Player ratings

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 3-0 New England Revolution

Photo: Earl Gardner

After an emotionally-draining 120 minute midweek U.S. Open Cup loss to the Red Bulls, Philadelphia bounced back to quell the Revolution.

It was a much needed result.

An early penalty saw the Union jump to a 1-0 lead, but they ceded control as New England dictated possession in the first half. The Revolution, however, couldn’t translate their time on the ball into quality chances. It was similar to the Red Bulls own style from Wednesday.

Just as they did against New York, Philadelphia dominated after the halftime whistle. Unlike their performance in Harrison, N.J., the Union finished. Two superb strikes in the second half helped the home side cruise to a 3-0 victory.

New England were coming off their own Open Cup clash with D.C. United, a 2-1 win. They failed to build on the result and remain winless on the road. Eight of the Revolution’s ten starting outfield players  from Sunday took part in the midweek fixture.

Fatigue, however, cannot excuse their performance. Philadelphia started six players who saw action on Wednesday, four of whom played over 100 minutes.

Let’s take a look at their performance, as well as the rest of the winning side.

Player Ratings

Andre Blake – 7

“It was one of those not so busy nights for me.” Blake is right about this. He did, however, come up large on New England’s only dangerous attempt. As Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara sprung a first-half counter, Blake read the movement well. The keeper closed the space on Kamara quickly to extinguish the threat. Blake also improved his passing by 30% from last week’s performance.

Raymon Gaddis – 6

It was a risk free match for Gaddis. There were neither high nor low moments. He completed 91% of his passes and New England failed to find attacking success down the Union’s right flank.

Jack Elliott – 7

Elliott was the Union’s best player on Wednesday, going the full 120 minutes. Injury prevented him from finishing Sunday’s contest. Despite the early exit, the Brit is proving to be quite the fourth round find. He has a smoothness that belies his lanky 6’5″ frame. He was a calming presence as the Revolution probed the box, quick to clear a hopeful final ball.

Oguchi Onyewu – 8

Who would have thought a centerback partnership of Elliott and Onyewu would be instrumental in Blake recording the second most shutouts in MLS? Onyewu offers “edge” to the pairing. He was largely responsible for containing Kamara, and the forward had a quiet game. The 35-year-old defender has the smarts to go with his strength, knowing when to step upfield to break up play. He also offered a little bit of speed, winning a foot race with Kamara in the 58th minute.

Giliano Wijnaldum – 7

Wijnaldum has solidified his claim to the first choice leftback role. When the Dutchman has the ball, you don’t have to remind yourself to take a breath. While he wasn’t bombarding down the flank, he played a savvy game, reading the Revolution’s movement. New England looked to exploit Wijnaldum, with 47% of their attack coming down the Union’s left. It proved faulty as he registered four tackles, five interceptions, and eight recoveries.

Derrick Jones – 6

Jones had a quiet game. So did the Revolution midfield. That was largely because of Jones’ ability to identify their runners through the center of the pitch. Jim Curtin has to be a fan of his relaxed, controlled play filling in for Alejandro Bedoya.

Haris Medunjanin – 9

Medunjanin replaced Bedoya as captain in more ways than one. Just like the U.S. international, he was a presence all over the field against the Revolution. While Jones recorded just four defensive actions, Medunjanin registered a whopping 17. He was the dominant presence in midfield, controlling the play of both sides. His two assists were almost a footnote to his overall performance. The Bosnian’s importance to the success of the Union continues to build each week.

Ilsinho – 7

That was one hell of a finish. Fafa Picault’s chip over the New England defense bounced once on the grass before Ilsinho’s first-touch volley was smashed into the far corner. More than the goal, Ilsinho was key in the Union’s attack all night. He made smart, angled runs in the box and his short passing was key to unlocking the defense. The Brazilian, though,  must still be wondering how he didn’t score a second after C.J. Sapong’s centered ball in the 72nd minute left him with a wide open net. Ilsinho’s flair often comes at the expense of simple play. On Sunday, he gave the Union the performance they desperately need from their No. 10.

Chris Pontius – 5

While the end product still wasn’t there, Chris Pontius built on the solid 15 minute shift he put in against the Red Bulls. He continued to win the aerial duels as he has all season. More importantly, the winger was a threat with the ball at his feet. Pontius attacked the Revolution backline with a vigor that translates well for the future. Curtin still needs goals from his right winger, but Pontius’ last two matches show he can still influence a match.

Fafà Picault – 6

Fafà Picault was the only Union member to play all 210 minutes this week. It showed. After racing down the field in the 9th minute, a poor final touch put the ball too close to the keeper. Then, four minutes later, Picault passed on an opportunity to challenge a New England 1v1 with speed. It was a weird match for the winger, as he was involved in the majority of the Union’s quality chances, even registering an assist. He continued to play fast, but his fatigue was evident. While he should be commended for emptying his gas tank, Picault has produced too many “what if” moments.

