Player ratings

Player ratings: Seattle Sounders 0-1 Philadelphia Union

Who saw that one coming?

Philadelphia Union, against basically all odds, went into one of MLS’s least friendly confines midweek and came home with three points.

Basically all the variables were against the Union: Seattle had won a post-shootout era record nine straight games, the Union were coming off their most disappointing result of the year with a brutal 4-1 loss at home to the surging Montreal Impact, and the Union were without playmaker Borek Dockal ahead of an extremely chaotic (and important) two-week slate. Oh, and then they went down to 10 men in the 90th minute.

After some shaky early defending, the Union found their footing, and were able to play their game – having finally learned sitting back isn’t the worst road strategy – to excellent (or just decent) effect over 90 minutes.

And likely happy with just a point, Jay Simpson’s (!) pressure forced a terrible pass from typically stellar keeper Stefan Frei. Fafa Picault intercepted it and slotted the ball through Frei’s legs for the stoppage time winner.

It was a massive result that keeps the Union in the conversation for the franchise’s first-ever home playoff game. It was ugly, but the Union of old definitely didn’t used to win ugly road games.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 7

A few misguided charges off the line early were succeeded by some absolutely massive saves. A well-deserved road shutout for Blake.

Keegan Rosenberry — 5

Not super involved offensively with Victor Rodriguez and Nico Lodeiro looking for balls over the top, but a solid defensive performance for Rosenberry that pushed most of Seattle’s traffic down the Union’s left flank.

Jack Elliott — 4

A couple shaky passes and two yellows don’t bode well, but Elliott was largely solid on the night, leading the team in clearances. His sending off is an outlier and will actually give him a nice, deserved rest over the weekend. (Still, that could have been a six-point red card on another day.) Mark McKenzie will do just fine to step up on Sunday.

Auston Trusty — 6

A no frills, tough, and wily road performance for Trusty. The Union Academy product is workmanlike in his simple, astute defense. Some mistakes that would have led to goals against a more clinical team.

Ray Gaddis — 4

Recovered well from his terrible performance last match against Montreal with a mostly okay 60 minutes before being forced off with an injury. Hopefully, he’ll be back in action soon. Houston’s winger play calls for a solid, cautious defender like Gaddis in the Open Cup.

Derrick Jones — 7

Going high on Jones here. The youngster stepped in for Borek Dockal to lead the team in interceptions (6) and passing accuracy (78%). Jones was not perfect, but he was pretty good. His presence in the middle of the field basically meant that the Sounders didn’t even try to possess the ball in the middle of the pitch. Even his fouls had purpose. Each appearance now seems like another step forward for DJ.

Haris Medunjanin — 6

Vintage 2017 Medunjanin performance. With Dockal out, Medunjanin was asked to be the creative fulcrum of the squad. His cross-field long balls to Burke opened up the field for everyone. That DELICIOUS ball he served up on Burke’s rescinded goal should have earned him an assist. Love seeing Haris bring the fire to Lodeiro late in the game.

Alejandro Bedoya — 4

One of Bedoya’s more invisible outings. It was no surprise, really – he was in that uncomfortable No. 10 role in a game where the Union sat back and ceded possession. Still, you want to see Bedoya do more for the team’s overall quality and comfort on the ball. When Bedoya did have the ball in dangerous positions, though, he did create some chances. Would have liked to see him be a bit more selfish when that deflected save fell into his lap.

C.J. Sapong — 4

Mostly invisible offensively, Sapong’s main contributions were his defensive work on the left wing. That said, a tough road game is just the place for some hold-up wing play and you’d like to see Sapong be a bit more involved.

Fafa Picault — 7

Hustle wins road games and, with his six goals this year in the white away kit, Picault has put the work in to earn special commendation for his winner in Seattle. He ran hard all night on both sides of the ball and it earned him one fantastic chance that he buried. May his finishing continue to improve. Extra points for a very good salsa celebration.

Cory Burke — 7

Thanks to VAR, Burke didn’t make an impact on the scoresheet (but that touch and finish, though, right?). Still a really great effort from the striker. Without Dockal’s service, Burke made some extremely intelligent runs to find just a little bit of space in the box. His press was strong, too, and you gotta love the Jamaican’s comfort with milking the clock in front of a hostile crowd.


Fabinho (59′ for Gaddis) — 5

Quiet performance for Fabinho, who thankfully didn’t bring his sun rocket to Seattle. The Union will take it.

