Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Five days after a narrow defeat, Coach Jim Curtin made three changes to the starting lineup and beat the same opponent with an authoritative 3-0 home win. Partially that’s due to to some sloppy play on Columbus’ part, and part of it is a result of a roster built for depth not being as deep as would be ideal. But a big part of it is several players improving their performances and learning from the mistakes they made last week in Ohio.

Player ratings 

John McCarthy — 6

Clean sheets get good grades, and McCarthy secured another clean sheet on Wednesday night. There were a few instances where he was lucky to get away with something, but since the ball stayed out of the net it’s nothing to worry about. That’s two good performances in a row, which should be some comfort as we wait for news about Andre Blake’s Gold Cup injury.

Ray Gaddis — 5

Another quiet game from Gaddis. He allowed the Columbus offense too much space on several situations and continues to be relatively quiet on the offensive side of the ball. But no one incident stood out as a great mistake, just as nothing really impressed either.

Jack Elliott — 6

In his first rookie mistake in a long while, miscommunication with McCarthy in the second minute lead to a very dangerous bout of ball-watching. But lucky for him (and McCarthy) it was quickly snuffed out. After that, Elliott was back to his surprisingly mature performance standard. He used his height to great advantage, clearing the air of any long pass that came near him, and he shows surprising skill and confidence with his feet for a player so young and so tall.

Oguchi Onyewu — 5

His smash-mouth physicality can be surprisingly refreshing, but if he isn’t careful it’s going to cost him sooner or later. His heavy impact on Artur in the 58th minute wasn’t called a foul, but there’s plenty of games where it would have resulted in a free kick in a part of the field where you really don’t want to give away free kicks.

Giliano Wijnaldum — 4

It’s surprising how unpolished a European academy product can be, especially when you realize that his brother and half brother are Premier League players. He got into an off-camera shoving match with Justin Meram, was caught flat footed in the 26th minute during Columbus’ most dangerous attempt on goal, and gave away a needless foul in the 30th when he hooked his arm around a Crew player he had already beaten. There’s definite potential here, but it’s kind of confusing that it’s just so raw.

Alejandro Bedoya — 6

It was a busy night for Bedoya, but he rose to the occasion. Whether it was putting out fires on defense, or providing  the connecting pass on offense, the captain always seemed to be where he was needed and moving the team forward.

Haris Medunjanin — 5

Medunjanin was much more effective this game, spreading out play and contributing to what will likely be some very tired legs for Columbus on Saturday in Utah. He didn’t seem as keen to make the massive long passes that impressed so much earlier this season, but that could simply be because there have been more effective options for him closer at hand.

Ilsinho — 6

It was a good goal, and since it happened before the Union scored two more and the Crew lost two men, it meant more at the time. It’s kind of surprising that such a not-particularly-fast player managed to be that wide open in front of goal, but he saw an opportunity and he took it.

Roland Alberg — 4

If you’re going to cut a player, any player, in line for a penalty kick you better made sure it ends up in the back of the net. Especially when that player is a fairly accomplished PK taker themselves. Pair that with an otherwise unremarkable night and the ratings are going to suffer.

Marcus Epps — 5

As exciting as his first goal was, there’s still a lot of growing left for Marcus Epps to do. Facing MLS-grade opposition, he needs to be more protective of the ball when he has it. With that said, he was working for the whole time he was in the game, and he managed to put himself in position to take advantage of several rebounds and missed crosses.

C.J. Sapong — 7

He was involved in all three goals, and would have earned the PK for a fourth were it not for a huge save by Zack Steffen. He fought hard all game long and was rewarded with breaking his personal goal scoring record for the season with thirteen games left to play.


Adam Najem (on at 67′ for Alberg) — 5

Unusually for an American player, his technique seems to be coming along nicely, but he doesn’t appear to have anywhere to go with it. If he’s to be the future of central midfield, he needs to find a way to contribute more offensively.