C.J. Sapong – 8

Sapong ended his scoreless skid early. The forward confidently hit the fourth minute penalty high, hard, and straight down the center. Lately, much of Sapong’s dirty work has occurred too far from the net. He fights for balls and earns fouls outside of dangerous areas. Against the Revolution, this wasn’t the case. Despite playing 105 minutes against New York, Sapong looked fresh. He knocked down headers in the box for his teammates. He used strength and skill to distribute in the final third. Even when Sapong did win the ball upfield, he quickly put the Union on the front foot– once when he found Pontius with a long pass down the right and again when his cheeky back heel pass sprung a Philadelphia counter. His lay-off to Ilsinho in the box should have earned the striker an assist to go with his goal.


Joshua Yaro (63′ for Elliott) – 5

For playing close to 30 minutes, it was a nondescript performance from Joshua Yaro. New England failed to produce any threats after his introduction for an injured Elliott.

Roland Alberg (78′ for Ilsinho) – 7

Has anyone ever had a better first touch? Kevin Kinkead may need to rework his top ten Union goals of all-time. Poor Ilsinho must have thought his goal would have been the one to be remembered.

Ken Tribbett (87′ for Medunjanin) – N/A

The only thing his introduction allowed was a deserved ovation for Medunjanin’s performance

Geiger counter

Chris Penso – 8

Nobody has a conclusive angle, but his decision to award a penalty on Benjamin Angoua’s handball was the right call. It looked to have occurred right on the line, and that is part of the penalty area. Also, Angoua didn’t deliberately handle the ball. When you are doing the Queen’s wave, though, your arm is definitely in an unnatural position. More so, Penso did well to control the match after the initial call, highlighted by his diffusion of Picault and Gershon Koffie’s petulant display in the 64th minute.

Player of the game

The No. 10

While Medunjanin and Sapong may have been the individual stars of the game, Ilsinho and Alberg gave Philadelphia what it needed most– contribution from the No. 10 position. It has been the sorest of subjects for fans, who have had July 10 circled on their calendars since the season opened. The Union got two sublime goals from the position. It’s statistically significant if nothing more. While it may not translate for the long term, it was a welcomed salve on Sunday.



  1. It was a great goal from Alberg, but I’m afraid it going to cloud the fact that I still don’t think he belongs on this team… I watched him after the goal and I could almost see, “Yup… did my part, cruise mode…”

    • Totally disagree. 2 goals in 2 matches deserves a start. Pontius was terrible: many bad passes and again no goals nor any offensive threat. He needs to be rested. Next game: Alberg at 10 and Ilsinho on the right.

      • Agree, Guido. Even though I don’t see him as a #10. I’d be fine with him on the right side. No way he does less than Pontius — and I like Chris Pontius a lot. He just hasn’t been able to play out of this funk.

      • Having Alberg at the 10 and Ilsinho out wide is what a lot of us seem to be thinking. Just wondering how much defense we lose because of it.

    • ^^^THIS. In spades. But I will forstall my usual Alberg-bashing, because that was one sublime strike.

    • My feelings change regularly on Alberg, but that’s a nice weapon to have off the bench later in games. I don’t really see how he’s ever a starter though on this team, and get that he’s an expensive guy to keep around for 20 minutes of action each game.

    • Pretty much the whole team was like that after the goal. NE threw in the towel and the last ten minutes felt like an training exercise…

    • What an awesome strike!
      That said, you cant start him. Alberg costs you too much on D to have as your #10 the whole game. You are essentially conceding the middle for the opposition’s build up play.
      The only way he belongs on the field as a starter is if they give up on their precious 4-2-3-1 and go to a 3-5-2. In that formation I would start him up top next to CJ.
      But we all know that’s not going to happen.

    • John Harris says:

      Lots of walking from Alberg. Be done with him as soon as possible.

  2. Wow I’m loving Harris settling in, what a baller. I’m not worried about Fafa’s finishing, he has bagged nice goals this season. If he was dissapering from games, then I would be worried. We should probly get used to Fafa having his arm grabbed as he blows by MLS defenders around the league. Credit where credit due: Fafa, Harris, and Oguchi have been fantastic signings

  3. I love me some Haris Medunjanin, but you absolutely cannot give him a 9 for this performance. In the first half he was responsible for 3 nearly-disastrous turnovers in midfield. One of them could perhaps be jointly blamed on a communication error between him and Onyewu — maybe we’ll give Haris half-blame for that one — but two others were entirely on him. (In fact, I think one of those might have led to the huge chance for Bunbury that Blake had to snuff out — not positive about that.)

