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Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 2 – 1 Colorado Rapids

Photo by Paul Rudderow

Four wins in a row, a new team record. And four decisive wins at that. It’s probably safe now to say that these results weren’t a fluke. In fact, with every passing week the start of the season looks more and more like the aberration. Part of the turnaround is due to several players stepping up their game, be it rookies exceeding expectations, new signings adding something new to the mix, or veterans putting their experience to work. But that doesn’t mean this team is firing on all cylinders. There are some significant issues that really showed themselves in the first half of the game against Colorado.

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

Not much was asked of Blake. Only one of Colorado’s six shots was on target. But Blake was caught flat footed by one shot and Colorado went up early in the first half. Granted, the real blame for that goal lies elsewhere, but however you slice it saving 0% of the shots you see isn’t a good stat.

Giliano Wijnaldum — 7

This guy is pretty good. He doesn’t have Fabinho’s offensive aggression, and the fact that this was his first MLS start showed in the missed passes that can only be attributed to breakdowns in communication. But his technical skill, especially when on the end of a signature Medunjanin long pass, paired with his speed, will make him a very exciting player to watch develop.

Oguchi Onyewu — 4

Either we should be proud of Gooch for not playing the enforcer as the game got more and more out of control, or disappointed that he didn’t take advantage of the chaos to knock Colorado’s players down a few pegs. Whatever the case, he seemed almost afraid of Calvert when he got the ball on the breakaway, and by not closing on Calvert, he contributed directly to letting Colorado get ahead early.

Jack Elliott — 4

Overall, he’s done a great job filling in while the Union’s “starting” centerbacks recuperate. He shows a lot of promise even if he’s not quite a finished product at the moment, but in going forward for a header that he missed, he left Caleb Calvert wide open leading to the Rapids’ goal in the fifteenth minute.

Raymon Gaddis — 5

This isn’t an endorsement of him still being in the lineup. In his substitute appearances since being benched, Keegan Rosenberry appears to have returned to the form he was in last season, but it’s hard to fault Ray for stepping up to the challenge and continuing to be a reliable player the Union can still count on.

Haris Medunjanin — 6

A pretty silent first half was one of the many symptoms of an unquestionably rough start to the game. But a perfectly played free kick has him joining the likes of Kleberson and Barnetta in winning the game will a beautiful free kick at The River End.

Alejandro Bedoya — 4

A quiet game for the captain, with no real standout contributions. Plus he let the sloppy play and officiating get to him and gave away a dangerous free kick. Not terrible, but the Union can’t afford him disappearing like this against more challenging opponents.

Fabian Herbers — Incomplete

After going down in the 26th minute, he instantly indicated that he needed a replacement. Obviously he knows his body and knows when he isn’t capable of contributing, but it just seems odd especially in the context of him not seeking medical treatment and instead watching the rest of the game from the sidelines.

Ilsinho — 5

The holes in the “Ilsinho as 10” experiment showed themselves this game. On the wing, Ilsinho could afford to duck in and out of play, esspecially when it was on the opposite side of the field. A 10 doesn’t have that luxury. Yet there was plenty of action in the center of the field that Ilsinho wasn’t part of, which is part of how the first half got so far away from the Union. Not necessarily an indictment of a player playing out of position, but definitely an indicator that the Union still need to find a more permanent solution.

Fafà Picault — 6

We knew he was fast, and he showed it in this game. More than once, a Colorado pass that seemed out of reach for the Union found Picault’s feet breaking up a potentially dangerous attack. He still needs work on his attacking product, and he seems surprisingly easy to muscle off the ball for a player with NASL and 2. Bundesliga experience. Overall, he’s integrating well and showing to be a great resource for the Union either off the bench or as a starter.

C.J. Sapong — 6

It was only a PK, but PKs still count. Now, Sapong has surpassed his goal scoring record from last season. He’s even on pace to deliver the twenty goal season he wanted last year. Pair that with refusing to let Colorado’s smash-mouth play throw him off his game, and Sapong is looking as good as he ever has.


Chris Pontius (for Herbers, 27′) — 5

It was supposed to be a rest day for Pontius, but he still put in good work replacing the injured Herbers.  He probably could have scored too if Simpson had passed to him once Howard was committed in the 90th minute.

Jay Simpson (for Picault, 62′) — 4

Being brought in to be the high-paid striker has to put a lot of pressure on you, even if it’s just in your head. So it’s understandable that you are going to take every shot you can, especially when you’ve had a hard time finding the starting lineup. But there’s no excusing it – when he and Pontius broke away in the 90th minute, he tried to best Tim Howard rather than make the easy pass to Pontius for what had to be a gimmie goal. It didn’t matter, the Union still won, but team goals have to count more than personal ones.

Warren Creavalle (for Ilsinho, 86′) — 5

Nice to see the Guyanese international is still the solid, reliable player we expected. Though the short appearance makes it hard to draw any real conclusions.

