Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 0-2 Orlando City

Photo: 215pix

Philadelphia Union’s Friday night loss at home to Orlando City was likely one of the most frustrating matches in recent memory for the team’s fans (which says a lot). The Union surged ahead from the opening whistle, dominated possession, and had myriad chances to score. They did not… and the crowd at Talen Energy Stadium knew what was coming next.

Orlando City, happy to play the heel, made adjustments, scored a goal against play, added another for security, and ran Philadelphia out of their own building.

It was a devastating loss for arguably the most talented roster the Union have ever assembled. Who’s to blame? Just about everyone.

[Please note: I was at this game and typically rewatch all matches before putting together player ratings, but just could not bring myself to do it this week.]

Player ratings 

Andre Blake — 4

Blake didn’t have a lot to do on the night, only facing three shots on goal. Unfortunately, two of those were at point blank range that Blake had no chance of stopping.

Keegan Rosenberry — 3

A very up-and-down night for Rosenberry, who made a couple baffling turnovers, but made up for it with some deft combinations early when the Union were on the ascension.

Jack Elliott — 3

Elliott didn’t have the best evening before his injury, but his goal line clearance did stop the Lions from getting an even earlier notch on the scoreboard. His gorgeous line-breaking pass to Sapong on Accam’s first chance at goal was brilliant. Still, Elliott has got to be stronger on the tackle before Orlando City’s second goal. Hopefully the injury is nothing serious and Elliott is back on the field next week.

Auston Trusty — 2

Trusty was tasked with handling veteran MLS villain Dom Dwyer. Happy to flop like a trout all night, Dwyer schooled the rookie – not only in the dark arts – but deft backdoor runs and savvy cuts that pulled Trusty way out of position and opened up the field in transition for Orlando.

Matt Real— 2

Matt Real was involved in both of Orlando City’s goals, but I honestly don’t think he had quite the stinker everyone is arguing. He was punished severely for two silly mistakes, which is what a young defender can expect at this level. Still, he held his own for much of the night. I think it’s more important to ask why a young backline was left to fend for itself in those precarious situations in the first place.tmls

Haris Medunjanin — 2

In the post-game press conference, Haris Medunjanin said the Union need to be more patient with the ball and build play with possession. I agree! Unfortunately, Haris’ play on the night did not and after building brilliantly for the Union’s strong start to the game, Haris was slinging balls down the touchline that David Accam and Fafa Picault were happy to chase, but led to nothing – and totally killed any possession-oriented momentum for the Union. His lack of defensive prowess continues to be an issue too.

Alejandro Bedoya — 4

I feel for Bedoya. The guy hustles his behind off all game, trying to clean up the holes and gaps and messes that are all over the field. On top of that, he’s supposed to man-mark whoever is pulling the strings for the opposition. On Friday, it was too much and Sacha Klejstan was able to pick out enough dangerous passes together to knock the Union to the mat.

Borek Dockal — 2

Dockal looked decent for the Union’s dominant opening 20+ minutes, but then totally disappeared from the game when Orlando City implemented the press. I forgot he was on the field in the second half until he finally found some space and set up Picault for another miss in the 60th minute.

Fafa Picault — 2

Picault again missed his chances. He’s clearly an improvement over Herbers, but it’s all for naught if it doesn’t affect the scoresheet.

David Accam — 1

Accam had three really, really nice looks at goal and couldn’t finish any of them. With his paycheck (and what the Union paid for him), that’s frankly inexcusable. He gets a “1” not because he didn’t create amazing chances – ’cause he’s really good at doing that! – but because he didn’t finish them like a player of his caliber must. I hate to be overly critical of such clearly incredible, talented professional athletes because soccer is a damned hard game to play, but Accam is just not doing his job now. Beyond the missed opportunities, Accam is a defensive liability and, feeling pressure to score, tries to do everything himself, which leads to totally unnecessary turnovers in the final third. He also straight up becomes invisible when the Union are struggling to reassert themselves in the game, which simply can’t happen if you want to be a team’s best player.

C.J. Sapong — 3

C.J. continues to get absolutely mauled every week without referees batting an eyelash, but he still must do better in front of the goal. Still, Orlando City was able to take C.J. out of the game by exploiting his lack of control on the ball and nullify any real threat from the Union striker.