    He made up for it with his second half performance, including the two assists, and the pass to Picault for Ilsinho’s goal was his usual marvelous. But I’d give him a 7 because of the aforementioned. And I figure his performance might have been a little off because of fatigue. I would not be surprised to see him have a major let-down game in KC this coming week.

  4. And speaking of Onyewu… he’s my Man Of The Match. The FS1 announcers were pretty terrible, but the one thing they pointed out with which I agreed was the frequency and tenacity with which Onweyu snuffed out anything that came his way. He was the linchpin in keeping the sheet clean in this match; for once, it wasn’t Brick Wall Blake (who didn’t have much to do).

  5. It is my belief that Haris Medunjanin is the best field player to play to ever play for the Union. The way he controls the game is fantastic. I thought the Union would have a hard time replacing Barnetta but they have found the perfect replacement. I loved Barnetta’s fire but if you saw Haris’s fire after the 1st PK was scored, you will see that he is a natural born leader and knows when to get the crowd fired up. It is going to be very interesting to see him over the next few years and love the fact that he appears to be committed to the long term success of the team.

    Gooch’s experience has been fantastic as well.

    Who would have thought a 32 and a 35 year old would be leading this team like they are!

    Let’s get back to .500 on Thursday, boys! Go Union!

    • Dooping in Arkansas says:

      Now just imagine a lineup with Barnetta, Bedoya and Haris all out there together. That would be a fun group to watch.

  6. FS1 gets a -10

    Cameraman misidentified Dan Nolan as Jim Curtin during intros . . . and the guys in the booth just went with it. Cameraman I can understand but the guys in the booth should know better. Even if they don’t know Curtin (who they should as game prep) they should know he always wears a suit for games . . . and even if he were to wear a warm up jacket . . . it’s very doubtful he would wear one with the initials “DN’ emblazoned on it!

    Oh and they butchered Medunjanin’s name all day. Again if you are getting paid for this some prep work is required. It’s one thing to get it wrong, but they mispronounced it DIFFFERENTLY each time! It think my favorite was when the pronounced it ‘Medellin’ as in the Columbian drug cartel

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Game in game out total TV failure.

    • ‘Colombian’ . . . not sure why I couldn’t edit within the 5 minutes.
      The only good part was the sideline reporter (a feature of all sports which I generally despise) actually got some pertinent info from Curtin at half-time regarding Fafa and Ilsinho and boom five minutes later they hooked up on the goal

  7. This was a fun game to attend.
    That being said, I think the MotM was, again, the right goalpost. It saved the clean sheet.
    Seriously, though, if the U can figure out how to make their first half like their second half, they may actually make a stab at a playoff run.

  8. On Onyewu’s apparent head injury after Kamara’s reckless bicycle attempt in the box. I was at the game and saw, and more gut-wrenchingly, heard the contact. For the length of time he was down on the field, his initial reaction right after the incident and the dazed look on his face… absolutely can’t believe he was allowed back on the field. Concussion protocol has to either be revamped entirely or enforced more stringently. I’m the last person that wanted to see Onyewu leave because he’s been very good for us this year, but you just cannot mess with people’s brains.

    • On the replay, it really looked more like a glancing blow than anything serious. I think the look on his face was more shock and worry (“Holy shit! I came thisclose to getting cleated in the face!”) than injury.

      • Just Here to Learn says:

        Can one of you experts please explain to me why no card was shown to Kamara for this incident?

  9. Darth Harvey says:

    Box Score has a glaring omission…. they didn’t include the 90 contra-hypothetical minutes that Maurice Edu recorded during this game that was played on Earth 614 of the multiverse…can these meta-statistics please be included in the future?

  10. Benjaminho says:

    Haris: best player ever wear the blue & gold. Loved him since I saw the first fuzzy YouTube matches in pre-season. Unwashed soccer masses talking about lack of hustle and writing articles about basketball. Pfffft.

    • In all fairness, it took him about half a dozen matches to find his groove. Also, he did make 3 horrendous giveaways in the first half. We’re just fortunate that the Revs were missing Agudelo and Fagundez and Rowe. But he’s certainly one of our best ever.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      In further fairness, Medunjanin didn’t start to really look good until immediately after PSP’s writer wrote the post you’re referencing. I’m not saying there’s a cause/effect there, but I’m also not saying there’s not.

      • Benjaminho says:

        Haris quality was there from day one for all to see. He hasn’t magically turned into a different player in 3 months time. If you and your writers couldn’t see the class from the start you should ask yourself why and reconsider the content of the articles you post.

  11. River Schuylkill says:

    If Alberg is getting on a bit of a goal-scoring run as he did last year, I’m all for starting he and Ilsinho together for a few games until a trade/transfer is made (hopefully) for a true No. 10 this month. Nothing wrong with playing the hot hand, and Ilsinho in his natural position.

  12. 7th best goal differential in all of MLS. Just sayin’.

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