Player ratings

Player ratings: New England Revolution 3-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Mikey Reeves

Faced with another critical six-point game versus a fellow lower-table Eastern Conference foe, Philadelphia Union came out flat-footed and languid against New England Revolution. Lacking any offensive ideas, the Union’s tactics looked like they were finger-painted by a toddler. Again and again, Philadelphia’s midfield was overwhelmed, while the Union’s fullbacks were burnt, easily breaking open the team’s shape and devolving the game into a rhythmless affair punctuated by several near-miss fast breaks by the Revs.

Nobody comes out of this one smelling particularly rosy, and, as the Union continue to slide down the table, the rest of the season may be more about players making sure they have a job next season.

It’s not just that the Union lost; it’s how lost they looked on the field.

Player ratings: 

John McCarthy — 5

McCarthy was not at fault for any of the three goals scored and did well to prevent the game from going completely out of control early. With Andre Blake out for at least one more match, McCarthy continues to look wiser and more confident as he fills the inimitable Jamaican’s very big shoes.

Ray Gaddis — 3

Ray’s gonna Ray. Average defensive work and tepid offensive pushes. New England was content to give Gaddis room on the right and cut off his options upfield. He certainly didn’t do anything to make them regret their decision. Absolutely manhandled by Juan Agudelo on the final goal.

Jack Elliott — 6

Constantly putting out fires that were not his, Elliott made clearance after clearance to keep the ball out of dangerous areas. Paired with Oguchi Onyewu, Elliott’s lack of speed continues to be his weakness as defenses look to play behind him, and it almost resulted in a few goals Saturday.

Oguchi Onyewu — 4

Constantly forced to cover wide (see below), Gooch did his best to anchor a defense dealing with a barrage of unimpeded runs spurred by New England’s creative midfielders and imposing forwards. Gooch was unlucky not to score off a corner in the first half but was culpable for losing Kei Kamara on the second goal.

Giliano Wijnaldum — 3

After a promising start, Wijnaldum’s star has certainly waned since the international break. His habit of giving defenders too much space has been forgiven for his solid, albeit banal, time on the ball. On Saturday, Gili pushed higher than usual – itself a good idea – but gave away a boatload of turnovers in the offensive half. When the Revs repossessed the ball, they took the space Wijnaldum vacated, forcing Elliott or Onyewu to help out wide, and leaving the middle of the field ripe for dangerous plays. Was drawn way (like, way) out of position several other times.

Haris Medunjanin — 5

It’s amazing that Haris isn’t more frustrated with his surrounding cast. All night, Medunjanin had no help around him and no one making runs downfield. The lack of support from a certain attacking midfielder meant that Haris had to push the ball higher himself, which is neither his forte nor his role, and it left the team exposed to counterattacks when possession was inevitably lost. His precision was lacking on corner kicks.

Alejandro Bedoya — 4

As hard as Bedoya works, he looked a step behind this game. Instead of helping dictate play, he was chasing the ball all night. After seeing his full potential on display with the national team at the Gold Cup, it’s not difficult to assert that Bedoya’s lack of production in Union blue may be more about who else is on the field than his own shortcomings.

Roland Alberg — 3

After Nick Fishman’s rather compelling case in defense of Roland Alberg’s unheralded contributions to the club, the Dutchman was granted a start on the road and straight failed to show up. He had the fewest touches (28) of any field player in the game (for a while there, I completely forgot he was on the pitch) and was little help in slowing the game down to help the Union actually build a cogent attack. Intermittent finishing and objectively impressive stats aside, Alberg’s inconsistency and lack of influence on the Union’s woeful offense remains maddening. His mostly absent defense left Bedoya and Medunjanin with a ridiculous workload they simply could not handle.

Chris Pontius — 4

Not the type of performance you expect from a veteran MLSer and freshly-capped national team player on his return to the club. Pontius has always been the type of player who comes out of nowhere to make an impact, but games like Saturday make you wish he could really have a stronger presence on the field and help the Union manage the game as it slipped out of their grasp. Pontius began to assert himself more in the second half by drifting to the middle of the field, but the killer pass wasn’t there.

Marcus Epps — 4

Epps made plenty of mistakes this weekend, but you know what, at least he tried to take on defenders, provide width, and take chances at goal. Hopefully, the decision-making will come.

C.J. Sapong — 5

The Revs had a pretty solid game plan for the Union: Put Medunjanin on an island and make C.J. Sapong’s life miserable. It worked perfectly. Sapong had to fight for every ball, was swarmed in possession, and completely shadowed in the box – not that he had any service coming his way.


Fafa Picault (60′ for Marcus Epps) — 6

An instant upgrade on the left wing, Picault found himself in dangerous areas a few times and even put two shots on target – astonishingly good enough for most for the Union on the night – but, like the rest of the team, was forced to backpedal on defense rather than pry open the Revs stodgy defense.

Ilsinho (60′ for Roland Alberg) — 4

Much like Alberg, Ilsinho couldn’t find enough of the ball. While the Brazilian did find himself in some dangerous areas, he failed to turn it into any meaningful chances.

Jay Simpson (84′ for Chris Pontius) — N/A

Had a few close opportunities at the end, but the late goals all but killed the Union’s impetus to pull back a point late.

Geiger Counter

Ismail Elfath — 4

Super inconsistent all night. Let some hard fouls go on both sides and carded others. Thankfully, did enough to not let the game get out of control.

Player of the Game

Jack Elliott

Yes, Jim, he should probably be Rookie of the Year, but it’d be nice if he didn’t have to prove it with 20 clearances every week.


