Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: New York City FC 3 – 1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

After traveling to NYC with high hopes, Philadelphia Union walked out of Yankee Stadium Sunday night disappointed. They had the opportunity to beat a team with a recently poor run of form and secure third place on the Eastern Conference table – good for a home playoff match and their highest finishing position.

Instead, the Union put in a dismal first half performance. Unnecessary errors and lapses cost them dearly, as NYC scored two goals in the first ten minutes. The Union also got an early contribution from Cory Burke in the 14th minute, but it wasn’t enough, after David Villa nailed home a third for NYC FC. The Union played a much better second half, but the first half ultimately defined the match, as neither side scored for the remainder of the match.

How did the team do individually? Not great.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 4

This was the worst match Andre Blake has had in recent memory, mainly because Andre Blake doesn’t play poor matches. He too often got caught off his line. On a normal day, he could have gotten to the first goal from Chanot, and if he had held on to the ball like we’ve seen him do before, there would have been no rebound for David Villa to score from. Blake did save five of NYC’s seven shots on net, but the two he let in were enough.

Ray Gaddis – 5

If Ray Gaddis is your main complaint from this match, then you are missing something. Gaddis does not offer as much as some other right backs in the league going forward, but he has undoubtedly improved in that regard. In defensive transition, he covered for some of his teammates’ mistakes and potentially kept this match closer than it could have been. If Ray Gaddis played the same way but his teammates elevated their games, this match might have turned out differently.

Auston Trusty – 2

As a center back, if you help get a shut out, you get points in our rankings. If the other team scores, you lose points. If you score on your own goal, you lose a lot of points. This one was tough to watch because Trusty has been so impressive all year, but there was no reason to reach on that cross with Ray Gaddis in a better position to clear it. That own goal – Trusty’s second of the year – really killed any chance of retrieving momentum that the Union had. How he recovers from that mistake heading into this week’s playoff game will be a good challenge for the future leader of the Union to overcome.

Mark McKenzie – 6

McKenzie dominated defensively all over the pitch. Just look at his heat map. Few players in MLS move as well as David Villa and Jesus Medina, and when they were McKenzie’s man to mark, they didn’t impact the game as much. Sure, he had some poor dribbles that resulted in threatening play, but it’s good to see the 19-year-old trying that style of play. His distribution was solid and intelligent, except for a few long balls. The homegrown continues to impress.

Keegan Rosenberry – 4

We saw just a slight return to some of the bad habits of last season on Sunday night, as Rosenberry lost his man once or twice. Granted, when that man is David Villa that’s an easy thing to do. Keegan Rosenberry by no means had a poor match. But he’s capable of much more, especially moving up the pitch and into the box. If he had given that much on Sunday, it could have meant another goal.

Haris Medunjanin – 4

Medunjanin had some very uncharacteristically poor, square passes that gave way to some threatening NYC counterattacks. His defensive skills were most concerning, however. Haris Medunjanin has never been the greatest defender – he’s admitted as much. But he particularly struggles against this NYCFC side. Simply put, he’s just not as fast as David Villa and Maxi Moralez, even when they have the ball. That’s won’t change anytime soon, so Jim Curtin is going to have to account for it come Wednesday.

Alejandro Bedoya – 4

Bedoya just couldn’t seem to work his way into the middle of the field. The Union create some opportunities when Bedoya, Rosenberry, and C.J. Sapong or Ilsinho link up along the flank, but they are most threatening when their center midfielders command the center. If Bedoya isn’t able to contribute to that, a lot of the Union’s attack falls apart. To be fair, that improved greatly in the second half, but obviously the first half defined the match.

Borek Dockal – 4

Even more so than for Bedoya, it is imperative for the Union that Dockal receives the ball in the middle. Frequently. Dockal’s play was largely relegated to patches on the wings and deep in his own half. It also would have been nice to see the MLS assists leader try a shot himself tonight, as the Union seemed to take just one too many touches from time to time. True, Dockal defines himself largely as a facilitator, but he is fully capable of putting a threatening shot on net when he needs to.

C.J. Sapong – 3

Sapong lost Maxime Chanot on that first goal, and he stopped tracking Sweat back before he crossed it in for Trusty’s own goal. He didn’t capitalize on a couple golden opportunities, although he did earn the Union a penalty kick. C.J. Sapong was signed to play more physically than the other side and to score goals. He failed in both regards on Sunday.

Fafa Picault – 5

Frankly, Picault was solid for most of the match. He’d have a higher ranking if it wasn’t for his unsuccessful penalty kick attempt. Still, if he makes that penalty kick, maybe the Union rally and turn it around. When Sean Johnson made that save, however, the game felt like it was over.

Cory Burke – 6

I actually believe that if Burke had stayed in the match longer, he would have received a lower grade. Burke’s goal was more a result of good positioning than of finishing prowess. Granted, positioning yourself well is no small feat in this league, but his careless yellow and his individualized play warranted his substitution. All the same, Burke scored the team’s only goal of the match, and he deserves an above average rating.


Ilsinho (Cory Burke HT)- 6

On a small pitch in which the Union were struggling to create space, Curtin brought Ilsinho on to challenge defenders one-on-one and create havoc. That’s exactly what Ilsinho did. It wasn’t always successful, but it was successful enough to make fans wonder if he deserves the start on Wednesday.