Fabian Herbers (81′ for Sapong) — 4

Didn’t see a whole lot of action, as the Union were basically just lumping balls forward for the last 10 minutes. Would like to see him fulfill more an Ilsinho-type role late in games, where he can use his vision and passing to kill off matches.

Jay Simpson (88′ for Burke) — 9

A 9??? Hey, why the heck not?!? Jay Simpson saw the field! And his press and fresh legs forced some terrible goalkeeping and led to a Union winner! The man deserves a 9!

Geiger Counter

Ismail Elfath— 4

An OK game. I guess. Elfath was inconsistent all night, heavily favoring the home side in his calls. (He called twice as many fouls on Philly.) He also seemed to unfairly pick on Jones for some cleanly won balls. Elfath has a track record of whimsy, which has led to many crazy games under his only-sometimes-watchful eye. The VAR decision was probablyyyy ultimately correct, but that is one small margin. Elliott’s second yellow was the right call, though. Sometimes that high positioning of the center backs comes back to bite you.

Player of the Game

Fafa Picault.

Man, the absolute sauce to beat Frei in that 5-hole is exactly what past iterations of the Union have missed.


  1. Great win!! But Derrick Jones would have cost us 3 goals if we were playing Red Bulls. He gave the ball up in the defensive third at least times. I was not nearly as impressed. I saw his stats as well, but the incomplete passes were VERY telling.

    The Geiger counter should be a 1. Elfath was terribly inconsistent, and biased. The yellow card count alone tells you that. He fell for at least three Sounders dives as well. He is one of the best MLS has to offer. He was not on Wednesday night.

    • Yeah, maybe Jones was ok on the stat sheet, but I felt like he was playing like he was distracted. I don’t think his fouls had purpose, I saw them as being mistakes.

  2. “Elfath was inconsistent all night, heavily favoring the home side in his calls.”
    Should read the comments on the game page from Seattle fans…

  3. The Union had a home playoff game in 2011; they had a home-and-home aggregate series that year.
    Will Elliott get a 2 game suspension, one for yellow card accumulation and one for the red? He went into the game only one card away.

  4. See ya Jack Elliot. I think you are better than Mark but you’re out now until further notice cause thats how it happens round here.
    “see I’m under the gun round here
    oh man I said I’m under the gun round here
    and I can’t see nothing, nothing round here.”

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who prefers Elliott to Mackenzie.

      Mind you, I think Mackenzie is very good, and I am really happy to have him on the squad for exactly that reason. But I never thought Elliott should’ve lost his job in the first place.

      • I never thought he should’ve lost it either. I like Elliott. But I also really like McKenzie. It’s interesting to see how the two of them, Trusty and even Marquez are four vastly different CBs.

      • Old Soccer Coach. says:

        I like McKenzie for his speed and intelligent defensive positioning.
        I like Elliott against a team that plays an aerial game and for his passing.
        I think Elliott could become a 6 in front of McTrusty.

  5. My player ratings. Simpson – 9. Blake – 8. Fafa – 3. Everyone else – 2. The team was thoroughly outplayed and only Seattle’s inability to shoot into an open net kept it from being a blowout 15 minutes in.

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    Jay Simpson – 9.
    SURE! WHY THE HELL NOT?!? Everything else in Unionland is bizzaro right now. Just go with it!

  7. So Simpson’s 9 horribly cheapens Elliot’s 9 when he got 2 goals on the road (should of been a 10) …. and it was Fafa’s run and placement to get the W…and he gets a 7?! Plenty of guys hustle like J but barely get a 6. Lets keep some integrity to this process or we might stop reading.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Jay Simpson”s excellent positioning to give Frei one possible pass only that Picault read before Frei even released the ball meant Picault could cover the ground in time.
      He did his job properly and helped win the game, whatever a number may happen to be.
      The way Kleberson earned his money with that free kick for the win, so Simpson earned his.

  8. Blake was the savior early. Commanded the box and his header save was vastly overlooked. 10 easily plus ur Burke rating was too high. Give Blake some love.

  9. Jay Simpson’s Mommy says:

    Yes Simpson managed to not die out there and made one nice pressure. But he also turned the ball over every time he touched it.
    I’m thrilled with the recent signing because hopefully this is the last time we ever see Simpson on the pitch for the U.

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