Pontius – 4

In switching to the right hand side, Pontius got some of his groove back that had been missing since the early parts of 2016. His aerial win and nodded header to C.J. Sapong was what he does best, but he gets a low score because it was from his side that each of the Montreal goals were scored before Pontius was subbed out. He can be seen in the frame of both goals, neither time doing enough to stop them.

C.J. Sapong – 8

With a goal and an assist, Sapong is likely many pundits’ Man of The Match. He was also the victim of no fewer than seven fouls, which in many instances would have earned bookings or a sending off for the men marking him. The Union could have used that sort of outcome too, unfortunately. With more touches than Pontius, Ilsinho, or Alberg, Sapong helped build the Union attack and served as the tip of the team’s spear in defense. Whatever “Vintage C.J.” is, this was it.


Fafa Picault (66′ for Ilsinho) – 3

In a match where the Union had the ball only a third of the time, Picault didn’t see much of it while he was on the field. That’s not the bad part though. The bad part is in the 80th minute when he finally did get possession, he slid his breakaway chance into the feet of an onrushing Evan Bush. To paraphrase Alec Baldwin, “Coffee (as well as higher than average ratings) is for closers.”

Fabian Herbers (73′ for Pontius) – 3

Herbers is known as one of the most direct players in the league. While that may sound appealing, it’s not exactly what the team needs when they’re up a goal and trying to protect points in every way possible. Herbers’s summary is this: the only player less efficient with the ball for the Union in this match was goalkeeper Andre Blake (Herbers completed 57% of his passes, Blake, 47%, and that includes goal kicks), and neither attempted a shot on goal.

To his defense, it was difficult to gauge the entirety of Herbers’s performance, as most fans of the Blue and Gold were trying to watch the proceedings through bleeding eyeballs brought on by abnormally high blood pressure and the dreaded assurance that points were about to be dropped.

Derrick Jones (86′ for Alberg) – 3

If’s data is any indication, Jones had the worst game of any Union player on Saturday. While that may or may not be true, his job was likely to play as a fifth (or sixth) defender to ensure that his team, the one with the lead when he entered the match, finally took a win. This win was not the outcome of the match for Philadelphia and, on the final goal, Jones can be found jogging aimlessly, 20 yards behind the play.

Geiger Counter

Nima Saghafi – 3

Match officials for FIFA-sanctioned soccer games are issued many things, including one yellow and one red card. Ideally, these can be used to control the physicality of a match, given for offenses such as misconduct or the accumulation of otherwise incidental fouls. Saghafi could have issued perhaps a dozen cards during the match, but only did so four times. This may have changed the trajectory of the match, though the final outcome was not his doing. Even a man up (or two) the Union would have been hard-pressed to be positioned more poorly than they were in conceding three goals.

Player of the game

C.J. Sapong

The ice bath that Sapong likely took Saturday evening or the Halcyon Floats dip he is likely taking today were well-earned and almost everything that Union fans wants out of the players on their team.


  1. i know the last thing anyone wants to talk about is officiating because it looks like making excuses but i was amazed that the montreal guy didn’t get any punishment for his kick out against cj
    also, no marquez score?

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    bedoya also played the terrible defense that sprung Piatti.

    • Once Piatti shifted inside we couldn’t stop him, because we suck defensively inside. Which is clearly the opposite of what our formation is supposed to be.

    • Not trying to be a smartass, genuinely curious; is there a generally thing you have against Bedoya? He did not do what a 10 should to start the year, not even close. He has played fairly well the last two games, and seems to be the only guy who gives a crap. You seem to just generally dislike him, and I’m wondering why.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        I have no ill will towards him. I also recognize I hold him particularly accountable. Shouldn’t he be held accountable though?
        the team has won 2 or 3 games since he got here…almost 300 days ago. I think he’s an average player at best, come home to MLS and is not really making a difference…. at all.
        I would much rather be typing, “man, the move to bring Bedoya here was shrewd, easily an asset to Union and MLS.”
        Not the case.

      • Yea definitely, I was all over him last year and the beginning of this year. I still think on this team he should be out wide, but he has played well the last couple games and is far from being “the” problem.

      • to El P’s point, Bedoya was,whats the word, a lollygagger on the Piatti goal. He lollygagged a half hearted trip foul Piatti danced around. He lollygagged after him. I’m not impressed he was mad after the fact.
        I alos, have nothing against Bedoya. He’s a right mid in a 4-3-3 playing wherever in a 4-2-3-1. Adrift on the waves.

  3. I don’t know how you can give Medunjanin a 3, unless you’ve confused him with Ritchie Marquez (whose name doesn’t appear on you list). Medunjanin’s work to create that Sapong goal was some of the best attacking stuff I’ve seen from this team all season. I really don’t like the expectation that all the players on this team need to run around with lunch pails and hard hats or they earn a 3. I fear our manager uses the same criteria and his success on the field shows you how far that kind of thinking will get you.

