Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: D.C. United 0-4 Philadelphia Union

Well, that was fun, huh?

The Union put together a complete team performance for a full 90 minutes in their last-ever trip to RFK Stadium. With the monkey off their back, the Union were aggressive and cohesive, punishing D.C.’s listless defending and not giving up any big chances themselves. It was an impressive, focused effort that resulted in the team’s third shutout in a row and four pretty goals on the road.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 6

Didn’t have to do much between the sticks, but took care of all the crosses that came his way. Had a few poor clearances that could have duplicated the howler he gave up last time in D.C.

Ray Gaddis — 5

Made some unforced errors and was beat a few times in the first half when he was dragged inside, which may have had something to do with the injury suffered last week. Came back stronger in the second half and shut down all forays down the right wing.

Oguchi Onyewu — 8

A tidy game from the birthday boy capped with a well-taken headed goal off a corner, where he is a terrifying presence for opposing defenders. Needs to be careful with his fouls coming through attackers from behind (though, it must be said, it’s gotta be hard to be light on your feet with that frame). Paired with Elliott, he is vigilant and imposing, and he took Patrick Mullins out of the match. It will be interesting to see if he keeps his starting spot on Wednesday versus Houston.

Jack Elliott — 9

Elliott continues to show his terrific instinct for the game, stepping up and cutting off numerous D.C. attacks before they could even begin. His passing and vision out of the back continue to be huge assets. A truly veteran-like performance from the rookie.

Fabinho — 6

Received an early yellow card and may have gotten away with a foul in the box on Lloyd Sam. Fabinho didn’t push forward much, but he didn’t have to. Despite losing some aerial battles, he locked down his side of the field for most of the night.

Haris Medunjanin— 9

A terrific overall display. Let’s hope that ball was laid to rest after it was absolutely killed by Medunjanin on that incredible screamer to open up scoring. Medunjanin was all the superlatives for 90 minutes. He linked lines beautifully, spread the ball with his trademark passing, delivered dangerous corners, and pushed higher than we typically see, resulting in numerous Union chances and a direct hand in three of the four goals. He even threw in some solid defensive work. There’s no doubt he’s finding his place on the field and in the league.

Alejandro Bedoya — 8

The Union captain has stepped up and brought the rest of the team with him. Bedoya owned the midfield and kept the temperamental Luciano Acosta in his pocket before the latter’s sending off. His work rate on both sides of the ball continues to be mind-boggling. With the introduction of Warren Creavalle, Bedoya pushed higher and delivered the assist on Herbers’ golazo.

Ilsinho — 6

Roland Alberg’s injury meant we got to see what many PSP readers have clamored for: Ilsinho at the No. 10 spot. It was a mixed bag in his sixty-plus minutes. Per usual, there were the dazzling dribbling runs with disappointing final products. Yet, he was on the ball often and linked play well between Bedoya, Medunjanin, and Sapong, even though he noticeably drifted to his favored right side. His defensive work rate has no doubt improved as well.

Chris Pontius— 7

A quietly strong performance. Pontius’ greatest contribution may have well been his defense. His tireless pestering rendered Lamar Neagle and Taylor Kemp absolutely ineffective and pushed play back to the middle, where Bedoya vacuumed up the ball. Combined well with C.J. Sapong up top and could have very well added more assists to his tally.

Fafa Picault — 7

This is the performance from Picault that Union fans have been waiting for. He struck a great goal and made intelligent runs that pulled apart United’s defense all night. That cut to his right foot is something we’ll likely see more of. Small stature and all, Picault even found the end of a few headers in the box. It was certainly the winger’s most involved performance, though it sometimes cost the team its width as he often had to drift across the field to find the ball. Now that he’s got his first goal out of the way, you’d like to see him work more with Fabinho up and down the flank.

C.J. Sapong — 8

Sapong didn’t find the back of the net at the Union’s goal party, but he was once again instrumental in the attack. Much of the team’s offense flowed through him as a willing creative facilitator. His defense continues to be solid, and he created the turnover that sprung the Union for Picault’s goal.


Fabian Herbers (63′ for Ilsinho) — 8

What a touch on the final goal. Immediately active and hungry, Herbers impressed himself upon the game for 40 minutes and continued to drive at the defense as he makes his case for a return to the starting lineup.

Warren Creavalle (77′ for Chris Pontius) — 6

Solidified the midfield to hold possession, close out the game, and keep the shutout.

Jay Simpson (80′ for Fafa Picault) — 7

Simpson badly wanted a goal and was unlucky not to find one or an assist, for that matter. His passing was on point and he combined extremely well with Herbers and Sapong. A very solid substitute appearance that bodes well for future late game appearances when the Union need a goal.

Geiger Counter

Chris Penso — 4

Both Jim Curtin and Ben Olsen were jawing at Penso from the opening whistle. He called an extremely tight game at first, which, 20 minutes in, looked like it might end like the classic 10 v. 9 fiasco in 2012. The incessant whistle really interrupted play during the first half and halted any sort of flow or momentum. As the game wore on, Penso became increasingly inconsistent with his calls. He got the cards right for the most part, but United fans will probably feel hard done for letting Fabinho’s tackle in the box go unpunished.

