Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 2 – 0 Sporting Kansas City

Photo credit: 215pix

Coming right in the heart of a grueling 15 day span, immediately before the U.S. Open Cup final, and against a Western Conference opponent, this was a game every Philadelphia Union fan was prepared to lose. When Union head coach Jim Curtin fielded a lineup that was primarily backups and depth players, many took that as a sign that the Union had come to the same conclusion.

Clearly that was not the case. Featuring just two regular starters, this Union “B team” stepped into Talen Energy Stadium and surprised everyone. Not only did they win the game, but they never even looked like they could lose. Across the board, players stepped up, played well, and probably made Jim Curtin’s job a bit harder going into the rest of the season.

As always, a reminder on grading: Players start with a 5, which represents an average performance, and points are added or removed from there.

Player ratings

John McCarthy — 8

With six saves and a clean sheet, John McCarthy was as much a part of this win as any other player on the Union. There was a brief moment in the 80th minute where a Graham Zusi shot was bobbled with the Kansas City attack closing in, but McCarthy recovered it. All that matters is the ball stayed out of the net all game long.

Olivier Mbaizo — 7

Players making their MLS debut tend to be graded on a softer scale than regular players. Maybe that is happening again here. After all, he did make a meal out of being bumped by Matt Besler, even if the decision not to award a penalty was questionable. But otherwise the young Cameroonian had a solid and surprisingly mature game. He was good under pressure, tenacious, and wasn’t afraid to step to attacking players.

Mark McKenzie — 6

On any other team, on any other back line in MLS, Mark McKenzie would be a freshman sensation. He’s smart and skilled, though small missteps like a sloppy back heel to Trusty in the 58th minute show there’s still room to grow.

Auston Trusty — 8

Without context, his ability to read the game and act on what he sees would warrant praise. But given he only just turned 20, it’s exceptional. He’s performing well above any reasonable expectations for a player his age, and whatever mistakes he makes (like leaving too much space in the box and allowing a dangerous cross in the 67th minute) are not “rookie mistakes” so much as concessions to reality that no one is perfect.

Fabinho — 6

Dude’s still got it. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed to see Ray Gaddis back at left back this Wednesday, but there’s certainly comfort to be found in the fact that his backup is as good as Fabinho is.

Derrick Jones — 5

Don’t get it twisted: Jones played well on Sunday. But he also showed that the scarcity of his playing time is due to his game still needing work, and not some sort of conspiracy by the front office to squash every player’s sophomore year.

Warren Creavalle — 6

Like Fabinho, Warren Creavalle demonstrates how high the Union have raised the floor of their performance. If he is a backup midfielder that plays so starters can get a rest, this team is doing pretty well.

Borek Dockal — 5

Coming back from injury, and barely playing more than a half, there wasn’t much to see from Dockal in this game. He didn’t do anything wrong, and he certainly kept Kansas City’s defense guessing as his positioning on the field was particularly fluid, but he also didn’t leave a meaningful impression on the game. But that’s fine, because this wasn’t the game the Union need him ready for.

Fabian Herbers — 6

Other players are going to get the headlines, but Herbers had a sneaky good game on Sunday. Whether it was punishing Kansas City by blasting a poorly cleared ball back at Melia in the 35th minute or setting up other attacking players with dangerous passes and crosses, his work contributed to the win even if he never found the score sheet.

David Accam — 6

With plenty of speed and good work done on both sides of the ball, Accam had one of his best games in a Union jersey. That the Ghanaian has only found the back of the net once this season defies logic, even if having never earned an assist is more an indictment of the team than of him.

Jay Simpson — 8

Breaking any scoring slump is good. Breaking it by scoring a brace to help the team find three unexpected points? That’s amazing. The Englishman made the most of what is likely to be the majority of his minutes this season, hopefully attracting the attention of some other team not committed to playing a 4-2-3-1.


Alejandro Bedoya  (Dockal 55′) — 7

Remember when Bedoya playing No. 10 was a massive liability? Those days are behind us, apparently. That isn’t to say this was his best game, but he earned an assist on both Union goals and showed the versatility and outright hustle that has made him an asset on every team he’s played for.

Fafà Picault (Herbers 63′) — 6

Kept pace high and SKC off balance, even if his contributions to the game didn’t earn him a place on the scoresheet. Most importantly, he should have plenty left in the tank for Wednesday.

Keegan Rosenberry (Mbaizo 85′)– n/a

More than anything, this substitution was about getting a rookie defender with a yellow card off the field.

Geiger Counter

Mark Geiger — 3

It doesn’t matter what calls he got right or how much he kept the game from truly getting out of hand if he can’t be trusted to make calls consistently. If Beasler didn’t foul Mbaizo, then Herbers didn’t foul Nemeth.

Player of the Game

Auston Trusty

Several players could have earned this honor, but Auston Trusty is getting it. Controlling Kansas City’s potent attack kept the Union in the game until Jay Simpson came alive in the second half, and Trusty’s work on defense was a big part of the clean sheet.


  1. I like Mbaizo a lot. Shut down dangerous Fernandes on more than one occasion and displayed serious confidence going forward. I have no further comments on these ratings. Go Union.

    • The Union seem to have found a second pipeline to the academy, Africa. There are 4 young players consistently starting for Bethlehem right now. I would love to see M’baizo get a run at LB next year. He seems solid defensively and looks really dangerous getting forward.

