Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Atlanta United 3 – 1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Jim Stapp, Prost Amerika

It’s a strange week for player ratings. After a fairly solid first 20 minutes from Philadelphia Union, Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin were both handed red cards and sent off the field. Bedoya and Medunjanin are at best the Union’s two best field players and, at worst, two of their most important both in attack and on defense.

It wasn’t a familiar scenario for a team that choreographs its movement so precisely, and they clearly felt uncomfortable. Still, despite the discomfort and despite the loss, the squad performed quite well to a degree. Here are our ratings:

Player ratings

Andre Blake— 8

Down two players against the best attack in MLS, and Andre Blake only let in three, two of which were penalty kicks. Sure, Blake was saved by the frame a couple times, but he maintained his consistent shut-down performance throughout, all the while quarterbacking the young Union back line through this tough situation.

Ray Gaddis — 6

Ray Gaddis was Ray Gaddis. He didn’t add much to the attack, and he had one bad tackle in the box for a close call. He even seemed to get flustered at one point — not something you look for in a veteran on your back line when your team is down two men. Still, Gaddis did a lot to shut down Atlanta’s attack, who likes to move the ball out wide before cutting in, and his distribution was solid.

Mark McKenzie — 7

Again, it’s rare for the defense to get such high ratings in a 3-1 loss, but the 19-year-old McKenzie didn’t look the least bit shaken in the face of such names as Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez – before or after all the red card nonsense. Atlanta got off a whopping 31 shots over the whole 90 minutes, but that’s to be expected against a nine-man squad. McKenzie’s job was to make sure those shots were from as poor positions as possible. With less than a third of Atlanta’s shots being on target, I’d say he did his job well.

Auston Trusty — 7

Listen, I’m only 25 years old, but back in my day that was not a penalty kick. Trusty got the ball first, and he barely nabbed Martinez in doing so — if at all. Even if you think the challenge was risky, go back and watch the play: He didn’t have many other options. His choices were try his best to get the ball, or give the best goal-scorer in MLS an open shot. The 19-year-old Trusty made the veteran choice, and he continued to do so for the rest of the match. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing him with the captain’s band for tonight’s Open Cup match.

Fabinho – 4

Fabinho was the one member of the Union’s defense that failed to rise to the occasion after the red cards. His distribution was roughly 50 percent, and he didn’t seem to be in sync with the Union’s adjustments after the cards, often leaving his team open to attack because of it. Again, not what you hope for from a vet.

Haris Medunjanin — 2

Haris Medunjanin gets a “2” here, and deservedly so. The team just lost its captain, and Medunjain should have been the “next man up” as they say. Instead, he was the next man out. He lost his cool when it mattered most, and considering the team’s performance, it may have very well cost them the match. That being said, it was strangely invigorating to watch. Apathy has plagued this team’s fans and at times, seemingly its players. I hope Medunjanin continues with the passion… just maybe not quite so close to the referee’s face.

Alejandro Bedoya — 5

This is difficult to assess, really. Did Bedoya deserve the second yellow? Probably not. Should he have approached the referee so abrasively with a yellow card already next to his name? Also, no. He was fine before the red card, so he gets a simple “average.”

Borek Dockal — 5

Another unusual assessment here. First, Dockal barely got time to demonstrate his recent run-of-form before being subbed out. Second, Dockal was strangely out-of-sorts with his right hand side distribution but was keyed in on the left. Usually the reverse is true. It’s good to see Dockal balancing out both sides. Now, if he could just do it in the final third…

Fafa Picault — 7

Perhaps no one rose to the occasion more than Fafa Picault. When your team is down two men, you hunker down and hope for a nil-nil draw, right? Wrong. Picault nabbed the only goal for the Union and presented a threat all night. He put in work equally on offense and on defense. That being said, his distribution and possession were awful. On another night, this would have slowed the Union down. This time, he just gets credit for keeping the Union in it.

Marcus Epps — 5

Epps has the pace and skill to be a real asset on the wing. He didn’t get many opportunities though, and had some thoughtless passes out of the back. Regardless, he gets some slack playing on a nine-man side.

C.J. Sapong — 7

Again, the Union’s defense deserves a lot of credit keeping Atlanta’s high octane attack down to three goals with two PKs. That defense typically relies on a high press to direct the on-coming attack into a more defensible position. You would think that Atlanta’s creative attack would run free against a nine-man team, but C.J. Sapong hustled to keep that attack manageable.


Warren Creavalle (23′) — 6

He had the assist on Picault’s goal and gave the Union a solid presence in the middle at a hectic time. Ideally, the Union would have someone on the roster that could create more as well, but Creavalle filled his role pretty perfectly here.

Ilsinho (57′) – 5

Ilsinho was sent in to provide a magic spark. No such luck, but it was a good thought by Jim Curtin.

Corey Burke (67′) — 5

After coming in for the injured Sapong, Burke really didn’t see the ball much, but the Union definitely lost something in Sapong’s press.

Geiger Counter

Sorin Stoica — 1

Honestly, other than the cards, Stoica called an okay game. But after not reviewing Trusty’s penalty and making no haste in throwing the Union’s two best players out of the match, Stoica’s not going to get a good rating from this publication.

Players of the Game

Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie

Second week in a row for these two. I don’t know whether to grade younger players on more of a curve or not, but with these two I don’t have to make that choice.


  1. Angry Fan says:

    Haris and Bedoya deserve a negative 10. Talk about crap leadership on the field.

    • bedoya should not have been given a second yellow, i don’t blame him

      • If a ref is going to give out yellows to every act of gamesmanship on the field there would be no one out there left to play.