Jay Simpson (On at 83′ for Ilsinho) — 5

On Saturday, the Union made defensive subs while down a goal, now Jim Curtin makes offensive ones when they’re up 3-0. Okay.

Charlie Davies (on at 87′ for Epps) — N/A

Too short of a shift to really say anything about Davies’ play. But hopefully these appearances indicate his health is returning and he’ll be back to contributing form soon.

Geiger Counter

Ismail Elfath — 5

It’s easy to like an official who gives the home team a two-man advantage, but it really seems like he made the calls he needed to make and stayed quiet when he didn’t. What more could you ask for?

Player of the Game

C.J. Sapong

For every cross into the box that turns into an assist there’s many, many more that turn into nothing. So the level of effort and commitment required to try something like a bicycle assist, like the one Sapong threw for Ilsinho’s goal, shows an absurd amount of hustle.


  1. I’m surprised Wijnaldum is being scored so low, when compared to Fabinho I still feel very comfortable with him at LB. Like despit issues Wijnaldum still always looks in control out there and never is caught 20 yards upfield like Fabhino usually would be.

    • He is constantly too far away from players on the ball and gives up easy crosses too often. He also seems a little too restrained on offense, kinda holding up runs instead of attacking, but that’s an issue with the whole team I think. I think we have something here though.
      Kinda crazy that the D is all ranked so low for a clean sheet though.

  2. I feel like we must have watched different games. Gaddis should be no more than a 3 at best. He was caught out multiple times by simple passes and was his usual negative self in possession. If he continues to start our right side is a glaring hole of pass to ray and look for the back or square pass.
    On the other side you have epps at least one if not two points low. He was a danger man all night and was one of the few guys consistently getting into dangerous positions. Not content to just cross the ball he was also taking on and beating defenders one on one all night.
    Also think Haris is at least a 6. His ball set alberg free to lead to the pk and red and he controlled the midfield passing game the rest of the night.

    • His treatment of Rosenberry mind boggles me. I understand giving him a time to reflect. But the dude was a serious ROY contender and stabilized RB all last season. Does that count for nothing?

      Curtin isn’t even rotating him back in or TRYING to get him back on the right track.

      • Not sure why Rosenberry isn’t playing all the time on Steel if he’s not starting for the Union. Dude needs games to get back in form. Our attack is so much more dynamic with him in there.

      • I guess Curtin thinks Gaddis is the future at RB.


        Not sure why Rosenberry doesn’t get time with Steel to work out whatever issues. Burying the a player on the bench is the hallmark of a bad coach…

    • Epps finally did what I have wanted our wide players to do. Take on people and either cut inside for a shot or take it hard to the endline (somewhat close to goal) and have a short cross back (the only acceptable cross in my book).

    • I have to agree that Gaddis is too high. He was burned all night on his side of the pitch, constantly running to catch someone running ahead of him.

  3. McCarthy was only marginally responsible for the clean sheet, see Elliot, the post, and Columbus’ ineptitude. If Blake is out for any length of time we are in trouble, McCarthy is NOT the answer for more than a game here and there. Need to add a serviceable #2 or Blake’s replacement since he may not be here much longer.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      McCarthy is a serviceable #2. He’s given up 4 goals in 4 games, including at least one that he really had no chance when Yaro deflected it. None of the goals were howlers. Yes, his defense bailed him out sometimes, but that happens with Blake as well.

      • Yeah, I feel pretty good about McCarthy now. He can play at this level. His distribution was miles better than Blake’s too.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I agree that McCarthy has improved and show he is a capable #2. We’ll need him for the next few weeks and I feel much better about him now than I did at the start of the season

      • santo bevacqua says:

        i like Mccarthy guile and distribution of play much better then Blake….when john goes out of the goal he hauls the ball.

