Player ratings

Player ratings: New York City FC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo by Earl Gardner

Set pieces were the difference on a lovely Saturday afternoon in the Bronx. Andre Blake and the goalposts came up big early and often, and an opportunistic counterattack led by C.J. Sapong and finished by Fafa Picault saw the Union up a goal through eighty minutes. But sloppy defending on two late set piece goals were the Union’s demise, while they were unable to put any of their nine corner kicks on frame.

Points at Yankee Stadium are never easy to come by, yet the Union will feel disappointed going into the international break. The narrow dimensions and embarrassingly slippery and precarious grass meant a physical, pinball game where at least a draw was certainly attainable, especially after going up a goal on the road.

Player ratings 

Andre Blake — 9

‘Dre was again superhuman all afternoon and can’t be faulted for either goal. It’s nice to have such an incredible net-minder, but it’s never a good sign when he has to perform so many miracles.

Ray Gaddis — 3

Gaddis held his own defensively for the most part, but his propensity for gifting the ball right back to the opposition is a possession killer and creates havoc for his teammates. Was flat-footed and ball-watching on the initial delivery that led to City’s winning goal.

Jack Elliott — 4

The lanky defender was given the thankless task of covering David Villa. He didn’t do too badly following the legendary Spaniard into that dangerous space he loves to occupy just above the 18, but his lack of speed showed on a few occasions when he was burnt by Villa and tricky NYCFC midfielder Maxi Moralez. Was given the additional uncomfortable burden of moving up to D-mid when Creavalle was injured.

Oguchi Onyewu — 5

Gooch did well enough in his brief stint before being forced off with an injury. You can’t help but think he would have been awfully helpful on those set pieces.

Fabinho — 2

Man, did the Pigeons go after Fabi. No matter who was on City’s right flank, they fearlessly drove at and terrorized the Brazilian. Once NYC’s wingers made it to the end line, they sent in a flurry of dangerous balls that were redirected at goal.

Haris Medunjanin — 5

After a quiet first half, Medunjanin began to assert himself with vigor in the second 45 minutes, pushing the Union’s counterattacks. Still, with nine corners, you’d really expect him to be able to find some teammates in the box; the Union’s set pieces, though, were benign all match. He certainly wasn’t entirely culpable on NYC’s winner, but it sure looked like he could have made a play on the ball from the near post.

Warren Creavalle — 6

Creavalle was the perfect play on the narrow confines of Yankee Stadium. He continually stunted NYC’s attack with a mix of physical play, smart reads, and feisty tackles. Once he too was forced off the field with an injury, there were acres of space to be had in the middle of the field as the home team went on the ascent.

Ilsinho — 5

Saturday was what appears to be a typical showing for the newly-anointed No. 10. His clever running and passing from the top of the midfield triangle seem to be improving every week. That said, City midfielders Alexander Ring and Moralez knew that if they beat Ilsinho on the dribble the field would open up, which they did quite easily on several occasions.

Chris Pontius — 5

Pontius was once again working hard with little to show for it. His aerial prowess was on full display, and he put in a solid shift of hard-nosed physical play. His finishing touch, however, still seems to be missing this season.

Fafa Picault — 7

Kept in former Union man Ethan White’s pocket for the first sixty or so minutes, Picault exploded for the game’s opening goal with a hard-won turnover, an excellent cut to his right foot, and an even better finish. Defenders across the league will probably figure out Fafa’s favorite move soon, but as long as it’s working, he should keep doing it. The diminutive winger also did well with his defensive responsibilities, working hard to help Fabinho with the constant onslaught down the Union left.

C.J. Sapong — 7

All credit to C.J. on an extremely hard-fought afternoon. He battled every minute and did all the thankless dirty work, often tracking back well past midfield to defend. He did well to set up Picault’s opener, but didn’t have any shots on goal himself, which just can’t happen for a team’s leading scorer.


Richie Marquez (39′ for Oguchi Onyewu) — 4

All the Union subs were forced due to injury and Marquez looked expectedly rusty after a sustained stretch on the bench, especially working with two different young center backs in sixty minutes. He did well when tested on the ball, but his marking was far from perfect on New York City’s opening goal.