Fabinho (Keegan Rosenberry 68′)- 5

Fabinho came on to play a high wingback as the team switched to a three man backline. He didn’t really impact the game that much. He barely got the ball at his feet, and he had no defensive actions on the night. When he did receive the ball, however, he generally did something productive with it, and his presence in the middle of the field at times was enough to open NYCFC’s defense.

Jay Simpson (C.J. Sapong 76′) 4

A late offensive substitution needs to be a player that can burst onto the scene and can hopefully provide just enough energy to get that extra goal. Simpson barely made an impact on the match, if he made any at all. He just doesn’t fit in Jim Curtin’s system, and Sunday night demonstrated that unfortunate fact all too well.

Geiger Counter

Alan Kelly – 6

Called a fair match, and prevented an increasingly heated and aggressive game from getting out of control.


  1. If I see Sapong in the starting lineup Wednesay, I am turning the game off*.

    * ok i will probably still watch it but we will lose and I will want Curtin gone.

  2. I give Curtin a 3. Team was poorly prepared and when he subbed Burke and put Sapong up front it was a recipe for failure. At halftime he should have gone straight away to 3 in the back and played with Simpson and Burke up front. Sapong should have been subbed at halftime.

  3. What in the world was Trusty doing on both of those crosses?
    This is the 2nd straight week where Medunjanin has played sloppy square balls that either led to turnovers or stunted the Union’s movement forward. That combine with his ineffectiveness on defense is starting to hurt the Union I fear.
    All the love for Ray Gaddis? Good player, but is out of position more often than he gets credit for – which is why we see his stunning recovery speed so often – and he jumped like a mad-man right before Villa’s goal which helped the initial cross come in.
    Last, I know Curtin has limited options off the bench to begin with, but Fabinho? That was not the game for him. A better sub would’ve been Jones for Haris to try and actually defend and get the ball back. Maybe not an ideal switch, but a better one.
    I’m being extra stingy because I’m angry at the team’s failures in big games, but a large part of that is the lack of execution and discipline by the players. This is the best Union season ever, points and record-wise, but they still can’t win an important (see: HUGE) game, and in fact looked awful in them. Don’t know who to blame more, but something has to change on Wednesday for me to NOT think this season was still a failure.

    • Medunjanin has been making about 2-5 sloppy square passes a game for the past year now.
      Agreed on Gaddis, why do other players need to elevate their game when he’s the highest paid defender.

      • There is a pay scale set by the league. It includes small bumps up for ever start, every goal, and I don’t remember what all else.
        The longer the player is in the league, … etc.
        Also, remember every salary reflects three decision-makers, not two. The club, the player, AND the league office.

      • I know all that. I’m just saying Gaddis should really be the one to elevate his game in these big game situations, and 2 times now he has come out flat.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    How bout on David Villa’s scrum goal… not less than 6 union players in the box and EVERY ONE of them are flat footed watching the ball and not one person thinking, this is arguably the best striker of the last 12 years…. maybe I should account for him.
    inexcusable goal for him to score….
    In all honesty, I would have rather watched him score from half field again which if you will recall was the one thing I argued against late last week. My how a thought can change.

  5. Chad Boardman says:

    what i would like explained:

    there’s about 20 min left in the game, you are down 2 goals. so, for a spark, you add Fabinho for Rosenberry. I know they play different sides of the pitch, but on what planet does substituing one offensively minded fullback for another offensively minded full back get you 2 goals?

    I don’t mind bringing on Fabinho (i was asking for him for Gaddis in the USOC final), but the general rule of the substitution (outside of someone who is gassed or playing poorly) is ADDING something to the game. Whether that be speed, creativity, physicality, another attacker, etc., etc., etc. What we got was essentially a like for like switch at fullback. what is the difference between Fabinho and Rosenberry’s offensive games? the former crosses more, and later cuts back to make more horizontal passes (not in the air). I know it’s a simplification, but that’s about it.

    Also, that’s 2 games in a row where you must go for the win, and we had 2 CDMs on the bench.

  6. It’s amazing how invisible some of these guys were on such a small pitch….

    • Yankee Stadium is noticeably small. Therefore crowded. That bothered some players.
      Muscle memory trained for nine months and more does not change in four practice sessions. Neither do instinctive senses of spacing.
      Years ago a team I helped coach had an away game every other year to a field that was huge compared to ours.
      That experience was followed at the next school by a game away on a huge field every season.
      Yes, professionals should be much more adaptable than high schoolers. But there were clearly times when under pressure the instinctive ingrained muscle memory kicked in and erred.

  7. I hope that Curtin has them practicing on a smaller field Monday and Tuesday. Ilsinhio needs to start. Bedoya needs to have a team meeting MINUS Curtin. They need to work out any issues with Burke and Doakal. They must win all50/50 balls.They need to put a body on Villa and not get caught.Tusty has to stay focused and Blake has to direct his players better. If by some miricale we are ahead in the first half , Crevalle should come on for Harris. Curtinshould be fired Wednesday if they lose. it’s been long overdue. he is a mediocre coach who should never have been given the head coach job. it’s time to clear out ALL of of the Phila ” old boys coaching staff”. Doakal must be resigned at any cost. He is the most important field player they have. Burke should start every game and play a full 90 minutes unless he is injured. I am ok with Sapong on the wing, but not on as allied like Yankee stadium.At the end of the season they need to dump Simpson and Accam. Next year a new coach.By the way where is the German striker? Hoping we play like our hair is on fire. Bedoya and Harris need to be leaders because Curtin is a dead fish. He must go.

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