Player ratings

Player ratings: Montreal Impact 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

The Union came up short in a continental clash with Montreal.

Neither side looked deserving of a win, but it was the Impact who earned the 2-1 victory at Stade Saputo. It was a stagnant affair demonstrating why both teams currently sit on the outside of the playoff picture.

While the Canadian club controlled possession, it didn’t translate into an abundance of scoring chances. When chances came, though, Montreal capitalized. Both goals came through just enough individual skill to exploit poor Union defending.

If not for Montreal’s own sloppy play, the visitors would have struggled to score. The Impact consistently turned the ball over in dangerous areas. Philadelphia, however, couldn’t seem to string any passes together, beat defenders on the dribble, or threaten in any concrete way. Chris Duvall’s errant back pass was the Union’s best pass of the night.

Without further commentary on the team’s play, let’s start the commentary of the individuals.

Player ratings

John McCarthy – 6

What could McCarthy do on either of Montreal’s goals? It was a quiet night for the keeper, where he raked in two saves. Moments before the game-winning goal, he did well to come off his line and deny Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla. His best moment may have come in the first half. A long throw forward put Fafà Picault in a one-man-to-beat opportunity down the right flank.

Raymon Gaddis – 6

Gaddis had a solid if not stellar match. His primary role is always to defend, and he did well against Tabla. He also made a few overlapping runs to open space and had two keys passes in the final third.

Jack Elliott – 5

If not for a bit of ball watching on Blerim Dzemaili’s goal, Elliott would have earned higher marks. The Brit did well on Matteo Mancosu and provided his calm distribution from the back.

Oguchi Onyewu –4

Michael Salazar appeared to be Onyewu’s man on Montreal’s opening goal, as the winger drifted behind the centerback. While it wasn’t a bad game for the veteran, he was not the dominant central presence he can be.

Giliano Wijnaldum –3

It was a rough match for the Dutch left back. Wijnaldum had his worst game in a Union uniform, and it’s not close. Yes, he was often isolated with Picault playing high upfield, but Wijnaldum was responsible for both of the Impact’s goals. He gave Duvall way too much time and space to deliver a deadly cross into the box. In the second half, Dzemaili beat the defender off the dribble, nutmegging him before scoring.  The Union are hoping that this is a momentary setback for the young defender.

Warren Creavalle – 6

Warren Creavalle quietly had good game filling in for Alejandro Bedoya and Derrick Jones. The midfielder upheld his defensive duties with four interceptions and eight recoveries. He even added something going forward, completing passes and stepping into the attacking build-up when necessary.

Haris Medunjanin — 4

The Bosnian just couldn’t find a way to influence this game. His passing was accurate but not incisive. Defensively, he couldn’t quite time his challenges and got beat trying to step up on a few occasions. As the match progressed, Medunjanin drifted further upfield, but it left space for the Impact on the counter.

Roland Alberg – 4

Twenty-five touches. That’s it for the Union’s No. 10. Roland Alberg’s game is a maddening one. Philadelphia desperately needed the midfielder to influence the game from the center. Grabbing control was vital considering the team couldn’t maintain possession for large stretches of the match. He has the vision and skill to distribute, as seen by his 91.7% passing, but Alberg needs to find more of the ball. He couldn’t build on some solid performances leading into this game, but almost saved the Union again. What a volley that was on the disallowed goal.

Ilsinho –2

Ilsinho was the worst player on the field Wednesday evening. The ball found its way to the Brazilian consistently on potential counters after Montreal turnovers. He couldn’t pick out a pass. He couldn’t beat a defender on the dribble. He just couldn’t make the right decision with the ball. Ilsinho has the skill, but like Alberg, his inconsistency makes it impossible to trust him game after game.

Fafà Picault –7

Picault collected a great pass from Duvall to score the Union’s lone goal. It was a composed finish which ended some recent difficulty in the final third. His speed changes games. Even when he didn’t intercept a pass with his high pressure, it forced Montreal into turnovers. Picault was the lone Union starter who had a positive influence in the final third.

C.J. Sapong –4

The striker couldn’t find the dangerous areas of the field. Sapong often collected the ball too far from goal and couldn’t find the right angle for a pass or run with the ball at his feet.  There needs to be a better connection with the forward and his teammates.


Marcus Epps (57′ for Ilsinho) –4

Epps had a nice run of play coming in for the ineffectual Ilsinho. The winger had some moments with the ball at his feet in the final third, but he struggled to make a real impact. More experience should help craft his game.

