Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Columbus Crew 1 – 0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Injuries and suspensions forced Jim Curtin’s hand going into this Saturday matchup. That could have been okay, as defense-focused play on the road almost lead to a perfectly acceptable draw. Unfortunately, disorganized play and absolutely no ability to adapt with players from the bench meant that as soon as Columbus scored it was clear the match was over. This isn’t entirely Curtin’s fault. While some players stepped up to the opportunity presented to them, more than a few failed to meet their own potential.

Reminder: Players are rated with 5 representing an “average” performance, and points are added or subtracted from there.

Player ratings

John McCarthy — 7

As much credit as the over-preforming back line gets for the Union’s defensive strength, the keepers are very much a part of that success as well. Even if you somehow think McCarthy isn’t ready to get the full-time starting job if/when Blake moves on to bigger and better things, there’s no denying that having a keeper of this caliber as a backup is a luxury most teams wish they could have.

Raymon Gaddis — 5

A quiet game from Ray with few standout moments, good or bad. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the lack of tangible positives does make fans itchy for Keegan Rosenberry to return to the spectacular form he showed last year.

Josh Yaro — 4

The boxscore credits Columbus’ lone point to Justin Meram, but there’s no way of interpreting what happened as anything other than an own goal, which is a shame because Yaro had a good game otherwise. He shut down several dangerous crosses and kept the Crew from ever really getting comfortable in front of the Union goal.

Jack Elliott — 6

Simply put, a rookie shouldn’t be playing with this level of maturity. It’s not natural. Maybe he could have avoided the foul that saw him carded in the 68th minute, but the foul was certainly better than letting Ola Kamara go into the box unchallenged.

Giliano Wijnaldum — 5

An okay game by the Dutchman in which he predicted and defused attacks by the Crew more than a couple times. With that said, it still feels like there should be more to his game, even if he was brought in to be a long-term project rather than an immediate difference maker.

Haris Medunjanin — 4

Medunjanin’s long connecting passes and ability to switch the avenue of attack was something the Union was sorely missing this game. Whether it’s because the Crew did a good job marking him out or because positional chaos further upfield kept him from having confidence in his targets on the offensive side of the field, Medunjanin struggled.

Alejandro Bedoya — 5

Bedoya was all over this game, getting into positions that helped break up Crew possession very well, which was key for keeping the Union on the ball early in the game. But for all that disruption, the only consistent result was that it gave his teammates time to get back into their bunkers, which is fine occasionally, but it can’t be the strategy for an entire game.

Marcus Epps — 4

There were sparks of potential in Epps’s play, especially in his impressive speed when he needed it, but every time he made a great play, it appeared there was no plan for what was supposed to happen next. His “shot” in the 22nd minute, the Union’s only shot on goal in the first half, seems like it might have been intended to be a cross to Jay Simpson. Instead, it rolled harmlessly into the waiting arms of Zack Steffen

Adam Najem — 5

A central attacking midfielder playing in midfield – what a concept! He showed good situational awareness throughout the game, regularly picking out passes that should have set teammates up to seriously advance the game. However his youth still shines through, as more than a few times the pass was too hard or too soft. More experienced players had to bail him out more than once. There’s unquestionable potential here, but there’s also no question that he’s still got some work to do before he can become a regular MLS starter.

Ilsinho — 3

Be suspicious of anyone who claims to know what position Ilsinho was playing on Saturday night, including Ilsinho himself. Maybe his time playing as a false 10 has broken his otherwise acceptable positional discipline, but at some point during the game he played left, right, and central midfield. It’s one thing when this is a tactical decision to shuffle the opposing defense, but that requires a player with a bit more mobility than the Brazilian brings to the table.

Jay Simpson — 4

This one isn’t really Simpson’s fault. He showed a lot of effort out there, and there’s no reason to doubt his commitment or desire to play well. But he simply doesn’t fit the style of play this team insists on trying every single week. His skill as a target forward makes him uniquely unsuited for the physicality and hold up play the Union offense relies on.


