Player ratings

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 0-0 Columbus Crew

Photo: Earl Gardner

Sure, it wasn’t the most exciting match, but holding the potent Columbus Crew attack scoreless and going two-for-two in shutouts to begin the season is nothing to scoff at. While the attack couldn’t find a crack in Columbus’ defense, the Union’s own backline was steady, well-organized, and closed the game out without a tinge of drama – something previous iterations of the team have never been able to do.

Player ratings

Andre Blake —  7

Blake didn’t have to make any spectacular saves, but his positioning was spot-on so he never had.

Keegan Rosenberry — 7

Is Keegan Rosenberry back? It sure looks like it. The right back was all over Columbus’ wingers, never letting them gain any steam and often snuffing out the ball before they even got a foot on it. Also put some dangerous crosses in, but the chemistry is still developing with whoever is playing right wing.

Jack Elliott — 7

Simple, clean performance from Elliott. We didn’t see him ping as many balls all over the pitch like he did versus New England, but his number one job is always anchoring the backline, which he did brilliantly.

Auston Trusty — 7

Another game, another impressive performance by the Union Academy product. Trusty plays with a real swagger atypical of centerbacks. Please tell me the last time you saw a CB nutmeg a midfielder 40 yards from goal. Yeah, me neither. Extra points for being the inspiration for a Jim Curtin quote about how “centerbacks don’t look like they just walked out of the pub anymore.”

Fabinho — 5

Came out at halftime with an undisclosed leg injury, but wasn’t having the best day regardless. He and David Accam had real trouble communicating and switching off in the final third, leaving Pedro Santos open twice in the box.

Haris Medunjanin — 5

Not the most influential day for the Union regista. Columbus didn’t give him time or space to operate and, with Borek Dockal still acclimating to life in MLS, Medunjanin couldn’t hit those inch-perfect passes he’s getting paid for.

Alejandro Bedoya — 7

Another do-it-all performance for Bedoya. The Union skipper was all over the field, disrupting the Crew build-up and even pushing into the box a few times on the attack. Put a Crew defender on his butt with a nasty cutback, but (like many of the attackers on the day) couldn’t get a shot off. Had the best chance of the day for Philadelphia with a brilliant glancing header off a corner – unfortunately Zack Steffen was right there.

Borek Dockal — 5

Dockal was candid in his post-game press conference: He wasn’t satisfied with his debut performance and he knows he can and will do better. That’s good because Dockal did not exert the type of influence over the game that the Union system requires of their no. 10. There were some typical new-teammate miscommunications, but Dockal was too often making runs like a winger instead of coming to the ball like a CAM.

Fabian Herbers — 4

For someone fighting for a starting job when the suspended Fafa Picault returns, this was not the type of performance Fabian Herbers needed. Throughout his shift, Herbers was simply not in the right spots. Maybe it has to do with both Dockal and Bedoya crowding him on the right flank, but Herbers could neither possess the ball nor find space behind the Crew backline.

David Accam — 5

Accam was absolutely hounded every time he touched the ball and was unable to make much of an impact. Part of the blame goes to Accam’s teammates for not helping him out, part of it goes to Curtin for not figuring out a way to give his best attacker space, and part of it’s on Accam, himself. But with so much of the Union attack tilting to the right, Accam had no one to play off of on the left (it didn’t help that Ray Gaddis was his partner out there for the second half). Should have done better with a great ball from Burke that came right to his feet at the penalty spot.

C.J. Sapong — 6

A quiet game for C.J. save a couple of half-chances in the box where he just couldn’t get a shot off. With Will Trapp and Artur in the middle of the field, Sapong wasn’t really able to be that fulcrum for the rest of the squad.


Ray Gaddis (45′ for Fabinho) — 5

Pretty typical shift for Gaddis. Solid on defense, not much going forward. He kept pinching in next to Trusty, which may have closed the gap in the middle of the field Higuain kept hitting, but left the Crew’s very strong right wing wide open.

Corey Burke (63′ for Herbers) — 7

Burke again showed up Herbers with a late shift. The converted striker offers a real change-up off the bench and has shown surprising foot skills in his first two Union appearances. He put in two really nice balls into the box. Question is, can he do it for 70 minutes?

