Player ratings

Player ratings: Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Smash and grab in Kansas City.

The Union rode out a terrible first half on a hot night in Kansas and escaped with a point. Overrun for much of the first half, the Union gritted through the second half, found a goal, dug deep, and got some outstanding saves from John McCarthy to head into the Gold Cup break with a road point against the Western Conference leaders.

Stepping in for Andre Blake, who is away with Jamaica, McCarthy made six saves and survived 14 Kansas City corners. The two saves the goalkeeper made on Latif Blessing after the Union had drawn level were tremendous not only for their timing, but the difficulty as well. The goalkeeper was easily the man of the match.

The Union offense struggled to find the ball and was as impotent as we’ve seen them in the opening half. Chris Pontius and Ilsinho were the worst offenders, but C.J. Sapong and Fafa Picault offered little as well.

Roland Alberg continued to be the super sub, scoring off the bench for the second straight match, and third match overall. While his finish was not nearly as pretty as his goal against New England on Sunday, it was a vital one, rescuing a point when it seemed as if Philadelphia could have played all night and not found the back of the net.

Player ratings

John McCarthy – 8

Could have come off his line more quickly in the first half a few times and there were certainly some miscommunications with his defenders, but the kid from the Northeast came up with the saves, six in total, when he needed to. The saves after the Union had leveled (and particularly the save with his feet on Latif Blessing) were absolutely huge, and the only thing that got by him was a perfectly placed effort from Diego Rubio.

Ray Gaddis – 4

The right back did not have one of his better matches since reclaiming the starting role. Gaddis was poor in possession with a number of giveaways deep in his end. The Kansas City attack found plenty of space down his right side during the opening half.  Daniel Salloi danced around Gaddis in the build up to the Kansas City goal as well.

Jack Elliott – 6

Was certainly one of the only Union players who looked up for the match in the opening half. The rookie was forced to put out more than a few fires as the K.C. attack came in waves. He was beaten by Rubio, who did very well to make him dive in on a few fakes, before his fine finish. He had a really fine blocked shot with his head when it looked like Salloi’s shot was going to curl into the corner of the goal.

Oguchi Onyewu – 6

First off, he showed remarkable restraint to not crush Ilie Sanchez like a bug after the midfielder grabbed him by the neck in the scrum following the penalty call. He wasn’t nearly as dominant as he was against New England on Sunday, but the big defender was on hand for some last minute clearances (four on the night) and late blocks inside the 18-yard box.

Giliano Wijnaldum – 6

A solid night for the young left back. Had five recoveries, including an important three after the 85th minute, and was better passing out of the back than most of his defensive counterparts.

Haris Medunjanin – 5

A bit of an off night for the big Bosnian as the Gold Cup break appears to be coming at the right time for the 32 year who has been playing since the start of the last year’s European campaign. The Union midfield was completely over run in the first half and Medunjanin was not nearly as tidy on the ball as we’ve seen him. But he did pick out a fine pass to play in Sapong where the penalty was called.

Derrick Jones – 5

Jones looked tired throughout the match and was definitely chasing shadows for a lot of the opening half, as were many Union players. He probably could have supported Elliott a bit on the K.C. goal, but he finished with six interceptions and five clearances, three of them after the 89th minute.

Chris Pontius – 3

Not a good night for the most recent call-up to the U.S. Gold Cup squad. The wide man was incredibly disappointing in possession during the first half, when the Union desperately needed to hold onto the ball. He also had two crosses that failed to beat the first man in two of the best attacking moves in the opening 45. In 60 minutes of action, he only completed 10 of his 25 passes.

Ilsinho – 3

Similar to Pontius, Ilsinho had a terrible night in possession. Even worse, he only attempted 14 passes in the match. (Screamin’ Benny Feilhaber attempted close to 50 for comparison.) On one of the Union’s most promising first half attacks, he dribbled directly into traffic and was dispossessed, leading to a K.C. chance on the counterattack.