    • First of all the furthest Blake will go is somewhere in the MLS. Euro coaches have their fill of very good young goalies with better technique . When he starts losing his reaction time and speed with age he will not be the unbelievable goalie anymore. He relies on his natural abilities which I’m sure he works on since I’ve watched a few workouts . He cheats on the technical aspects that will pay dividends when he gets older. McCarthy has improved in the past few years. He is more than capable as a second behind Blake. He could possibly be a #1 on some other teams if he continues to improve . We are lucky to have the two of them. I would hope they would pay Blake a bit more and push that he makes some technical changes.

  4. I think these ratings are too low for a game in which we really dominated, even before the first red card. Onyewu and Epps especially deserve higher, and a 4 for Wijnaldum is harsh. Elliot is hard to grade for this game, since he made some real mistakes and then some spectacular plays, but I guess a 6 is about right. Sapong probably deserves an 8 for being responsible for 4 goals in a match when the team only scored 3. I mean, an assist on a bicycle kick?!?!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Thanks for saving me the trouble of saying the same thing. A 3-0 win and only one player gets above a 6? Average score is 5.4 among the starters. Maybe if the Union were playing a USL team that would make sense, but not last night.

    • Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

      I agree that Sapong’s score was low but I can see the low scores overall, even for a 3-0 win. The U should have won this game 6-0. They blew numerous opportunities including the PK. They dominated early last week too and look how that turned out. I’m glad for the win but this team is not good and I’m hard pressed to find optimism unless they’re going to be facing 9 men in the rest of their matches.

  5. I acknowledge that I am on a one note rant here, but Alberg should be a negative score and not at all a positive on this review. Starting battles with teammates? Check. Bitching at the ref incessantly? Check. Blasting unnecessary long shots into the stands? Check. Refusing to pass the ball to the wings, or continue crossing combinations? Check. That is even before we get to meaningless and limited defensive efforts and, of course, missing the PK that he fought Sapong to take. A number of years ago, Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer, both of Newcastle United, fought each other on the field. It seems to me that the young Alberg thought that was a lesson in team dynamics to imitate, not avoid.

    • I think the biggest statement about Alberg is how much Najem demanded the ball as soon as he came in. Yes his first touch let him down the first 3 or 4 times and yes he came in while we were up a man and fresh, but he moves into spaces to get the ball and helps connect the whole team which we have been sorely missing.

    • AMEN. I am so tired of Alberg’s petulant child act. Move on dude.

  6. Really need a rating for the true MOM – “Crossbar”

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    I disagree with Elfath’s rating. It mostly worked in the Union’s favor, but he lost control of the game. Bedoya probably should have had a yellow early on (which would have meant a suspension on Saturday), there should have been a hands to the face card when Ilsinho went down the first time, and probably should have been cards all around when there was a confrontation between Sapong, Alberg, and a couple of Crew defenders off the ball.

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    I would like to state for the record here and now… I recognize giving Alejandro Bedoya a hard time when the manager was fucking with him— but since having been put into a more proper position— he is a consistent 7.5 to 8 type player week in and week out.
    How he is getting 6’s is beyond me…the guy is everywhere everygame destroying and linking play. Without him this team is absolutely RUDDERLESS.

  9. santo bevacqua says:

    as far as gaddis he is better then rosenberry,,,,,,,,gaddis more seasoned and does not give the ball away as much as rosenberry.
    the coach uses him as sub is better then demoting him to steel, that would not help him one bit.

  10. Did anyone notice the account of the Alberg-Sapong PK dispute in the print edition of today’s Inquirer?
    According to the reporter, Julia Poe: “Before the game, Roland Alberg had been selected to take any penalty kicks that might occur. But in the moment, Sapong asked to take it, and the two quickly began yelling at each other. When Alejandro Bedoya told Sapong to stick to the plan, he ran over to the bench to protest, shouting his frustrations until Haris Medunjanin hauled him away.”
    If this report is accurate, then it appears that Alberg had every right to grab the ball for that PK.

    • Much as I detest Alberg, I am not assigning him sole blame for that tiff. As far as I’m concerned, that’s for the captain to settle, and he settled it, so clearly Alberg can’t have been completely in the wrong there.

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