  1. We suck anyway, but teams have once again figured out or gameplan and Curtin is doing nothing to stop it.

  2. Reading that correct analysis of Medunjanin and Bedoya and the lack of options, how much longer until we see Haris give the infamous Nogeira 2-handed shrug when he has no one to pass to?

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Dear Jim and erstwhile Union fiduciaries.
    “You always need a triangle. Then you constantly have two possible ways to play the ball.”

    Johan Cruyff

  4. Who among us thinks Curtin has the wherewithal to figure out the way out of this situation?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I don’t think Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho has the wherewithal to figure a way out of this situation. Why should Curtin (or any MLS manager) be expected to do that?

    • The team simply isn’t talented enough to win against the majority of the MLS. That’s on Stewart

      • I don’t know if it’s all on Stewart. Sugarman essentially tasked him to find a couple Ferraris…and gave him $20 and a pack of cigarettes as a budget.

      • Good point. Sugarman needs to stop being so damn cheap

      • So to Be clear, all Sugarmans fault? Not Jim or ES, correct? So no change (that’s possible) is needed? Just grin and bear it

  5. We needed at least 6-7 points out of these four games and came away with 3. Anyone hear of any transfer rumors?

    • Can we transfer an owner? Heck, I’d be up for a coaching transfer. There’s gotta be a couple high school coaches looking for a pay raise

  6. I find it hard to put the majority of the blame on Curtin. He isn’t a transcendent coach that can win with a weak roster, but that’s exactly the problem. On paper it may be the deepest roster we have ever had but compared to the rest of the league it is one of the least talented teams. Stewart has done some good things but he absolutely needs to do more to catch up with the rest of the league asap.

    • “He would do better with better players” isn’t exactly a shining endorsement…

      Exactly what has Curtin shown you that makes you WANT to keep him? Yes, our talent is average at best. That doesn’t mean a coach can’t squeeze out a couple wins, or play to our strengths, or come up with a system that maximizes the team.

      Curtin has done NOTHING of the sort.

      • If we get rid of him, I’d be worried that they would just replace him with a similiar new coach with even less experience.

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    These ratings are a joke aren’t they? The team lost 3-0 and it really wasn’t even that close. Anyone not named McCarthy or Elliott should be no higher than a 3 in my opinion.

    • We overrate CJ: “Sapong had to fight for every ball, was swarmed in possession, and completely shadowed in the box”

      Seriously? He get’s a 5 for “trying hard”??????

      I understand that’s how Curtin wants to play, but it’s bad. It’s the wrong way to play. Strikers are supposed to be goal scoring threats and dangerous around that box.

      But with CJ we are stuck going in MLS1.0

      • He’s appears to be the only guy actively trying to get into a position where he can link the back to the front in half of all of the team’s possession. He’s playing the 9 and the 10 most of the time, too, on both sides of the ball, and still finding a way to be in the right spot for the “dirty” goals that come from not giving up on plays. He’s certainly not perfect, nor the best striker in the league, but give me a guy who’s laying it all out there all day over a guy like Alberg.

  8. CJ’s doing what Curtin tells him to do; there’s no 10 to get CJ the ball on ground, so CJ can’t show his attacking or scoring prowess. A different owner won’t help: the Union is right smack in the middle of MLS total salary. Would one more DP help, sure! But Earnie and Curtin have admitted that Sugarman has never turned down a request. The problem is that Earnie is a horrendous judge of talent appropriate for an MLS side (Simpson is getting paid $500,000 for goodness sakes) and Curtin can’t coach tactics or formations appropriate to the mediocre players Earnie has given him.

    • ES have brought in plenty of players that are goo and help us. It’s just the lack of a 10 is so glaring and that overwrites everything.

      • Stewart brought in players, yes. Harris is good. Beyond him, the international transfers have just been awful failure after even worse awful failure.

    • Apologetics. The ownership is cheap otherwise we would have all three DP slots filled. Even the DP salaries that the U has are low. Good for you that the Union can spend allocation money as middling as any other team. Who cares that they spend about the same as tiny Columbus?

  9. The Truth says:

    CJ putting in hard shifts to boost his own career stats. He knows this squad has no shot this season. Good for him.

  10. Trying to logically map out Big Ern and Curtin’s thought process and my nose just starts to bleed.

    The reason why the US Civil War was so bloody was because the Tactics didn’t match the technology. You do not need to stand and shoot in columns when you have rifled barrels which shoot straighter and farther. Hence a literal “wall of lead” hitting every target without mercy…..this repeats again in WWI where superior weapons didn’t match tactics and again you get killing fields. It took 4 years before the creeping barrage and combined arms tactics finally impacted the war but by then everyone was pretty much crushed morally.

    Exempli Gratia – The Union tactics do not match the weapons they have, which makes their continued use futile. There is no adaptation, no third level thinking, it’s just “we are playing this formation and fuck the results because we want continuity and stability.” However, if you have ill fitted weaponry than you must play to your strengths. This team cannot possess the ball worth a shit, and for Big Ern coming from the Dutch league I would figure this would be a HUGE ISSUE for him to swallow down. EVERY YEAR has felt like a total rebuild and the league is only getting stronger, and without the right leadership, dedicated spending, and the correct scouting network the Union will be basement dwellers until the League steps in like CHIVAS and Philadelphia Union no longer exists. Which to be honest, would it matter with the squalid displays we have all been subjugated to over these years.

    “Everyday is Like Sunday, Silent and Grey.”

  11. Sincere question
    We rate pretty much everyone including the ref. Why don’t these ratings ever rate the coaching staff?
    Like game plan, adjustments to other team, subbing, trick plays, attacking other team’s weaknesses, surprises in strategy etc?
    We could call it Team Ratings

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