Fafa Picault – 4

Despite playing into second half stoppage time, Picault struggled to be involved almost all night. The winger only had 7 passes in the match, no crosses, and only one successful dribble. He was helpful in the defensive third, with three interceptions and two recoveries.

C.J. Sapong – 5

Returning to face his former club, the striker was not as dominant as we’ve seen him. On a night when the Union needed him to get the ball and hold it up to get upfield, he failed to do that for much of the match. Did get himself into position to draw the crucial penalty. He had a great chance to find a winner, his 10th goal of the season, and a dagger against his former club late on, but he flubbed a shot with the outside of his right foot instead of going with his left.


Roland Alberg – 7

Exactly the performance we are coming to expect from Alberg. Despite playing for over 30 minutes in the central midfield, the Dutchman only attempted six passes. But he was as cool as you like, making Tim Melia go the other way before scoring his penalty, the most important offensive play in the match for Philadelphia. He almost had another immediate impact as he set up a chance with his first touch after coming on.

Marcus Epps – 6

Epps was a positive substitute that gave the Union a little energy after coming on. He had three successful dribbles and gave Philadelphia some time on the ball cutting in from the right and maintaining possession. He certainly can improve his decision making, but has proven himself a viable substitute on the wing. He had the only Union shot on target from open play.

Jay Simpson – 5

Came on in stoppage time and had one chance to move upfield with the ball, but didn’t have a great touch and lost the ball in a good position.

Geiger counter

Ricardo Salazar – 3

Not a lot of flash points for Salazar,  but he somehow missed Ilie Sanchez putting his hands around Oneywu’s neck in the scrum after the penalty call, despite it being right in front of him. Also, he bizarrely did not issue a yellow card to Diego Rubio after he grabbed onto Derrick Jones leg like a petulant child in the first half. He probably got the penalty call right, though the arguments Sapong was offside may have some merit.

Player of the game

John McCarthy

It has to be the young goalkeeper. He made a series of outstanding saves, including robbing Blessing twice in the second half. He did enough to command the box through K.C.’s 14 corners and overcame a weird looking injury when he looked like his knee got caught in the turf as he made a first half save.


  1. Such a sad state when your goal keeper is far and away your best player on the pitch. It really sums up the Union’s entire sports franchise existence from day one.

  2. I do not like how Curtin is a reactive coach instead of proactive.

    Pontius get’s called up (even if he may not actually play), and has been in a bad run of form recently – and you start him? I am wholly unsurprised he looked so bad.

    And Sapong. Good lord. Does Curtin think he is a robot? Not only is his constant starting mind boggling, but his love affair with having him slide to the wing and NEVER taking him off is tiresome as well.

    Look I get it, he doesn’t like to rotate, he trusts his players, the sports science guys say its ok, but I’m tired of this. Almost all of these issues are clear as day as can be gotten in front of and prevented if we rotated a bit better. Especially with the recent schedule congestion, and this long flight on short rest!

    You can make an argument for resting Fafa too after a couple games of constant 90 minute running, or giving Alberg a start in place of Illsinho after some good sub showings.

    None of this happens. We know Curtin is going to wait until these players are run into a ground and go on a 3 month summer drought before doing nothing about it. It’s just frustrating that it is happening in front of our eyes.

  3. I know many of these rankings are probably fine, but can’t help but feel they are all too high across the board due to the incredibly high volume of poor passes all night long. Sure, a 15 minute boost to grab the goal was seen, but for the rest of the night all we saw was poor short passes, ill advised long balls, poor outlet passing out of the back, and poor first touches from everyone on the field.

    Kudos to McCarthy, stepped up big

    Anyone else rubbed completely the wrong way with Alberg taking CJ’s corner? I don’t know why it bothers me so much. If anyone needs/deserves a goal to keep momentum going into the second half it’s CJ

    • azogD'filer says:

      Curtin has stated in no uncertain terms that PKs are left to the players on the field to decide. So, that was between CJ and Alberg…

      • Yeah I get that – which is why I’m more confused CJ didn’t get it, I’m “happy” for Alberg that he increases his Goals:Minutes ratio but felt the guys should have been pushing for CJ to take it. At the end of the day it’s probably the smallest gripe I could have with everything else going on

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I was rooting for CJ to take it but looking back, Alberg made more sense given that his legs were fresher.