Joshua Yaro (71′ for Warren Creavalle) — 5

Anyone else expect Yaro to slot in at D-mid when he replaced Creavalle? Well, he didn’t, but his presence on the backline was certainly a very welcome sight for Union fans. He didn’t seem to miss a step, even when jumping in against a talented attacking team and with the upstart Elliott playing out of position in front of the backline.

Roland Alberg (83′ for Ilsinho) — N/A

Alberg very nearly had a tying goal off a gorgeous free kick, but besides that… nada. He was again mostly invisible, though it’s hard to find touches when the Union were lumping the ball forward for most of his time on the pitch.

Geiger Counter

Hilario Grajeda — 6

Grajeda was fair and level-headed on a typically chippy game in the Bronx. Probably could have gone to his cards earlier, but let the game come into itself and find a rhythm.

Player of the Game

Name: Andre Blake

It’s too bad that Blake’s heroics weren’t rewarded with better defending. He was spectacular again and again looks like he found the form that made him an All-Star and Goalkeeper of the Year last season.


  1. Missed the first half, but the game really did seem to change after Creavalle had to come off. Elliot is not the high energy ball winner that Creavalle and Bedoya are. Looking at the possession stats of the last 15-20 mins of the game, NYCFC had 70-80% of the ball .

  2. scottymac says:

    I like Blake, I really do, but did he connect on one pass all day? I was right on the corner flag and watched him boot it out of play a half dozen times. If Gaddis (who is extremely limited) is knocked for gifting the ball back, Blake should be too. NYC also seems to have the measure of the man as they relentlessly pressured him on almost every back pass. Until he fixes that part of his game, he’s an incredibly gifted athlete who can stop shots with great reflexes. He needs to learn some veteran savvy (he’s 26!) on better ball distribution to help his back line out. It’s not all about being the rubber band man back there.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      To be honest, in my opinion, it is the biggest on field issue facing this team.
      Been arguing this (among other things) since last season.

      • el Poacher says:

        You don’t get to argue everything and then say “I’ve been arguing this.”
        Literally. Everything.

      • scottymac says:

        The faux el P feels kind of ad hominem.
        IMO, you’re allowed to argue whatever here. Sort of the point.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        You are correct, I bow my head to you who is keeping score. Apologies, el Poacher.
        …in other words…shit in your hat.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Do not disagree that it is an important issue.
        In my opinion attacking creativity in the central channel is more important, if and only if the center backs have good passing skills.
        A pitch that is 14 yards shorter, 7 yards more narrow, and slippery affects skills and rhythms that depend on muscle memory. But performance on more conventional pitchesupholds your view that distribution remains a problem.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Way too high on just about everyone, especially the defenders. The fact that NYCFC had 13 shots either on or off target, many of them very good shots, means that the Union defense as a whole was asleep for most of the match.

  4. The Irony was not lost on me that the loyalty code was “SavesbyDre” and then he put in that performance.

  5. After the past few Fabinho performances, Curtain really needs to put Wijnaldum back in.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I guess I wasn’t the only one thinking about building a rocket to launch toward the sun during the game…

      • Nope

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Yeah Fabi was getting worked after about the first 15 mins. Early on I thought he was good. He was up on Harrison and didn’t let him get going at all. Then he either tired or just lost form, because he was wretched the rest of the way

  6. Tim Jones says:

    In reference to Wijnaldum, he started against the Fury for the Steel the next day, was doing well, but was subbed off at roughly 2/3rds of the way in.
    Crazy theory based on no evidence, … . Richie Marquez had some kind of a ugat made him drop weight. Might there be something like that influencing Wijnaldum’s situation? Otherwise, subbing him off, it was not eNtirely clear to me why it was done, but there could have been any number of other reasons.

    • Thanks for the info. If he is getting subbed off in Bethlehem, we probably won’t see him back here for a bit, unless someone else gets injured.

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