Geiger Counter

Jose Carlos Rivero — 3

First thing first – it was good to see Calvert get punished for intentionally wasting time, and then receive a second yellow for trying to sneak back on the field unacknowledged. It’s one thing to stretch the rules, it’s another thing entirely to disregard them. But the most flagrant disregard for the rules was perpetrated by Rivero himself. Whether it was repeated steamrolling of players, first-half time wasting by Howard, or a blatant handball in the box, Rivero seemed committed to not taking control of the game. The fact that somehow Mike da Fonte made it through the game without a card or even a stern talking to, is a perfect example of how poorly managed this game was.

Person of the Game

Name: Conor Casey

Not only has he continued his streak of “inexplicable ejections upon returning to Chester”, he also took the time to be decent to fans in The River End on his way out. Obviously Denver is his home, but it’s nice to see him still have a positive relationship with us here in Philadelphia.


  1. MikeRSoccer says:

    Struggling to understand the Ray rating compared to Gooch. On the replay of the goal he has an opportunity to use his speed to make a challenge – which is his job in that situation, but wanders away from the play for some inexplicable reason. Gooch did not step but Ray has to make the first challenge there. Where was he going?

    • Ray had an opportunity, but watching again from home, Gooch not only didn’t step,he kept retreating into his box. Odd decision making that deep in a dangerous part of the field. Several players slipped up on that sequence.

    • Bobby8385 says:

      I imagine he figured that between Onyewu and Medunjanin the initial attacker wouldn’t be able to beat both of them and the best play was to cover the potential passing lane. It looked like he was trying to fill that space on the replay. Blaming him for that goal is pretty silly either way. It was just a sneaky change-up shot that nobody expected. Give the kid credit.

  2. I honestly felt like Herbers was the clear weak link in the first half. His touch and quick touch was NOT up to par with everyone around him.

    • Herbers and Gaddis. That right side was killing every play in the beginning of the game.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Herbers touch fails him almost continuously. It is a liability and his play often is a liability when asked to build ….not just end up on a through ball to finish.
      It’s why I don’t rate him highly.

  3. bbaltrus says:

    Gadis will cost us a game soon. He is not the reason the defense is better. Please get Rosenberry back on the field ASAP

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Rosenberry is directly responsible for a gol against almost every other game yet Union have given up 1 gol in 5 games ray has played which you claim has nothing to do with him….
      Meanwhile Union were getting scored against at an unprecedented rate in the beginning of the season.
      Interesting stuff.
      Ray is what ray always has been- an above average defender with minimal offensive impact. Keegan is a below average defender with above average offensive impact who turbos the ball over this season.
      Pick your poison.

      • yes but gaddis’ play will catch up with him. Rosenberry can only get better. Honestly I think a duck has more creativity then gaddis. Once teams start specifically scouting gaddis hell become a load of goals.

      • I pick the guy with the higher ceiling.

      • The CBs have also changed and our CDMs are not getting run over now.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Fair point A and I’ve considered that in my assessment. I agree Keegan has a higher ceiling and believe he is the long term solution too czack, at the moment though, I think Ray is playing better and this is clearly why Jim Curtin is going with him over Keegan…. its likely Ray is out training him during the week NOT out and out costing Union goals against which is undebatable based on evidence of gols against.
        If that narrative changes, Keegan will get his chance again I’m sure and he better play better than he has been this season.
        I think Josh Yaro covers for a lot of Keegan’s misgivings as a player and when Josh isn’t there, we kinda see the wholes in Keegans game more glaringly.

      • I agree with pretty much all of that. Honestly this would have been a good game to get Rosenberry in under the guise of squad rotation (I am assuming that Curtin didn’t want to swap out both FBs and Gaddis didn’t finish the last game anyway) because Colorado is so pathetic going forward but pretty tight in the back. Seems like a perfect game for a more attack minded/talented RB.

      • Maybe bring Fabinho back next week vs another bad team and bring Keegan back in for Gaddis. That way they aren’t switching both outside back “starters” at once.
        Would also love to see Ilson get a rest. Maybe they start CJ as hold-up attacking mid with Simpson above him. Then ideally rest CJ 2nd half and let Alberg in for the 1/2 a game that he is willing to run.

  4. pragmatist says:

    I’m not sure why Herbers didn’t go for treatment, but Curtin said that he’s going to be out for a bit. It may not have seemed like much at the time, but apparently we are down a wing player for a few weeks.

  5. These scores all seem kinda low for a comfortable win, especially on D where we gave up 1 shot all game.

    • I had the same thought. If a 5 is average, not sure how so many players can get a cozy win out of below average performances. Yeah, the first half was rough, but they bounced back well. I’d give Medunjanin a7 just for that amazing free kick golazo. I’d curve most of those scores up a point or two.

      • They were dominating the first half, a couple of players just kept shooting the build up in the foot. Colorado never looked on the front foot and constantly gave us the ball right back. Honestly if we had a rested squad (I know Colorado was tired/rotated too) and Ponitus and Fabinho (Wijnaldum did nothing in the first half), the game is probably over after 30 minutes.