Mark McKenzie (52′ for Elliott) — 4

McKenzie made his MLS debut (cementing a newest “Youngest Backline Ever” award) and held his own while the Union were searching for a goal. He was definitely nervous out there, but he got his trial by fire over with.

Ilsinho (60′ for Picault) — 2

Last week Ilsinho came in and immediately lit up San Jose. Orlando City was not as impressed with the Brazilian’s tricks and easily sniffed out his maneuvers by challenging Ilsinho to beat defenders with is (nonexistent) speed.

Jay Simpson (76′ for Accam) — 1

Just, why? Why take out your most explosive player for someone who has proven they can’t score in MLS? Why move your only true striker to the wing, where he very much does not belong and is ineffective? Even with Accam’s poor form on the night, subbing him off for Simpson and moving an exhausted C.J. to the wing is about as much of a negative sub as you can get.

Geiger Counter

Chris Penso — 1

The Union did themselves no favors on the night, but referee Chris Penso’s shambolic officiating didn’t help. The calls were inconsistent and baffling (on both sides, to be honest), but Penso fell for Orlando’s pathetic dives and acting time after time. His “1” comes from finally calling out Dom Dwyer for his miserable dive in the box with a yellow card. The two-footed challenge on Ilsinho should have been red. Penso is consistently the worst ref in the league.

Player of the Game

Name: Sacha Klejstan

This is what a playmaking midfielder looks like.


  1. These grades are really low, but it is hard to argue with them. Not sure why Accam gets a 1 but CJ gets a 3. I totally agree that ultimately scorers gotta score, but that applies to CJ equally.

  2. This is pretty much the ratings they deserve for the season thus far.
    Rated Sapong too high.
    Curtin = 1

  3. Fair ratings. Flat performance, uninspired mindset, amateur execution. Our attackers can’t finish. Our D, Mids, and Offense can’t link up worth a damn. Rookie Real has dug himself quite the hole in only a couple games. It was a mess out there, truly. What does Curtin have to lose with experimentation? We’re one of the worst teams in the league. Start Fontana, start Burke, start Epps, and start DJones. If they fail, they fail but at least it’s a different sort of failure. At what point do we stop doing the same thing and expecting a different result???

  4. pragmatist says:

    I’m sorry…I don’t care. I want to. I really do. But I don’t.
    This team had a chance to really take a hold of this city while every other team was crap, and they blew it. Now every other team is getting ready to plan a parade, and the Union put this product on the field.
    Public sentiment is fickle, and emotions can change quickly if they turn it around in a hurry. It’s just getting harder and harder to see how that is possible.
    Go Sixers!

  5. I won’t argue any of the ratings, because what’s the point.
    The Simpson/Sapong/Accam move drove me nuts. Why take out Accam? Let Burke have a run and take C.J. out. Maybe the team benefits from giving Orlando a bit of a different look since I believe Burke offers a better skill set. C.J. isn’t a winger. Curtin needs to stop playing him as one (broken record).
    Just another season as a Union fan.

    • Burke didn’t make the 18 for some reason…


      Curtin gonna Curtin.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Judging by the evidence in hindsight, he was slated to see 90 Minutes in Bethlehem.
        I interpreted that to mean they are working on his game conditioning, which you can only do in games.
        Is it preparing for a change in matters some weeks down the road? Who knows.

    • Given the bench they had, I thought bringing in Simpson was the move to make. (It was him or Fontana, I believe, as the only attacking players left, since Curtin insists on on having a center back, a full back, and Creavalle on his game-day 18.)
      But the player who should’ve come off was Real. You’re down 2 at that point. Who cares if playing 3 in the back leads to a third goal? But even at that, if the Orlando offense attacking a 3-man back line scares you, then the next-best option would’ve been to pull of CJ at that point. But, of course, as pointed out previously, a little-known league rule prevents Curtin from ever taking CJ out of a game…

  6. I’m starting to think the linoshare of this team’s problem is the midfield. I can’t point to anything it does well. It’s just a waste — where play goes to die.

    On the ratings, I get taking out frustration on Accam, but I don’t think he deserves more thanthe rest of the team. Picault was particularly brutal — like a crap Raheem Sterling with an even crappier ability to botch a chance.

    I’m also beginning more and more to think CJ is being unfairly scapegoated for the serious failings of this midfield. I know that a strikers job is to score goals and he hasn’t delivered, but I’m not seeing CJ commit the same kind of mistakes his teammates are making routine. Of all the guys I cursed while watching on TV, CJ didn’t warrant the type of abuse I hurled at everyone else.