Player of the game

Haris Medunjanin

In his young MLS career, Medunjanin has often showed his quality in fits and starts – precise passes, set piece deliveries, or free kicks that exhibit what he’s capable of. On Saturday night, Medunjanin put together an incredibly complete game for 90 minutes, doing everything he was signed for with skill, style, and panache. If he keeps it up, so will the Union’s run of good form.


  1. If Yaro comes back healthy, having him back there with Elliot will finally give us the type of passing CBs we’ve wanted for years.

  2. The Truth says:

    Herbers > Ilson Jr – Is it even an argument anymore? Gaddis continuing to start games doesn’t make a lick of sense (aside from his obvious recovery speed to cover himself as well as Elliot). Hamid is so frustratingly good against Philly. Fafa actually played well and I’m pleasantly surprised.
    Edit: Blake really needs to do better with his delivery. I have zero confidence when the ball is played back to him. How hasn’t he improved in this area of his game?

    • I haven’t really focused on it enough to really quantify but I feel like most of his shanks when the ball is passed back to him come with his left (weak) foot.

      • HopkinsMD says:

        Yes, the ball has been unpredictable coming off his left foot. Too many times, he went long when he had short options to maintain possession.

    • Blake’s distribution has improved, but only from terrifying to merely frightening.

      Last season he never attempted anything other than a short pass, whereas this year he is at least mixing it up with some longer balls downfield (albeit with extremely mixed results).

      I’ve never understood those who think he could be sold on to a bigger league, because ability with the ball at feet is essential.

    • People need to realize sometimes players are better when being a sub. Herbers looks good at times, but lets not forget he disappears totally for games at a time – this happened a lot lat year and even in games he started this year.

      Herbers was very effective running at a tired defense that was down a man, yes.

      Let’s not pretend that translates into a super duper starter when he WAS A STARTER for a while and had as many invisible games as impactful games.

      • The Truth says:

        Ilsinho isn’t bringing anything to the table. Production is abysmal and he’s not half as hungry as Herbers. That’s my big argument.

      • Disagree, Ilsinhos skillset is what he brings. His ability on the ball is capable of changing the shape of the defense and he is the only player on the team who can do what he does.

        Yes, he has a lack of productions. Yes Herbers does. I realize that. But Herbers is feast or famine. Like Pontius.

        Ilson has a unique skillset and is the only player on the team who can beat someone on the dribble. That is worth something.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        So Pontius (4 assists) and Herbers (1 goal, 2 assists) are feast or famine when compared to Ilson Jr. (0 goals, 0 assists. 1 SOG)?

        They both seem like feasts to me.

      • Yeah, they produce but they also have games where they completely disappear and have no impact.

        I’m not trying to say Illson is great or that he even deserves to start. But this attitude that he is a crap and provides nothing is wrong. His ability on the ball makes defenses weary and when he is in form he can add to our offense in ways no one else can.

  3. pragmatist says:

    We left so many goals on the table…and it was irrelevant. At a certain point you had to realize it was a combination of 2 things: We are not as bad as we had been playing, and DC was horrendous. That could have been a 6-8 goal game with a little more accuracy.
    Fafa was what we were looking for from him. It’s nice to see our wings playing so well now. This isn’t a bad thing, but who gets the minutes if form holds? You have Bedoya/HM at the 6/8. Then you have 4 guys for 3 spots, without even counting Alberg. Can Fafa, Pontius, or Herbers play out of the middle? If not, that means Ilsinho at the 10 and one of those 3 on the bench.
    Good questions, and an example of the depth we thought we had when the season started.
    We don’t see a Giovinvo-type on the roster yet, but if we can continue the team-wide effort, we’ll be fine.

    • as the goals came pouring in i thought the same, this could’ve been a much higher score. i was willing Fafa a goal. he was getting robbed. very satisfied he opened his account.

  4. Unionjacq says:


    • with the next two matches and six pts on the line, i’d say this is April all over again. get these wins and right the ship.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      +1. Hopeful.
      when I see you post ~I hear, Radiohead, “Sleepyjack the fire drill,” from the song Morning Bell.

  5. We’ve been beaten down as Philly fans for so long that we’re ok winning 2 games in a row against sucky teams, being at the bottom of the table, and playing a 4-2-3-1 without a true #10. I don’t care if we win our next 10 games, we need a real DP #10. If we’re good now (I don’t think we are) then we’ll be great with that missing piece and could duplicate Seattle’s MLS Cup win last year when they added Lodeiro. That’s the argument Earnie should be making to Richie Graham and Sugarman. As fans let’s not settle for an attacking core of Herbers, Pontius, Fafa, Ilsinho, and CJ, because we’re not winning anything with that core.

  6. We still need a #10. Having said that, until Earnie gets us one, Ilsinho is unquestionably the guy who belongs in that spot on the current roster. Nobody else should be starting there. He wasn’t even that great in this match, but you could see the potential, especially given that he’s rusty and hasn’t played there for us before.

    • pragmatist says:

      I still think CJ would be pretty good there, with Simpson up top. But I’m not holding my breath for that scenario.
      Not a long-term solution, just a way to use who we already have.

    • I really wanted to see Najem on the field at the #10 for the last 10-15 minutes.

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