Player ratings

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 2-0 New England Revolution

Photo: Dan Gajdamowicz

For the first time since 2011, Philadelphia Union won their opening game of the season. The victory was headlined by tremendous debuts from teenagers Anthony Fontana and Auston Trusty. While New England played down a man (and later two men) for nearly 70 minutes, Philadelphia was clearly the stronger team on the night and should have won by about five goals. Not everything was pretty – and the Union need to address how to play when they are bossing the match – but there is plenty to like in Chester from the young, aggressive squad still gelling for 2018.

Reminder, our ratings start from a score of “5” as an average and points are added or subtracted from there.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 7

Wasn’t asked to do much (compared to his typical workload), but came up big when necessary and his 400+ minute shutout streak against New England is incredible.

Keegan Rosenberry — 6

A vintage-ish performance by Rosenberry that reminded fans why he was one of the best right backs in the league two years ago. He was composed on the ball, aggressive and locked-in on defense, and put a lot of really nice balls into the box. Still needs to watch the turnovers.

Jack Elliott — 8

It’s pretty nice when your center back not only holds down the defense, but can hit 60 yard balls that a) draw a red card on the opposition; b) set up the Union’s second goal; and c) nearly cause a few more. It’s only Week One, but Elliott and Trusty look mighty comfortable with each other.

Auston Trusty — 8

Trusty is the real deal and already looks to be a stalwart in the Union backline for years to come. Trusty kept the talented Juan Aguedelo in his pocket most of the match. The teenager’s left foot is as advertised too. He and Elliott were nearly beat by a few Revs long balls, but Trusty’s recovery speed and tackling ability were spot on.

Fabinho — 6

Fabinho was rarely in the Union’s own half for much of the match, but was able to sniff out most of the Revs’ attacks up the right wing before they got started. A patient, veteran performance.

Haris Medunjanin — 7

A typical night for the Bosnian. Sagged at the back of the midfield and played some beautiful balls over the top to the Union’s attacking corps. The chip to Bedoya on Fontana’s goal was picture-perfect. Would like to see him put some of those free kicks on frame.

Alejandro Bedoya — 7

Really solid night from Bedoya. Was interesting to see that he actually floated higher up the pitch than Fontana (and to the right) when the Union were in possession. The skipper earned a secondary assist on the opening goal and could have had a few more if Fontana and Sapong were more clinical. His off-the-ball runs are a thing of beauty, but he needed to help in possession more when the Union got sloppy before the second goal put the game away.

Anthony Fontana — 8

Extra points for an impressive debut and one of the most authentically joyful goal celebrations in recent memory. He was solid on the ball, but needs to show more in possession to make a stronger impact on the game (especially once the Revs bunkered down after the red card). Just as impressive was the teenager’s defensive work rate. Fontana was in New England midfielders’ faces all night and didn’t make anything easy for them.

Fabian Herbers — 5

Herbers quietly had a strong night, working well with Rosenberry and Bedoya on the right side and drifting into the center of the field often. His ranking suffers for a poor turnover in the second half that nearly led to an equalizer.

David Accam — 7

The most exciting player on the field didn’t grab an assist or goal, but had the Revs defense (specifically Andrew Farrell) on their heels all night. His aggressive play, selflessness, and work rate are already paying dividends for his teammates – his stat line will be sure to follow.

C.J. Sapong — 8

Who knew “hold-up play” literally meant being held and dragged down all the time? Those sitters he missed hurt, but Sapong was massive on the whole for the Union – and not just thanks to his goal – acting as the fulcrum of the attack and tapping a really nice layoff to Fontana on the opener. The Revs had no answer for Sapong save literally tackling him.


Corey Burke (66′) — 7

More, please! Burke impressed in his Union debut and made a very strong case for more minutes. He logged an assist and drew a second yellow on Dielna in just 30 minutes. Burke plays like a hold-up winger, which may finally offer a real changeup off the bench. Burke’s vision and soccer IQ are both impressive too.

Jay Simpson (66′) — 3

I commend Jim Curtin for trying something new with Jay Simpson at the top of the midfield, but the Englishman was lost positionally and had no possession to offer when the Union needed it. He gave up the ball the first three times he touched it and is too slow for the type of defensive press the Union require at the No. 10.

Derrick Jones (85′) — 6

Jones came in late to fulfill what will likely be his season-long role as a closer. A short, calm shift, which is exactly what you want.

Geiger Counter

Rubiel Vazquez — 7

Vazquez made all the right calls. Both red cards were 100% deserved and Vazquez called a fair game that allowed players to be physical without it verging on chippy. Nice to see someone actually notice the abuse Sapong suffers every week.

Player of the Game

Jack Elliott

Gotta love the kids who put in great first-team debuts, but Jack Elliott impacted the game more than any other player on the field. He read the game well and played physical when necessary, but it was those line-breaking long balls over the top that earns this accolade. When the Revs clogged the middle of the field for the Union, it was Elliott’s passing that put the game away for good.