    • I still think the midfield is poorly constructed, even though individually the players they have are good.

      Haris has a great left foot, but is slow as hell and will not cover the ground you need from a 6 either defensively or offensively.. We build around him like he is Pirlo, but he isn’t. So we are stuck with a one note 6 who can only be at his best when teams give him a ton of space to either walk into or pass into.

      Bedoya, I love. I really do. What a great glue guy. But half of his job is making up for our limited #6, and the other half of his job is to make late runs into the box because we want want our striker to drop into the midfield playing defense and “holding up” the ball. He basically is not able to shine to his best, because his only job here is the plug the leaks on a flawed team.

      Dockal … I don’t even know. He looks good sometimes. But I feel no TAM level #10 will do well here when our offensive game plan sucks so much.

    • You’re right about the midfield, some good individuals but just don’t work together. You’re also a little generous on CJ. A good striker can’t only rely on the midfield. I agree he doesn’t fully belong in this setup but he still needs to make many more plays,
      Especially runs and movement

      • You might be right GO. I don’t have anything empirical to go on, just my own eyes and gut. I see him holding up play and getting immediately beset by three defenders. If he lays the ball off or pushes it wide, it get’s wasted. As often as he might be late to a cross, his teammates miss him by miles twice as often. What I see is teams knowing that if they hang onto CJ (not hard to do this literally with officiating in the league) this team is not going to find goals anywhere else. It makes me think of Liverpool’s attack and the way Firmino plays almost as a false 9 so often, dropping back on defense, picking out passes more often than taking his own chances, but there are always at least two other guys on the pitch that will punish a defense that takes them for granted. I’m not saying CJ is anything like Firmino orher than that he has definite strengths that I don’t think we have the players that can help take advantage. Maybe if Accam wasn’t starting from so far wide…. I dunno.

        On the midfield, like james said above… I’m left wondering why Medunjanin is even out there. Anyone with half a decent pace can pass him like he’s a training cone. This team has to have a legit #6 and free up Bedoya and Dockal to get involved in the attack far more regularly.

  7. And this really needs to be the beginning of the end for Curtin.

    I don’t know how you can put this on ES. I really don’t. He went out and filled holes again. He got arguably the best winger in MLS and a #10 who is only one year removed from producing in a respectable league and at the European level.

    It’s really all on Curtin now. He got his guys, he has been here for a ton of turn over. I don’t know how many changes he can keep getting.

    • I think it’s equally on Curtin and ES honestly. Things just always take us so damn long to get done in the offseason. And there are still a few players on this team who don’t fit into the system Earnie has wanted to play.

    • It’s mostly all on Curtin. But some blame is also unknown, since we don’t know who the overall club directive is coming from. Still mostly on Curtin

    • The reason that I see this as an Earnie issue is that he has made it absolutely clear that the formation that is to be served is the lone striker. Until that abomination is taken out of the equation, there will be no other way but to put the blame on him. If Curtin was pushing this formation, then Earnie is less on the spot, except for his failure to push Curtin elsewhere. When Earnie publicly states that the lone striker is no longer an untouchable variable, then he gets off of the hook.

  8. Bedoya was the only field player who legitimately had a decent showing. I really felt bad for the guy.

  9. el Pachyderm says:

    If this team was scoring we would not care Matt Real was struggling.
    They put together a line up at the last minute that has zero cohesion. We expect the defense to let up gols.
    The whole damn thing is a repeat of last season. Manager used the exact words, ‘teetering on the edge,’ in his presser.
    If he’s not under pressure to get this team to perform…. WTF.
    Mark Lowry. Hire Him. Yesterday.

    • Joel Pterosaur says:

      I mean, there are not several prominent very proven coaches that have no job or anything…

      Tell me, did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is?

  10. Joel Pterosaur says:

    Here we are five games in… and our offseason acquisitions are performing like ASL stalwarts. I am not surprised about Accam playing poorly. He has always been fast and finishless. Dockal…well at least he’s only here for a year.

  11. Andy Muenz says:

    During the offseason we all called for another scorer and a #10. We got both in Accam and Dockal. Neither has produced. That’s a large part of what is killing the Union.
    It was nice to see McKenzie look OK in his debut.