      • true. if we’re not going to mine South America, we can mine Western Africa

      • Well, mine central Africa, then, because the combination of Congo-Kinshasa, Cameroon, and Zambia is probably best summarized under the adjective “central” when you look at a map.
        And another young man from central Africa is on loan to the end of the season, Antonio Lokwa, from Congo-Kinshasa. He’s an 18-year old string bean who plays in the central channel in the midfield.

  2. Spot on ratings and comments; well done!

  3. How is David “let me run directly at defenders getting dispossessed 98% of the time” Acaam not having an assist an indictment on the team?

    Tyler Twellman absolutely losing his shit on Accam being offsides in the second half was a highlight of the broadcast.

    • My thoughts exactly. Accam seems to think his speed can get him straight through defenders when he has the ball. It did work once this year, on his goal in Chicago. Maybe MLS defending has gotten better and his only move doesn’t work anymore?
      Was I the only one to hear Twellman pound his fist off his desk when yelling at Accam?

  4. On Dockal and Bedoya: I wouldn’t say Bedoya at the 10 is no longer a liability. To my very untrained eyes the Union had much more possession before Bedoya came in for Dockal. I think 5 seems too low for him, but I’m not sure “the team was better with him on the field” is a good enough reason to bump up his rating.

  5. The dynamics behind McCarthy’s spot on this team are underrated. He’s a solid backup who knows that he’s a backup. He’s happy to step in and play in games like this and he won’t get an inflated sense that he should be starting somewhere. Combine that with his local ties and we really are lucky to have him on the bench. He’s solid and reliable and not going anywhere, even if Blake eventually moves to greener pastures.
    A great situation that benefits everyone and doesn’t seem likely to change at any point in the future. Keep it up, JM. Great game again.

    • If we ever end up transferring Blake I would be totally fine running McCarthy out as the starter. He has turned himself into a good keeper.

  6. Agree with all the ratings except Geiger was too high. He was consistently horrible and is the worst ref in this league.
    If for no reason other than optics, he should go back and look at VAR on the Mbaizo foul. It can’t hurt and proves to the fans you want to make sure the call was right. Not checking seemed arbitrary and provocative. The hard foul soon after was no coincidence and the game could have easily gotten out of hand. There were plenty of other bad calls too. Can we petition PROs to no longer have him ref Union games?

    • Geiger’s problem, at least from afar, seems to be that he treats these games like the World Cup in that he doesn’t really wanna pull out cards and he assumes that the players will keep their composure since there’s so much on the line. But it’s not the World Cup – it’s the MLS regular season. Pull out a freakin card once in awhile, or at the very least do something when u blow the whistle instead of just point. And I’m glad he didn’t do this to the Union players, but I mean when players run up to you and scream in your face, shouldn’t that warrant a card? That got Ale & Haris ejected from the same game after all, albeit from a far worse official than Mark Geiger, one Sarin Stoica.

  7. McCarthy – well done sir. In the rain none of those saves are really “easy” but he did well.
    Trusty had – dare I say – a top 5 all-time performance for a Union center-back. I understand a few mistakes, and I don’t excuse them just because he’s 20 because he plays older than that, but so many times he stepped up to amend for his teammate’s mistakes and was consistently just in the way of SKC chances. I remember thinking that if Simpson didnt score 2 goals that Trusty would probably be the Man of the Match – but sure enough he was just that in the recap on the league’s website. Although to say that Simpson’s volleys were “easy” is silly, especially given the weather and condition of the field.

  8. The number of B-team dudes who just stepped in and took command was, frankly, impressive.

    And I’d start with the fullbacks. Fabinho did a fairly solid job; only once do I remember him really lunging forward foolishly and letting someone by him. Mbaizo was really strong for a first-game player (who doesn’t even speak English!) the defensive midfield duo of Creavalle and Jones kept the ball moving well, and Accam looked quite lively (in the first half at least).

    Then there was McCarthy, who, frankly, is good enough that I don’t get a sinking feeling when Blake isn’t in net. And given Blake’s shot-stopping ability, that is really saying something.

    Last but not least, Jay Simpson spent the whole first half prowling around the goal, looking for opportunities, pressing defenders, and basically making himself useful. Then when he got 2 opportunities he buried them both. If he plays like this, you even have to wonder if the Union might negotiate a (much) lower salary for him and try to keep him around next season.

    P.S. On the ratings, I was much less impressed with Herbers than you were; I’d like to see Marcus Epps run back out there if somebody needs a rest. And Bedoya should be at least a point higher, maybe 2. I mean, you play less than 40 minutes and set up both goals, what more can you ask??

  9. I liked seeing that the team, the whole team, seemed genuinely happy that Jay scored and had an overall quality game (yea, I know everybody is happy when you score, but it seemed a bit more than that. I can remember times when Alberg would score and barely get a high-five). I imagined there would be a bit of “resentment” that this high(er) priced player was basically absent from the season.
    Seeing the reaction and subsequent praise and such makes me feel even better about this team.
    Psyched for Wed…..

  10. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    Simpson ability to hold three players on his back after scoring in celebration should be worth another point. Talk about putting the team on your back! Lol

    The only thing about Jones game is that he continually makes the lazy pass in MLS that he probably gets away with in USL. He cleans that up and he future looks bright.

  11. It’s good that I didn’t write these ratings. Everyone would’ve gotten a 10 for authoring the least expected victory in Union history.

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