Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 3 – 2 D.C. United

Photo by 215pix

Stop here if you’ve heard this before: A Union team bent on possessing the ball were scored on against the run of play…

Or this: A runner found space between the Union’s center back and fullback, punishing the Boys in Blue for their miscommunication…

Now, keep reading if you’ve rarely read this before:

The Union possessed the ball, made their usual set of defensive mistakes, and still found their themselves victorious by delivering the knock-out punch they’ve had such difficultly in throwing in 2018. That was the story from sunny Chester, PA over the weekend and here are the player ratings.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 4

The Union talisman had little to do on Saturday besides take goal kicks and pick the ball out of his net. He was the lowest rated player on the entire Union team (according to, namely because one out of every three touches he had ended up in United hands (feet) and one out of every two shots he faced ended up as a goal. Not a great day, despite the win.

Keegan Rosenberry – 4

Rosenberry and the rest of the Union midfield did some truly productive attacking on Saturday. As Adam Cann pointed out, he was one of four Union men playing Right Wing.

That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see how it plays out for ’em.”

In fact, Rosenberry was listed in his usual Right Back position and was among the team’s best in possession and passing. He gets a below-average score for two reasons: any defender on a line who gives up two goals should know he didn’t have his best game, and in both instances Rosenberry had some fault: the first, when he let himself be eliminated as a passing option for Jack Elliott because of his positioning too far up the line, and the second when he could have closed down the crosser (and, yes, lost some of the team’s shape) but instead waved Fafa Picault to cover instead, resulting in ample time for the D.C. attacker and the resulting wonder-cross that said time afforded.

Jack Elliott – 4

Back in the XI after missing some matches to injury, Elliott had an unspectacular game. His score is mostly a result of his errant pass that led to a final-third turnover and United’s first goal. His reaction with the ball in the net suggests he knew the fault was initially his, and though he was solid in the air (after having a few bad matches in that regard before going off injured), defenders are judged by few other things than goals against.

Auston Trusty – 4

Smooth on the ball and stout in the air, the rookie’s score is below average for his mistakes on both goals: stepping to a less-than-50/50 ball on the first and ceding fatal space behind him on the first, and getting caught ball-watching while his man glided in behind him on the second.

Raymon Gaddis – 4

Gaddis had his typical day on the left side: he was solid 1v1, did his best in adding to the attack (actually a solid contribution, all things considered), but found himself on the wrong shoulder of the attacker on both United goals.

Alejandro Bedoya – 6

Alejandro Bedoya looked his “Captain America” self on Saturday, and it was about time. He and his midfield mates appeared as though they understood what the others might be doing AND finally turned that understanding into actual goals. His assist on C.J. Sapong’s 2nd of the season was vintage Bedoya: his pass wasn’t the prettiest of the sequence (that honor goes to Haris Medunjanin), nor was he the one who wrote his name on the score sheet.

For Bedoya, his contribution was as “the guy behind the guy behind the guy.”

Haris Medunjanin – 6

D.C.’s press threatened to break the Union all afternoon. After the visitor’s early goal, that threat was clear and present. Medujanin was there to open the release valve, a metronomic presence all afternoon in linking up 97% of his passes. His score will always be limited by his defensive contributions, which were few and occasionally guffaw-able. However, in this delicately balanced Union midfield, someone else will just have to step up on his behalf.

Until then, let the man pass.

Ilsinho – 8

The list of Union players capable of an afternoon like the Brazilian had on Saturday is short. Boreck Dockal certainly has the vision and David Accam the requisite guile. Right now, neither offer the kind of consistently defense-paralyzing combination that Ilsinho brought on the afternoon. Finally his teammates were moving into space for him, and the difference it made in the winger’s game was profound: 2nd most shots on target, dribbles, and key passes on the team.

Boreck Dockal – 8

The reader may recall the Union’s long and winding search for a #10 this offseason, and the subsequent hand-wringing when said player arrived and looked like yet another of the misfit toys on Union Island. For one day, at least, Union fans can eschew wringing for clapping. Dockal wasn’t perfect, but he asserted himself all day in United’s half of the field, relentlessly searching for the final pass as well as a goal of his own. Though an assist never came, his first tally in Union hoops will be remembered as the kind of strike that only a slightly cocky man with a chip on his shoulder might ever even attempt, let alone score.