  1. Seeing Rosenberry was a breath of fresh air. He was overall unremarkable, but it was so nice seeing a RB play offense, be present in the final third, and exhibit the ability to pass and provide a consistent outlet.

  2. Too low on Burke and Accam. NE had no answer to either all night. Accam is a MLS stud who is already showing to be a much bigger pickup than anyone gave credit for, probably because he was an in-league pickup.
    Love that the ratings are finally back and start with a win. Get it out of the way much earlier than last year!

    • agreed. burke and accam were walking all over NE. they made it look like they were playing against children

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    A little too lenient for CJ. When your striker misses that many sitters, he doesn’t rate an 8. Fortunately, it didn’t cost the Union.

    • This. CJ this year is going to make me so mad. I totally get it, what he does in hold up play is elite and blah blah blah, defense, blah blah.

      But If I have to sit through another game where my starting striker has at least 3 horrible misses again, I’m going to go crazy.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Better that he have those misses in games the Union win anyway than when they go lose a game 1-0.

      • He scored, had an assist, drew a red AND a yellow on opposing center backs…. That stat line alone merits an 8 for a striker. Everything else is letting perfect be the enemy of great.

      • If you have to sit through another game where your starting striker misses three close shots but also has a goal and an assist and draws red and yellow cards on the opposition, you’ll be walking away with wins nine times out of ten.

      • @Dan, I am just going off history. Of course thats’ true, but we saw plenty of times last season where CJ was in a 5-6 game funk without a shot on goal, where his offensive holes contributed to a tie or loss.

      • I agree with you in general on CJ, he doesn’t have certain skills elite finishers do. But a game like this isn’t the best spot to mention them, because he did everything else SO WELL, and also scored. If he misses 3 easy ones in a couple games that we lose close, then you jump on him.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Not too often are they launched, but when a Truth Bomb hits from Dan Walsh, you feel it.

      • I do not understand the CJ hate.
        He had the highest Audi Index rating on the team. His pass percentage was higher than Trusty, Elliot, Rosenberry, Herbers, Fontana, Accam, Burke (and Simpson) – all of which should be passing better than a target forward. His press was on point, giving defenders fits.
        He had six shots. Were they all on goal, no. But he gets himself in position for chances, which is what we want. Half the time he had some thugs arm around him while trying to shoot. He should have earned a few PK’s on the night if the refs would ever pull the whistle out for him.
        Oh yeah, and all the stats that people have already mentioned.
        A goal.
        An assist. (should have been a red card had Fontana not scored)
        Earned a yellow card foul.
        Earned a rec card foul.
        Let’s have a little more respect for the first 15+ goal scorer in Union history.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        It’s not meant as hate on CJ, just a thought on how much more he could have done. After all, he only got a 9 for a hat trick last year. Given that he easily could have done that but didn’t, I would have given a 7 rather than an 8.

      • I’m coming late to this but stop crapping on C.J.. I also am getting tired of all the nit-picking. He is what he is. If the rest of MLS ref’s take a page from Vazquez and actually call fouls like they should be called, and like they have NEVER been called up till Saturday, then we will be seeing a lot more of these score lines from C.J..

      • Dan Walsh says:

        Well, he probably should have gotten a 10 for the hat trick. 😉

      • If CJ starts getting half the calls he deserves by refs (maybe the large goal total last starts giving him almost star treatment) we are going to score a lot more goals this year and get a lot of defenders on cards, which Accam, CJ, and Fafa and going to go right at them. Lets hope the refs are up to the task!

  4. 3 seems a little unfair to Simpson given that he was placed in a role he’s never played before and is completely ill-equipped for.
    I also thought Keegan looked pretty rusty, turning over possession several times and getting beat 1 v 1 on a few simple plays. A lot to like for sure – hopefully we can blame some of that on weather, etc.
    Blake’s two saves were massive. If he doesn’t make those we could easily be talking about a draw or even a loss. He’s the MVP for me.

    • Dude makes 500k a year and has consistently looked bad. Burke came on in a position that is not his primary and made an instant impact.

      • ^ Bada boom. The problem is Simpson’s wages. He isn’t a half million dollar man by any stretch of the imagination.

      • I hear you, but it’s still unfair to rate a guy because someone overpaid for him.

      • it doesn’t matter what position he plays if he can be dispossessed as easily as he was so consistently on saturday

      • While it may be unfair to rate him for being overpaid, it is fair to say he’s stunk since he’s been here and has been completely outplayed all preseason and in the first game of the season by a guy who was a USL player last year. Everyone on the team looked at least decent last night except Simpson. There’s a reason he was playing in a low league before he came here.

      • I don’t think any criticism is unfair when it comes to Simpson. The dude is bad. If Burke is any indication of how the USL plays, Simpson couldn’t even start there. For him to actually make an impact, you’d need a team who consistently gets 60% possession where he could stand 10-20 yards from goal and not hamper the rest of the club. The waste his salary is, is almost M’baddie bad. If you still think he deserves more of a shot, I have no idea what you are watching.