    • You can’t not judge a player on both sides of the ball. Medunjanin is a traffic cone and in a game that featured us getting carved apart, he was as bad on defense as he was god on offense.

      • Ok, well in that case other than maybe Elliot and Sapong, every player sucked in at least 1 phase of the game.

  4. Pissed off STH says:

    Manager Curtin – minus 10

  5. The fact that Ciman did not get a yellow card was criminal. I counted at least 4 times he looked to see where Sapong was and then attack him instead of the ball.
    Medunjanin is not a 6. We need a real 6. Maybe Elliot (although who plays CB) or Jones. It’s necessary.
    Our wingers suck. Period. They do no impact the game at all. We would be a better team with Le Toux starting.
    Alberg took his goals well but then disappeared. He’s not a 10 because he doesn’t demand the ball. Although the game plan also seems to be to hit those long diagonals to the wingers. Unfortunately, the wingers suck.

    • Also, Pontius was better than Ilsinho.

    • What makes you think Le Toux wouldn’t be in the “Our wingers suck. Period” category?

      Le Toux has no touch, no vision, can’t weigh a pass.

      • Joel Pterosaur says:

        Because he makes defense stretching runs that occasionally has this result

      • And because every year, even with his limitations, he produced goals and assists. Every year.

      • “Because he makes defense stretching runs that occasionally has this result”

        So he is Herbers and Pontius version 1.0?

        We have enough one trick pony Wingers who disappear for games at a time and can’t threaten a defense besides running fast in a straight line.

        Its time to upgrade ike the rest of the league.

      • That’s literally every player on the wings and #10 position on this team, without the results. I’m not saying I’d take Le Toux over other people we could acquire, I’m saying I’d take him over anyone playing on the wings for this team and Charlie Davies.

      • That makes more sense, but it’s still silly. Le Toux would provide absolutely nothing helpful to this team except some sweet sweet 2012 nostalgia. Our problems are so much bigger then needing a Herbers clone or less dangerous Pontius clone.

      • Why is it silly, Le Toux was a member of this team. We didn’t need to do anything to keep him. Honestly we have lost a first round pick and Le Toux and gotten Charlie Davies. I’m just saying the team is better is we don’t do that. Yes our problems are deeper than a player who is a supersub at this point but the point remains that Le Toux has always produced for us even if it’s not always (or usually) pretty and the same can’t be said of the others.

      • Because Le Toux has an extensive track record of producing offensively EVERY year he played for the Union, and he plays defense and hustles. Those things are clear, whatever flaws he may possess.

  6. Joel Pterosaur says:

    Kevin Kinkead pointed out that CJ actually suffered 8 fouls setting a new club record, because there was a foul that was played advantage.

    • Worth noting is that four of those fouls came after Saghafi pulled Ciman aside, counted out the first four fouls, and gave the universal sign for “No More”. And he promptly allowed more. I will normally give the refs leeway (having tried to do it myself), but that was poor game management.

      • Joel Pterosaur says:

        Yeah, I mean I know I’m biased, but Ciman should have been cautioned numerous times.

  7. Obviously it’s unacceptable to give up a 3-goal lead at home, but had the officiating been even average they probably wouldn’t be in that position. Laurent Ciman committed 2 yellow card fouls in the first half alone and a 3rd in the second and received no more than a talking to. Duvall raked his studs down the back of Fabinho’s ankle in clear view of the ref and a free kick was only given after the Union sufficiently complained. Montreal was playing dirty and were given a free hand to do so.

    • Gaddis got that yellow card though. I think he maybe looked a Piatti meanly or something.

      • Hah, on the broadcast JP and Tommy Smyth were incredulous about that one. They’re ridiculous homers but I had to laugh in agreement.

  8. When Jones subbed in, it looked to me like he was told to play the #10 position — he stayed really high up the field, and looked like he didn’t know what he was supposed to do (because, you know, it’s not his usual position). It seemed like the coaching staff didn’t do a good job of telling him his role.

    • I agree, but we are not built to finish off leads. We literally have 3 players that cannot go 90 (Alberg, Ilsinho, and Pontius), and you’d want to take Medunjanin out too. So we are stuck. I mean they probably should have moved Medunjanin up, but the point still stands.

      • Best move would have been to play Jones at defensive mid, and either take Medunjanin out or move Bedoya to the 10 and pull Alberg.

  9. el Pachyderm says:

    If your pass completion rate is 57% – you are not a first tier professional player. Simple as that.
    Period. The End.

  10. MikeRSoccer says:

    No idea why Rosenberry was sat for Gaddis. While Gaddis was not horrendous, I still believe that Rosenberry is a better one-on-one defender and offers more offensive contributions. If we were planning on benching a player, I do not believe Rosenberry was the first on the list for anyone besides Curtin.
    Haris reminds me of Maidana in many ways. He is extremely talented and does a lot for this team, but his positioning and defensive player arguably makes us worse. I feel that he is a complete liability and needs to be benched or pushed to the 10 spot. He simply cannot sit in front of the CBs or there is a total disconnect. That image of him pointing at Piatti as Piatti runs by him is a perfect example.