(For historical reference, please accept this submission of a “slightly cocky man with a chip on his shoulder.”)

David Accam – 6

Accam was a buzzsaw on the wing, the kind of assertive afternoon Union fans hoped he might have when he arrived on Super Bowl Sunday. None of his five shots hit their target, but he offered two key passes in the final third and enough possession to quiet some of the supporter’s groaning (even if only for a week).

C.J. Sapong – 6

Give the man his due: a bunkered United side made every ball in the air a difficult one for C.J. Sapong to even find, let alone win. But win he did, with the most aerials won on the team, in addition to his side’s crucial second goal. If the narrative goes, “the Union midfield are starting to learn each other’s tendencies and will be better as the season goes,” then Sapong’s subplot will sound something like this: “If there comes a time when the target forward doesn’t also have to play the hold up man, the winger, and the creator, Union fans might end up with a striker whose capabilities far exceed anything they’ve seen before.”

(For those keeping score at home, one of Sapong’s shots on goal over the weekend came from outside the 18-yard box. Without a super computer at this site’s disposal, it’s difficult to say on what date that happened prior.)


Fafa Picault (for Ilsinho, 68′) – 4

Picault didn’t see much of the ball in his 25 minutes of work, and he didn’t do much with it when he got it. His passing percentage was lowest on the team by any field player and, though he brought his usual energy and acceleration, he’ll have to add another dimension to his running if he hopes to find a spot in the starting XI again. United had him figured out and bottled up.

Cory Burke (for David Accam, 82′) – 5

Cory Burke is lean, strong, and assertive with the ball. Though his touch is never quite right, it gets him in the right spots more often than not. It’s unclear exactly how he should be deployed for the Union right now, though, because he’s struggling to exert himself in games with only 10 minutes to do so.

His floor is probably former Union man, Brian Brown. His ceiling could be much higher.

Warren Creavalle (for Borek Dockal, 88′) – N/A

Dockal got his curtain call and Curtin made his expected, if not anticipated, defensive substitution (it was only for a minute or two, but it technically counts). Creavalle didn’t have a single touch in his brief cameo. His performance, then, might be entitled, “Modern Soccer: Playing without the ball.”

Geiger counter

Armando Villareal – 5

Villareal was a bit inconsistent, may have missed a hand ball in the box on Jack Elliott’s second half shot, and seemed to forget that many players on Ben Olsen-coached teams inexplicably fall down. In the end, though, the match was decided by the play on the field and not the official’s whistle. In Major League Soccer, that’s enough.

Player of the game


This award should probably go to Borek Dockal for a number of reasons: passing, shooting, and scoring. It goes, instead, to the jaunty jogador because his change of pace and poise on the ball most thoroughly undid the wall of defenders that is Benny Ball. So different was his contribution to the player who replaced him that his performance must be recognized.


  1. Looking forward to more in form Ilsinho. Fafa/Burke as impact subs has me excited for more. Missed the game due to travel

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Agree that Ilsinho was the best player on the field (even if I still think his goal should have been called an own goal…and wouldn’t it have been typical Union if midway through game 7, own goal was tied for the team lead?).
    I thought it was also interesting that both Union center backs picked up yellow cards for plays in the offensive half of the field.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      “Own goal tied for team lead” was my only thought when that happened…

      • Likewise. I made that comment to my daughter right after it was announced. Also pretty surprised the goal was changed to give it to Ilsinho.

    • IMO it was a definite own goal. by my estimation its several yards wide if not off the defenders heel. counts in the scoreline either way.

      • Yeah, I’m fairly certain that the ball has to at least have the chance of going in to get credit for the goal. That was more of a cross than a shot, and certainly was not on goal and probably could have gone out for a throw-in.
        Home-town boxscoring.
        Great for Ilsinho though, he’s been overdue for a goal.

  3. I would like to ask the PSP Commentariat. When was the last time we saw a Union #10 play with the confidence and drive of Dockal? Barnetta maybe? All through the game I kept thinking that it was nice to have someone in the middle of field with a Union jersey asking for the ball and driving forward with their head up. Especially if the other other team (like DC did) was going to leave it open for him. To me, he and Acam still need to work on their chemistry though.