      • @All4U

        Yes to all of that

  5. My only criticism of Harris is that his set pieces were badly taken. Maybe it was the cold, or the wind, or the fact that the ball was probably a rock; but his corners and re-starts were consistently high and out of reach.

    But I’m nit-picking…..

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I think that most of the free kicks were in a position where they would have been more effective from a right footed kicker rather than a left. Now if only we had a right footed number 10 coming along…maybe one from the Czech Republic…

  6. For the record, after checking the 2016 and 2017 statistics available on the Bethlehem Steel FC website, not only was Anthony Fontana’s goal his first in MLS.
    It is his first ever when playing on a professional pitch, whether under an amateur contract or a professional one. He did not score for the Bethlehem Steel in either 2016 or 2017.

  7. pragmatist says:

    I get people being rough on CJ’s misses – they were painful to watch. But for the first time in his tenure, he appears to be surrounded by players who can capitalize on everything else he does. Assuming Dockal comes close to our expectations, that’s another piece. Plus, I assume Herbers will be relegated to the bench. You’ll see Fafa (who has his own finishing issues, but brings a ton to the game), Burke (who looked awesome), Fontana, Epps, etc.
    CJ will have games where he’ll flub shots. But he’s more likely to be supported by those around him. But the other parts of his game don’t go away. They are constants. So when he adds goals, we’ll be in even better shape. And you have to assume he’ll be between 12-16 this year, with the rest of the cast improving on last year’s non-CJ totals.
    The misses are frustrating, but they are mitigated by many other factors.

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    Those balls by Jack Elliot.
    Big, Balls.

  9. Burke starts over CJ by mid-season.

    • Rash Decisions Based on Fear says:

      Hot take alert^^

    • Only if Curtin is replaced by mid-season. Burke over Fafa is more likely IMO. Now when C.J.’s contract is up, I can definitely see Burke being his replacement. From here on out with the change in keeping 100% of transfer fees, things are going to get very interesting in the coming years.

      • Agree on all this especially watching the transfer fee changes, although I could see CJ resigning here too. I think he could play into his mid 30s because he’s such an athlete.

  10. Section 114 (Former) says:

    I don’t understand the fascination with “starters”.
    Except like now, when we have big schedule gaps, the critical issue is who plays all season.
    Except for our keeper, I don’t want an iron man (anecdote — it broke Keegan in 2016), I want my best players to play about three quarters of the time and our next best tier to play about 800-1500 minutes (depending on who they cover for, etcetera).
    You need this for injuries, suspensions, and to avoid injuries. And one would hope that the coaches are proactive here (and yes, Curtin won’t be).
    So, target minutes for the MLS season (and presuming the backups do the bulk of Cup work):
    CJ 2500 minutes
    Burke 900 minutes

    Bedoya 2800 minutes
    Haris 2800 minutes
    Accam 2800 minutes
    Dockal 2500 minutes
    Fafa 2000 minutes
    Jones 1200 minutes
    Fontana 1200 minutes
    Herbers 600 minutes
    Najem 500 minutes
    Ayuk 500 minutes
    Epps 400 minutes

    Keegan 2400 minutes
    Gaddis 1000 minutes
    Elliot 2700 minutes
    Trusty 2400 minutes
    Yaro 900 minutes
    Marquez 800 minutes
    Fabinho 90 minutes and a Solar Rocket Ride
    Real 1000 minutes
    Somebody who can play LB: 2300 minutes

    Blake 3420 minutes

    And yes, that means Ilsinho and Crevalle are surplus to needs and we still need to replace Jordan Harvey. And if you give them this much time, by season’s end we will know what we are doing at RB, CB, and midfielder for next year as the kids will begin to differentiate themselves.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Wow, you have Blake standing on the field for over 10 minutes at the end of every game and not giving him any time off for international duty (although I think the Union are off during all of the international breaks).

      • Section 114 (former) says:

        Oops, was going w Premier League 38 games. Sorry! But the idea holds. Just drop 10% off all those numbers

    • Not sure I agree with your original assessment. Players all over the world play way more minutes/year successfully.
      Messi is obviously/always an extreme, but in his 91 goal season in 2012 he played 69 games in all competitions throughout the year.
      I’m not saying you can’t wear guys out – I think Curtin did it to CJ in 2016 when he kept swapping him back and forth between forward and half – but I think most of our players have a pretty high reserve.
      That being said, I do think your numbers are going to be pretty close to what ends up happening. I’m not sure Ayuk and Najem will reach those targets, and I think we end up seeing more of Herbers, Epps and Ilsinho.
      Right half is going to be a war zone in training. I have to think we ship one of them before the season ends.

      • Winger is definitely an interesting spot this year. Accam is going to need rest too as he’s always has some injury issues. It seems like Ayuk is getting some time at OB too. I think Epps probably plays a lot for Steel this year unless he really impresses. But now Burke has thrown his hat into the ring too. Should be interesting to see how it plays out.

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