  6. I hate the term “trap game” but lacking another term this fits. All the signs were there: Mid-Week game, not a great 1st half, giving up a weak goal, a sketchy ref and a struggling opponent. You know the saying “Play a Philly team! It’s good for what ails you!” Finally though things fell in favor of the Union. No panic and no quit. Good on this team. Still want that X-factor proven DP at #10. The fans deserve it.

  7. I don’t blame Simpson for trying to take that last minute 2-on-keeper shot by himself. Pontius was in an offside position for most of that run.

    • Yeah I didn’t understand that comment. Not only that, but the only time Pontius was available for a pass (besides being offsides) was WELL before Simpson approached the box.

      Then Pontius decided to cut underneath and take himself out of the play, and there was no passing option.

      Basically by the time Howard was actually committed, Pontius was not in a position for a pass.

      • The biggest thing that Simpson did wrong was he floated off the the right a decent amount on his break instead of staying central and really gave Howard a better angle.

    • That was a goal against any other keeper (besides Blake perhaps).

    • I agree totally. I was at the game, looking straight at that run, and I didn’t blame Simpson one bit. He’s a striker, and he needs to put the ball in the net to get himself going. It took a heck of a save from Howard to keep him off the scoreboard too.

  8. I was far more impressed with Wijnaldum than I expected to be. I don’t know whether it was his physical attributes or his positioning, but he never had to do the kind of emergency slide tackling that always features in Fabinho’s game.

    I can’t criticize Simpson for going for goal. Can’t expect more from a striker than being goal hungry. Tip of the cap – tremendous save from Howard.

    Bedoya deserves another point for blocking and clearing a very dangerous Rapids opportunity in added time.

    Gaddis is the place where attacks go to die. This doesn’t work in a 4-2-3-1. Having dangerous outside backs is mandatory.

    • Gaddis either passes back to Elliott or runs fast down the sideline to each have a second player strip him of the ball or attempt a cross that is blocked.

  9. A four for Elliot is harsh. One major error yes, but a big reason the Union’s possession was so good, is because of Elliot. No more bombs for CJ to win a 50/50. Elliot’s passes were crisp and on target even to wingers forty yards up the field.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      100% spot on assessment.
      His distribution is first rate and guarantees him above average numbers even when an outlier mistake needs to be accounted for.
      Elliot is on his way to rookie of the year consideration if he keeps getting minutes.

    • I felt like that the scores were a little too kind honestly. Colorado didn’t look to attack much nor did they heavily press our CB’s. Despite that, both of them contributed major defensive mistakes several times in the game.

  10. el Pachyderm says:

    MLS wants physical games. Referees continue to get blamed for not making calls as though they are blind and intentionally letting the game slip.
    Mandates are mandates. MLS wants a physical league.

    • I hadn’t considered that for some reason. Makes more sense than the other explanation: Our refs are blind. It’s actually the thing that makes me wince the most when watching MLS. Play can get medieval sometimes. It’s really not fun to watch. Looks sloppy and miserable. I want to see football, not UFC.

    • pragmatist says:

      I don’t mind physical games. It’s a contact sport – let them contact each other.
      What drives me insane is the inconsistency. That needs to be addressed league-wide. It varies week-by-week, game-by-game, and half-by-half.
      Give the players one set of rules and stick with it. We’ll all be fine with that. But don’t call ticky-tack crap one week, and then let a WWE match go uncalled the following week.

      • Tim Jones says:

        To draw from another sport in an earlier time, Pete Rose kept a book on umpires and would project which ones would be behind the plate for his games.
        Refs have their own unique characteristics.
        That being acknowledged, we could hope for greater consistency on matters like time-wasting.
        The last point to make is that refs on the field can see eyes and faces and can judge intent much better than can I, for example, 20 rows up at midfield using 67-year-old eyes.

  11. QuillosMyCat says:

    I thought Wijnaldum was great. I’m tired of hearing “they aren’t ready” or people judging players on where Curtin puts them on the depth chart. #PlayYourKids

    Agree with most folks here, Herbers was having a terrible game before he got hurt.

    Bedoya looked gassed from the opening whistle. Sloppy tackles all game. The dude plays a ton of soccer and when he does, he goes all out. I don’t blame him. I’d like to see Jones give him a rest when he needs it.

    Last year when Sapong went on his drought, he was always a few yards behind the ball, or would fall in the box trying to draw a penalty. I saw a bit of that here. We can’t drive the guy into the ground again. Maybe Simpson should have started. No issues with the non-pass either. As others have said, Pontius took himself out of the play or was offside.

    I too wondered why Jim keeps playing Ray over Keegan, but watching the game, Ray just plays better defense then we’ve seen from Keegan this year. Even when KR was subbed in the game before, he was just a step slow. Keegan is still our future, but (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), I feel safer with Ray starting right now.

    Other than Wijnaldum, I didn’t really notice any of this till I watched the replay on TV. I love being at all the games, but I miss so much.

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