    • I had that thought while watching — that he put in a 2016 Barnetta-esque performance. As for the rest of the squad, aside from an almost comical lack of ability to put a shot on target, the real weakness seems to be Medunjanin. With a capable #10, I think we need a defender at the #6. Not a good distributor. I’m sure Medunjanin is probably one of the best locker room guys on the team, but we could really use a destroyer out there.

      • Why not replace Bedoya??

      • Why replace Bedoya? He’s at least playing as a midfielder, getting up the field on attack because Medunjanin doesn’t, and getting back on defense because Medunjanin doesn’t.

      • Medunjanin’s passing is a luxury we can’t afford. A said it it well. Bedoya’s value is that he plays a direct midfield role. I thought his first half was pretty bad, but that he stepped up well and he started to contribute. Medunjanin just doesn’t have the pace to defend or to really challenge in attack. I’m taking Bedoya over Medunjanin every day.

      • Agree completely. A 6 for Medunjanin is 2 points too high. His nice pass to Bedoya leading to goal #2 was perhaps his only contribution to the match. He completes 97% of his passes because he is dropping between the CBs and making the large majority of his passes to one of them rather than to the wingers, where we could really use it. He is contributing insufficiently on offense and on defense right now, and if it doesn’t change soon, I would really love to see Derrick Jones promoted from Bethlehem. Just sayin’.

      • Tim Jones says:

        I would add to the descriptive discussion of the Bosnian his improved pressure on the ball defensively when it is his run to attack the ball carrier in the defensive third.
        I would also state that dropping between the wide CBs is a deliberate tactic implemented in 2017, that allows both outside backs to step into the midfield simultaneously.

    • His passes were too often totally errant; so I would have rated him a 6. Then just before he scored he lifted his head up to pass. A better defender would have been able to block the shot after that hesitation. If he can improve his passing then will be fun to watch him this season.

  4. pragmatist says:

    I love Ilsinho’s play, but his inconsistency drives me crazy. You can count on this 8 being followed by an anonymous 4. I hope he somehow finds the fire for every game (or at least most of them) because when at his best, he is invaluable to this team. When he’s not at his best, we are playing shorthanded.
    I love Fafa as a late-game running at tired legs. Hopefully, Ilsinho shows enough to keep that combination in place.

    • I bet we see more consistency this year since we have better players around him. I bet his bad games are not quite as bad as they were before. This is based on the thought that if they shift players to deal with him like they did in the past, then Accam will burn them.

    • Tim Jones says:

      It may have something to do with thencharateristics and tactics of the individuals in opposition.

  5. Have to admit it was nice to DOOP 3 times. We know the defense is going to leak goals. But the offence needs to put away the chances! We coulda’shoulda had 5. But….done complaining!

  6. Taking the next steps to improving the Union offense ………Its always nice to win .Finally got a glimmer of hope that the Dockal move will work with time, He played his best game to date, ,,,. the Union need at least 2 new players ….. a better forward then Sapong and a ” younger more durable version of Ishinio”. Ilshinio played well. He made some great moves. He drew 2 players to him and found the open man. There is nobody else on this team with his skills. Unfortunately he will not last more than 60 minutes for a few games before he is injured. He cant help it. He is getting older. Fafa and Accam can not make those “Ilshinio moves ” and teams already know that. Both are more 1 dimensional in their attack and teams have figure out hw to contain Fafa and Accam.

  7. Paul Costa says:

    This win came at the right time, which is probably its second best attribute, after the fact that Dockal finally gave us a reason to believe. A number of players disappointed (see 4s above), which against a better team gets us a loss. But it was DC. Thankful for small favors from the soccer gods.

  8. Tim Jones says:

    Evaluating a defender is more than just how many goals were surrendered.
    Metrics are less helpful, as the subtleties of spacing are hard to quantity, particularly by an Opta intern recording everything while watching it live.
    To my eyes, on the first goal, Gaddis made the assumption that Elliott would not lose possession and was already up field leaving Stieber behind. Trusty was giving lateral cover to his slightly less pacey center back colleague. Chris Gibbons’ point about Rosenberry is excellent. But give Elliott credit for aggressiveness offensively.
    And credit Acosta for jumping the pass from distance decisively.
    We are playing an extremely aggressive high line defensively. We will give up goals doing so.

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