      • Kevin1813 says:

        Based on Bedoya’s yellow, I’m surprised and upset that Atlanta’s players weren’t given yellows for celebrating their goals instead of running back to their end of the field. Just as clear of a delay in game.

      • my thoughts exactly. this week i made the mistake of wading into comments sections and so many atlanta fans are saying “oh well that is the letter of the law” ignoring the fact that if refs did this as a rule there wouldn’t be a game that ended 11v11

  2. Look at this play:

    Look at that lazy, pathetic run. What the hell did he accomplish? First he started running straight vertical, then he cuts a bit diagonal – WHICH HE SHOULD HAVE CONTINUED TO PULL THE CBs OUT OF THE MIDDLE TO GIVE EPPS SOME SPACE – but he changes his mind again and starts to run straight vertical again?!?!?!

    What nonsense. Epps did brilliantly to take a touch into space and dribble. Sapong was a NET NEGATIVE on that play.

    • Why didn’t CJ drift out left into the space? He literally runs into the nearest defender.

      • He is basically at a half jog the whole time and does this weird hop-jump out of the way of the defenders. I wouldn’t want to see this in a U12 game let alone a MLS game.

      • Yeah, that was not impressive.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Because he’s not a striker.
        Corey Burke reads that play entirely differently…and either drags a player out of position wide, and/or crosses up the CBs to communicate on the fly – or best case scenario gets in behind the defense.
        The reason for this is simple and we have all known and seen for a couple years now the starting striker is not a striker… has minimal skill or instinct for the position.
        about that tasty extension for the player?

      • el Pachyderm says:

        best part of that play… is Fafa… who receives the ball in a 2v4 situation and in two quick touches— turns it into a 2v2 —attacking acres of space.
        can’t say enough about the winger on that one.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        wait…. that was epps. point stands.

      • CJ does not ever leave the middle of the field. It kills us. His movement (standing still) is horrendous and honestly his press is nothing special. He should only be a spot starter at best.

    • I remember putting my head in my hands after that sequence. Just awful. CJ gets a 5 at best this match, and that should be the highest rating of the year. He was a major reason I stopped watching from SJ-RSL. I previously been indifferent about his play before this year, but now he’s a black hole in the attack. Jim’s failure to recognize or do something about it will kill this team’s playoff hopes. That will be a real shame.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Player ratings for this game were a waste of time. I would much rather have seen the missing ratings from last Wednesday’s game.

  4. Epps turned it off defensively so bad before he got pulled. 2 times he and Gaddis switched players and he he didn’t even attempt to follow his man leaving ray in an impossible 2v1 situation, both of which led to dangerous close range crosses that should have been goal. It was a really bad look.
    Also, when Fafa picked up his yellow was another horrible call by the ref. I get that he deserved a yellow for kicking the ball in anger, but the Atlanta player fouled/grabbed onto him and it should have been a free kick for us.
    Another annoyance with this game is that last game against Chicago, there was a very similar hand ball by a Chicago player (but just outside of the box) to the one that Fabinho committed this game. For all intents it was the same play. Neither was called, but because this one bounced out of bounds they “earned” a penalty kick. At best we would have gotten a free kick. I know it’s currently in the rules, but there is no logical way that play should be penalized with a penalty kick. It’s a stupid rule that should be changed. The crime doesn’t match the punishment.

  5. “Trusty got the ball first, and he barely nabbed Martinez in doing so”

    Ah, the “ball first” argument. There is no reference to making contact with the ball in the section relating to Fouls and Misconduct in the Laws of the Game. It really only mentions the nature of the offence (careless, reckless, or excessive force).

    And, assuming the use of “nabbed” here means “kicked, tripped, struck, tackled or challenged” it doesn’t matter whether Trusty BARELY or significantly nabbed Martinez. It only matters THAT he nabbed him. This is the cliche “soft foul/penalty” argument. A foul is a foul. Again, the only factor is the nature of the offence.

    All of that said…was it a penalty? I don’t know. It’s not 100% crystal clear that Trusty “got the ball first” or that he did in fact “nab” Martinez. Was it careless? Maybe? The Union fan in me really wants to believe that it was a clean tackle and Martinez embellished. But it’s just. Too. Close.

    What I do believe is that Stoica should have consulted the VAR. I honestly think every PK call should be reviewed since the ruling can lead to a direct kick inside the box that more often then not results in a goal.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I don’t even think Martinez embellished so much as he was already stumbling and off balance and that the ball being kicked through his legs caused him to lose his balance completely and fall.

    • Outside the box says:

      I bet Trusty doesn’t get called for that foul if it didn’t come off of a bad turn over by McKenzie in there own Third. As soon as a ref sees a bad play and a defense scramble, they are looking to make a call because they know the defenders are out of position. I’m chalking this one up to a McKenzie growing pain. Which I am willing to stomach, because I think he is a good player and is going to add a lot this team’s future.

    • I think I’ve seen harder challenges in the box not called in every match I’ve ever watched. He barely puts a hand to his shoulder. His foot towards the ball is the only borderline call there and I’ve watched the replay over and over and remain completely unconvinced there’s even contact. Maybe Trusty clipped Martinez’ heel and tripped him, but the way Martinez goes down doesn’t even make sense. He’s overshot the ball, feels the contact and dives. Look, I don’t fault Martinez for trying there. But it’s a dive.

      • John Harris says:

        I might get some hate for this but I suspect CJ has a reputation for flopping. Martinez should too.

    • Vince Devine says:

      It’s really not that close. Trusty grazed Martinez’s right leg, so how did he collapse to the left? Clearly embellishment. Soccer is a contact sport, a certain amount is allowed. As you noted a foul is contact that is careless, reckless, or excessive. Trusty’s contact on Martinez doesn’t come close to that. Saying a foul is a foul would classify any contact as a penalty.

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