  12. el Pachyderm says:

    I take issue with the comment ‘jay Simpson proven he can’t score.’
    In my opinion it’s a totally inaccurate statement. In the ONE game he got a start in MLS —- he scored a lovely gol. He’s had MAYBE one other legitimate chance.
    We can’t blame jay Simpson for getting subbed in game after game in the 87th freaking min with the expectation to be a hero when it AS USUAL is a total pell-mell of Soccer ineptitude literally throwing everything at the gol.
    If I was jay Simpson I’d get the flip out of Philly— a year ago.

    • I agree he hasn’t had a long run of consistent playing time, but other than that nice goal he has looked horrible. He controls the ball worse than CJ. Every time they pass it to him it pops up into the air. Burke should be starting or the first sub off the bench because he’s the only one who seems to actually want it out there.

    • I agree too, Curtin does not put his bench players in a position to produce for us.

    • What’s funny to me is that everyone after the match saying “if we had Dom Dwyer, we’d be scoring goals.” Bullshit. He’d be on the bench, just like Jay Simpson because he doesn’t fit Jim’s “system.” Jim clearly likes a center forward who plays like Shaquille O’Neill — get the ball with your back to the hole and muscle your way through the paint for a goal. Braking down a compact defensive line is hard work for some of the best teams in football. With the way the Union play, it’s not hard to just throw a wrench in their training ground play runs. Stay tight and don’t give up space. They won’t find a second or third pass in the final third. …. ugh…. It’s frustrating just to type that.

    • Perhaps Simpson is frustrated with the lack of opportunities here, but I’m sure that the $500k he’s getting paid is making Philly look real attractive to him. I can’t imagine he’d get that money anywhere else.

    • No one will be given a chance while CJ is here. He will play every minute of every real game until he’s injured. I agree though it’s impossible to tell if he is any good or not.

  13. Union goals – Union expected goals = -5.61

  14. This organization is so bad it even screwed up $1 dog night. Some stands were out before the game had begun and everyone was out by the 20th minute.

    Curtin – 0
    Management – 10

  15. Lots of confusion here. If you biuld through your youth system, you must have a coach who is a teacher (Guardiola) rather than a team setter upper (Maurinho). The teacher must teach his players the system. I think thr system can never be set by the general manager, which is a big problem here. The coach must set the system according his vision alone. Also, the Union has 2 ball pingers in the midfield (a la Pirlo) and no team in the world can be successful when half the midfield does not defend. Also , the right and left wings seem to have no defensive responsibilities, or at least see the coach as too weak to make them defend unless they feel like it. The kids in defense can be O.K. but do need some coaching in how to function as a unit. They seem to be kind of winging it. I feel bad for them samd for the team.

  16. Lots of confusion here. If you build through your youth system, you must have a coach who with his assistants are teachers (Guardiola) rather than a team setter upper (Maurinho). The teacher must teach his players the system. I think the system can never be set by the general manager, which is a big problem here. The coach must set the system according his vision alone and according to what players he has available. Also, the Union has 2 ball pingers in the midfield (a la Pirlo) and no team in the world can be successful when half the midfield does not defend. Also , the right and left wings seem to have no defensive responsibilities, or at least see the coach as too weak to make them defend unless they feel like it. The kids in defense can be O.K. but do need some coaching in how to function as a unit. They seem to be kind of winging it. I feel bad for them as well as the team.

  17. There has been two consistents here for a long while, Jim curtin and Jay Sugarman. One isn’t going anywhere. It’s time for a change. A real manager and not a yes man. Someone with vision, with knowledge, maybe someone who isn’t friends with every player.

  18. John Harris says:

    It is good to go over the issues of the day. Just a persistent reminder though that all problems listed are secondary, ultimately, to the ownership. It’s the ownership; it’s always been the ownership. #sell.

  19. The Chopper says:

    Stewart has given a Curtin a mediocre roster to work with. The team is not delivering mediocre results. Right now mediocre would be a vast improvement.

  20. Quaker Shiker says:

    Kevin Kincade’s article from last April can just be re-printed…

    Peter Nowak had two wins, two draws, and seven losses when he was fired in the spring of 2012.

    John Hackworth had three wins, six draws, and seven losses when was sacked two years later.

    In 2017, Jim Curtin is 0-2-2 as the Philadelphia Union occupy last place in the Eastern Conference while ranking 21st out of 22 teams in the combined standings.

    You’ll find a lot of fans who are ready for a coaching change.

    2018, I am ready for a change!!!! Please!

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