Anthony Fontana (77′ for Dockal) — 6

A decent 15-minute run-out for Fontana. Had a few nice passes, had a few mistakes, but was solid defensively to see the game out.

Geiger Counter

Nima Saghafi — 5

Saghafi was okay on the day. Gave the Crew some pretty soft foul calls when the men in yellow were obviously embellishing. Besides that, not much to do in a pretty tepid match.

Player of the Game

Auston Trusty

The backline was, supposedly, a major area concern for the Union in 2018. 180 minutes down and the Union are the only team in MLS who has yet to concede a goal. Trusty is a big part of that and he deserves a nod for knocking around a Columbus attack that looked very potent before coming to Chester.


  1. The Crew sat deep and double and triple-teamed Accam and it worked. Sapong, Fabinho, Gaddis, et al did not combine well with him at all. Curtin and the Union need to sort this out because other teams will do the same thing.

    • If someone gets double & triple teamed the coach needs to make an adjustment and has to make sure that the ball gets to those that in free space. Typical Curtin for not make an in-game adjustment and making the most of that opportunity.

      • If the players on the field can’t find the open men when one player is triple teamed what the hell can the coach do?

      • Practice that kind of stuff well before the game so that adjustments can be made during the game!

      • If a good team has a good scheme and is playing against a less good team with a new player and a back-up that also has a good scheme, my money is on the former.

      • Hopefully this is where a fully fit and engaged Dockal comes in moving forward.

    • As we evaluate why Columbus was so able to double and triple Accam, we need to remember that not only was the opposite flank speed merchant out, so was the opposite flank one-v-one specialist, and the back-up one-v-one specialist seems to be relegated to the Steel for unknown reasons. Herbers is best on the flank doing combos, and that was easily shut down.
      That game illustrated why the brought Ilisihno back. if there is meaningful threat on both flanks, Accam gets more space.
      now, the opposing coach may say not to let Accam beat us and that if the other guy on the other side does, go whale his hand.

  2. Elliot and Trusty are the only ones that deserve 7’s IMO. The rest should be at a 6 or below. Mostly average performances with little or no threat going forward.

  3. Burke outplayed Herbers by an order of magnitude (!) and deserves to start the next match.
    I’m no Fabinho fan, but there was a clear drop off in the quality of coverage when Ray replaced him. Zero offensive output as well. I think we’re stuck with him.

    • It will be interesting to see who Curtin puts in at LB if Fabinho has to miss a game. Will it be Gaddis (veteran) or Real (natural LB)?
      If its Real, then the backline L-to-R is 18, 19, 22, 24yrs old.

      • Steven Whisler says:

        Colorado wouldn’t be the worst team for Real to debut against…

      • I’d like to see Real start.
        He looked good in the last preseason game. Get him acclimatized early!

      • It’s gotta be Real. I totally agree with Gaddis being the bench player as he can play both sides in case on injury and you want Real starting for Steel instead of being on the bench, but he’s the backup left back.

      • Nick Fishman says:

        I would guess it would be Gaddis, just because Real is away from the team on international duty. I’d think he’d like the kid to practice with the first team before getting that first start.

      • In RE: Matt Real, he is away in Spain with the USYNT U-20s until 3/28. The logistics and timing of his return will affect his availability for both the MLS Colorado game away and the Nashville USL game home for him.

  4. I thought Fabinho looked fairly solid in this match. He was rampaging up the left sideline for much of the first half; the biggest problem was his decision-making once he got up there.

    I would’ve given my MOTM to Rosenberry, who had a terrific two-way game, cutting off passes like crazy and pushing up into the offense plenty. But Trusty is not a bad second choice.

    Strangely, both Accam and Herbers had solid games on defense… and piss-poor games on offense. Especially Herbers, who can no longer justify the starts. If Ilsinho isn’t ready yet, and Picault has another match to serve, I would either 1) Give Marcus Epps a shot; or 2) Put Captain Bedoya out there for a match and let Derrick Jones play the D-mid.

    I don’t think anybody can complain too terribly much about this match, honestly. This is what you get when you sign your linchpin offensive player on February 31st. It’s gonna take him some time to integrate. The offense is gonna sputter a little until we iron out the wrinkles, and we’ll have to live with it. Just be happy that the kids in the back are doing such a terrific job.

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