Jay Simpson (67′ for Picault) — 6

Put me on the side that thinks Simpson gets some unfair criticism. He made an instant impact entering the game, providing a scoring threat in the center of the pitch. He made a beautiful turn in the 70th minute to create a dangerous opportunity. Simpson should get at least one start during this compacted stretch of games. He has the skill. The finish should come.

Adam Najem (79′ for Creavalle) –N/A

Najem came into the match with the Union searching for an equalizer. He showed some flashes, but there wasn’t enough time to really make a mark.

Geiger counter

Alan Kelly – 6

Kelly had a nice game in a chippy contest. There were a lot of yellows, and all were warranted. Was I the only one holding my breath when Alberg scissored a player for his caution?

Player of the game

Blerim Dzemaili

Attention Philadelphia: This this the type of player that qualifies as a No. 10. His 57 touches were over twice that of Alberg. Dzemaili was the creative hub of the Montreal attack. The Swiss international now has four goals and four assists in eight games. Forgive me in advance, but that’s quite the “impact.”


  1. “His primary role is always to defend, and he did well against Tabla. ”

    I wish we had higher expectations for our RB in 2017.

    And has anyone thought maybe the disaster that is his offensive game actually actively HURTS us?

    Maybe the fact that his side is unable to provide any offensive threat whatsoever allows the other team to easily exploit his weaknesses, and thus makes it easier on them?

    Perhaps it’s time to realize maybe Gaddis can be a net negative overall because his offensive game is so bad.

    • Nick Fishman says:

      Gaddis was not the issue going forward. Ilsinho could have played the ball to his feet on a few of those overlapping runs, but chose to try and win 1v1 battles too often.

      Dynamic fullbacks are always better, but defensive responsibility is not a bad trait.

      Is Gaddis playing at higher level than 2016 Rosenberry? No. He is definitely playing better than the 2017 version, though.

  2. I did not watch this match, but I said beforehand that putting Alberg at the #10 would almost certainly be a huge mistake, and based upon the match description, it sounds as though I was correct. The statement that ‘He has the vision and skill to distribute’ is way off base. He is hardly ever involved in build-up play, and he has no interest in running an offense, nor in getting teammates involved. Having him in the 10 spot is like having a false 9, except that we then have no #10, and boy does it show. I say this over and over again, but stop playing Alberg there. Certainly don’t have him start a match there, for God’s sake! I’m hearing that Najem looked pretty decent in this game. He should be given a run in that position if we don’t want Ilsinho there (and a new signing is not forthcoming).

    • The thing is, this:

      “The statement that ‘He has the vision and skill to distribute’ is way off base.”

      can STILL be true even while saying this:

      “He is hardly ever involved in build-up play, and he has no interest in running an offense, nor in getting teammates involved. ”

      Clearly he is not a 10. In fact, Curtins insistence on playing him there is as bad as playing Bedoya there instead of the 8. Based on his skillset, I would love to see Alberg start at striker (then again I’d love to see Simpson start there too).

      And if Alberg starts at striker, I think he does have the skill and vision to distribute. While scoring goals.

      • Sorry I’m very late getting back to you, but Alberg might indeed start at striker… for a team that plays with two strikers. There is no way he can play up top solo. He needs someone else to play off of, take the CB’s attention, make some diagonal runs, etc. Alberg might then play poacher very effectively, or else back up 15 yards and hit some punishing shots from out there if the CBs don’t follow him. But he does not fit our system whatsoever.

  3. “Was I the only one holding my breath when Alberg scissored a player for his caution?”
    Nope. Expect that one to make Instant Replay. Also, about two minutes before that, Alberg tried a studs-up two-footed slide on a different MTL player, and came up about a foot short. He looked like he was playing for a red card for a while there.

  4. I could do without Alberg’s blatant diving too.

  5. Alberg and Gaddis are way too high. Gaddis should be a 5 at best. Look at his passing chart, it’s pathetic. Alberg and Ilsinho are such lazy selfish players that they never move for each other. I’d start Epps and Najem over them next game. They are subs at best.

    • It’s amazing how perfect a like for like switch it is to replace Alberg with Najem and Illsinho with Epps.

      Those two guys should be the starters for the rest of the season, imo.

      • Yup. I’m fine with Pontius starting too, but Epps should be a super-sub most games and get spot (or more) starts.

  6. You are very generous, imo. They played an awful team, and found a way to be even more awful.

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