Charlie Davies (69′ for Ilsinho) — 4

As the sole offensive substitution on the bench, there could be no doubt that this was Charlie’s time to shine when the Crew went up late in the second half. But even with a respectable twenty minutes to work with, he failed to shine.

Fabinho (75′ for Wijnaldum) — 5

Considering Wijnaldum’s acceptable performance this seemed like an odd choice to make, but he very quickly justified Jim Curtin’s decision with a very clean tackle to shut down a potentially dangerous attack by Ola Kamara

Warren Creavalle (81′ for Epps) — 5

By freeing up Alejandro Bedoya to play further forward, this managed to be an offensive substitution even though Creavalle himself is a defensive player. But with under ten minutes left to play it was too little too late.

Geiger Counter

Silviu Petrescu — 4

Overall, he did a good job keeping the game under control without getting card-happy, but time management mars his performance a bit. Maybe this is home-team bias, but the decision to end the first half after the Union had won a corner but before they could take it feels like an unnatural impact on the play of the game.

Player of the Game

John McCarthy

While he may not have the acrobatics of Andre Blake, McCarthy still shows spectacular shot stopping abilities. There’s even indication of improved distribution and positioning for the Philadelphia local.


  1. Chris Gibbons says:

    On the goal, Meram somehow snuck behind the entire Union team, waited in the corner behind GW, and then attacked the space left there for a lightly contested shot. It was ugly.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Ratings seem a bit high on the offensive side for a team that generated 0 shots on goal. Ilsinho especially seemed like a waste of a body there.
    That being said, I can’t agree with those calling for Curtin’s head because of the lack of offensive subs. Pontius, Picault, Herbers, Alberg, and Sapong were all unavailable due to circumstances beyond Curtin’s control.
    Can we also give a 1 to Tommy Smyth who spent most of the game trying to convince us that the team that hadn’t played in 2.5 weeks would tire before the one that had played on a hot, humid night three days earlier?

    • “Pontius, Picault, Herbers, Alberg, and Sapong were all unavailable due to circumstances beyond Curtin’s control.”

      Thats the problem with this team.

      If that is the list of names that is supposed to make us feel better, it doesn’t work lol.

      We look equally as inept with those names as without them.

      At best, players like Picault and Sapong are nothing more than “good.” They are good players.

      But the league is full of good players, and most teams have a couple great players (and/or coaches) to compliment the good players and make them better.

      We don’t have that.

    • Adam Schorr says:

      How about those calling for Curtin’s head because he’s just a bad coach who never should have been given the job and has never done anything to earn it?
      How about those calling for Curtin’s head, because given a tough set of circumstances, he didn’t change a goddamn thing, even throughout a game where the team mustered just 3 shots and 0 on goal?

    • Jim O'Leary says:

      To the high ratings for offense point: I graded Epps and Najem on a curve, since this was their first league start.

    • Also for suggesting that somehow getting a point would be fine as if we aren’t spiraling down the same toilet bowl year after year (commentators)

    • I wonder if Andy Muenz works for the Union. His posts are typically apologetics.

  3. Buccistick says:

    Just so’s I understand your line of thinking, Jim … you dinged Yaro a point exclusively because of the own goal despite an otherwise productive outing, as you acknowledge? It’s not clear to me that he knew too much about where that shot was heading. Or perhaps you left unstated that you found fault in Yaro for failing to close Miram down after he got past Wijnaldum, or simply for flinching …
    More to the point: in your book, is there no own goal too freakishly deflected that it would not downgrade the rating of the player involved?

  4. Najem was a liability in the game. His lack of vision, his inability to see the sequences that he must be a part of, his poor decisions bordering on panic , was one of the main reasons there were hardly any threats by the Union. In his defense, being put in a situation of utter chaos with no seemingly predetermined structure made his rookie situation untenable. Its on the coach. Its about lack of a predetermined structure to fall back on for everyone on this team.

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