      • On the MLS Live broadcast, they said Haris was gesturing to Curtin and clearly upset that Alberg was taking the penalty rather than CJ. That combined with the goal celebration (only 2 or 3 players celebrated with him) and Sorber having a discussion with him at the end of the game makes me think there may be some locker room tension being caused by Alberg. Pure speculation on my part but something to keep an eye on.

      • The only locker room tension seems to be that Albery doesn’t like being bneched and wants to play. Which is great. We need attitude like that on the team, someone with a killer instinct and a bit of an attitude. His ability to score goals is directly related to this attitude.

        You can’t have a team full of nice guys. Unless there are real, confirmed reports of locker room troubles, a fiery player who wants to play more should be the least of our worries.

    • Roger that says:

      I was rooting for Alberg to take it … he wanted it, CJ was looking beat, and he’s a good finisher.

  4. These rankings seem about right; the defense should grade higher than the offense and the 2 subs, Alberg and Epps, did have a big positive impact.

    But if Gaddis is gonna disappear and play marginal defense, couldn’t we get Rosenberry back on the pitch?

    • He’s looked even worse than Gaddis in Open Cup and Bethlehem games. There’s a reason he isn’t being a run out.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    I can’t see giving any of the starters besides McCarthy anything higher than a 5 and most should be lower. If the defenders were playing to the 6 you gave most of them, then McCarthy wouldn’t have had to play as well as he did.
    They get almost a 2 week rest before a huge stretch of games during the rest of July. 3 of 4 on the road, 2 against teams just behind them in the standings and 2 against a Columbus team they are trying to catch. As luck would have it, Columbus gets extra rest as they don’t have a game before they host the Union and they don’t have anyone at the gold cup. (MLS schedule is a piece of SHIT for having games where there is such an uneven rest period.)

  6. I’d crank Elliott up a point. John McCarthy wasn’t the only reason the game was scoreless after the first half.

    • Mike Servedio says:

      I went back and forth on Elliott. Thought he was far and away the best defender during the onslaught in the first half. Ended up knocking him a point just because he got beat for the goal. I wouldn’t argue a 7 though.

  7. I must repeat myself: If Gaddis really is better than Rosenberry,Bench them both. There is a wealth of quality cb’s and-d mids that don’t play. move one to rt. back.

    • You don’t have to ask that question, you are smarter than that. There is no doubt Rosenberry is better. Rosenberry didn’t play every minute of last year, and get second in ROY, because he is bad or because Gaddis was injured all year.

      Curtin is playing Gaddis because Rosenberry is in bad form and Gaddis at the very least provides consistent, stay at home defending (usually).

      I strongly disagree with this move, and think it’s more important to get Rosenberry back on track and get him on the field.

  8. How does a #10 who, “Despite playing for over 30 minutes in the central midfield, the Dutchman only attempted six passes” get a 7 rating?

    • Mike Servedio says:

      Union created three decent chances on the night, he set one up and then scored. Simple as that for me.

      • scottymac says:

        It’s tough for him to have more passes when the team turns the ball over like it’s their job. No possession = no passes.

  9. Section 114 (Former) says:

    How does Simpson get a 5? Overscore.

  10. Section 114 (Former) says:

    We need more discussion of the scrum after the PK call. It was a pretty clear call. Got out of control. Feilhaber should have been slapped. Ellia should have been red carded and the ref was looking right at it. And we saw a months’ old highlight. Very, very weird. Can’t wait for the Disciplinary Committee review.

  11. Jones should be a 3. Gave the ball away consistently and killed any momentum that could have been generated in the first half.

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