    • Rosenberry has been bad this year. He needed to sit. I agree he’s better than Gaddis, but about half the team has had different people put in already.

    • Rosenberry needed a rest I think.

      That said his rest better not last longer than the next game.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        sanitarium type rest?
        Maybe playing in this city… though he’s a local, prolly knows the pathos well.

    • I like Rosenberry a lot more, but begin sat for a game is a good idea. This goes for many players, when you have depth, people should get rest occasionally. Also, I know its a novel concept, but sometimes players and formations should change according to the opponent, not that I think Curtin did that here.

    • Gaddis did better in this game than Rosenberry has done this year. I think he needs to compete for that spot with Gaddis to earn it back, which shouldn’t be difficult if he gains his form from last year

  11. pragmatist says:

    Herbers is starting to feel like a shiny version of Hoppenot and Cruz. The guy you bring on in the 70′, runs really fast at a defense but does nothing to help the team.
    Send him to BSFC. Get constructive minutes. Come back when you are ready.

    • He was always like that, he was just able to score goals and get assists against crap defenses who let him run past them last year. 100% guaranteed Herbers will soon fade away as a player with no touch or soccer skills.

  12. Blake needs to take a refresher course in his goal tending. Yes it’s true that the defense is giving up some easy shots but like wise Blake needs to move his feet correctly . Combined with his incredibly above average speed to react he would be at the level of some of the best in the world. It’s too easy to say he can’t stop everything. Watch the video . He has no power step when shots are beyond his circumference of reach without making a move with his feet. He’s relying on talent and not working on his weakness.

  13. I can’t believe there has not been more chatter on the inept save from Blake on the third goal. Absolutely, positively, without a doubt a 100% attempt at a showman save that went horribly wrong.
    I had a perfect view from Section 114, the save should have been a goalkeeping 101 catch.
    He deliberately pushed the rebound when he could have caught the ball… why? Have no idea.. .
    And if your going to push… push wide, push around the goal, not back out into play.

    • Agreed.
      I think he is a little easier for most to forgive because of how many times he has bailed the team out in the past. But 2016 Blake does not parry that into an oncoming attacker.

  14. I think CJ and Alberg deserve a lot of the credit for a match in which their team scored 3 goals. So, scores > 5 are fine for them.
    As for the rest of the starters, their average rating above calculates to a 4.6 and that does not seem to be close to the truth. If “a 4 leaves something to be desired but isn’t horrible,” then the scores for those other guys need to be revised downward. Montreal scored 3 goals against them, at home. That’s horrible. You think the midfield let the defense down? Fine. Let the numbers reflect that.
    This match made me feel so bad. I can usually take my son with me to watch, but for the next match, when he’s busy, who really wants to go with me? What soccer fan would want to watch these guys play? Maybe I’ll ask someone who has never seen a match in person, I’m not sure. Maybe a hospice nurse.

    • Agreed. These scores are overall just too damn high for blowing a 3-0 lead at home in a must-win game. I’m not saying everyone should get a 2, but for starters, when 3 goals go in, your defenders should be getting less than 4s, 5s and 6s.

      Also, no way does Alberg deserve a 7. His first goal was excellent. His penalty was poorly-taken and he was pretty lucky it went it. He played some OK defense, but he largely disappeared from the match, and he can’t go 90. He scores a brace, so I’ll go with a 6 at the most.

  15. FWIW, Borg says Piatti should have seen red for his rake on the back of Bedoya’s leg. Union related stuff starts at 2.24 min.

  16. A bit harsh on Fafa – he did very well to get that opportunity – it was a very good goal keeping play. He did what CJ needs to do more. Look in the first half CJ had a great through ball played to him near the top/right of the box – his first touch was timid and he took two other touches and never got a shot off. Fafa in nearly the identical situation took his first touch aggressively towards goal and slotted a shot on target that would typically end up in the back of the net 8/10 times. I think the ratings overall seem a bit too dependent on the emotions of memorable plays – which is important, but not entirely fair either.

    • i agree. i think fafa has looked really good in most of his sub appearances and should get the start next game. he seems like he plays a little bit different from our other wingers and we could use the change

  17. If we’re doling out 3s to Fafa for being a little rusty on his touch, goodness. This whole team is a 3 then.

  18. Old Soccer Coach says:

    A 7 for Alberg is a bit generous. Every player must play defense, including the attacking center mid.
    With Alberg, Ilsinho and I am more and more fearing Medunjanin, Earnie Stewart has underestimated the necessities of playing defense in the North American game.
    Before anyone else advocates Derrick Jones as a # 6, please watch yesterday’s tape from the Steel. He is not an offensive distributor, yet. You need that out of your 6.

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