Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 1 – 3 Toronto FC

Photo credit: Paul Rudderow

Saturday was tough. The Union showed up well in the first half, controlling the game but having a hard time breaking through Toronto’s bunker. But in the second half, especially after the 70th minute, it all fell apart. Some of this is Toronto getting lucky, but some of it was Union players failing to meet expectations. Which isn’t to say there weren’t things to be hopeful about, but it’s hard to be positive about allowing three goals, and the ratings reflect that.

Reminder, our ratings set a score of 5 as an average rating. Points are then added or subtracted from there based on performance.

Player ratings 

Andre Blake — 4

Despite the scoreline, Blake had a fairly good game. Of Toronto’s three goals, DeLeon’s was the only one he could have done something about.

Raymon Gaddis — 4

It wasn’t a bad game by Gaddis, but if the Union is going to find success with this diamond midfield he’s going to need to find a way to contribute offensively.

Jack Elliott — 5

A surprising score considering the result. But Jack Elliott was doing his job on Saturday afternoon.

Auston Trusty — 5

Just like Elliott, this result isn’t on his shoulders.

Kai Wagner — 6

In a game full of disappointments, Union fans can at least look to the possibility that the team might finally have a solid left back.

Haris Medunjanin — 3

Haris is a complicated guy. We enjoy his antics, be it talking the ref out of carding an opponent or stealing orange slices. And of course his pinpoint accurate passes are things of beauty.

But he shuts off defensively, with disturbing regularity. On both of Bradley’s goals, he stood and watched it happen, flat-footed and passive. In a diamond midfield the rearmost midfielder has significant defensive responsibilities. Either Medunjanin accepts that role and turns on defensively, or he needs to be replaced in the lineup or moved to a position where he’s less of a liability.

Ilsinho — 4

We all know Ilsinho’s biggest party trick is facing off with defenders one on one, or sometimes two on one. But that formidable skill set didn’t show well on Saturday. And if that’s not showing up, you can’t ignore easy passes like he did when he left Fabián standing, undefended in front of goal like he did in the the dying minutes of the first half.

Alejandro Bedoya — 5

A quiet night for the captain. As he’s playing a position he’s been most successful at throughout his career, expectations are definitely high this season, but he still needs to meet them.

Marco Fabián — 4

Another Union debut to feel good about … with a minor caveat. He was out there trying stuff, and some of the stuff he was trying looked promising. But his goal, the Union’s only goal, came from a PK they were lucky to get. For the role he’s playing, the Union need more than luck.

Cory Burke — 6

Burke had a fair game, drawing the attention of Toronto’s defense consistently and leaving other attacking players free to do their thing. And he got a few shots in too, eventually they’ll start going in.

Fafà Picault — 7

Picault really showcased what he can do in a two-striker system. He was a threat on goal, he was a threat on the wing, and he was always keeping the Toronto defense busy. He didn’t find the back of the net yet, but there’s no doubt he will eventually.


Sergio Santos (for Gaddis in the 68th)– 5

The Brazilian came in shortly after Toronto scored their second goal, making him a tactical response to how the game was being played. Hopefully we see more of that from Head Coach Jim Curtin this season. And hopefully we see more from Santos than we saw on Saturday.

David Accam (for Ilsinho in the 74th)– 4

Ineffective and invisible. Unfortunately, very similar to the Accam of 2018. That will need to change if Accam wants to keep his spot on the bench, let alone finding a starting spot.

Geiger Counter

Nima Saghafi — 2

Before saying anything, a disclaimer: Maybe better officiating would have kept the game closer, but speculating on such things is nothing more than pointless navel-gazing. In the end, the Union lost this game, not the ref.

Video Assistant Referees are a good thing, embraced the world over even in the traditionally luddite Premier League. But it’s role should be to make sure the center ref got it right, rather than a crutch the official calls on to make every single call for him.

Michael Bradley is a handful, running his mouth even more than Alejandro Bedoya. And dealing with that isn’t easy for any official. But when you allow it to run unchecked you get the mass confrontations that plagued the final twenty minutes of this game.

Consistency is key. So if Picault deserves a yellow because Auro stuck his foot under the Gazelle’s heel, then doesn’t Bradley deserve one for cleating Fabián?

And lastly, probably the most iconic example of Saghafi’s complete disconnect from reality- if a keeper is about to kick a sixty yard long-ball goal kick in the dying minutes of a game their team is losing, it really doesn’t matter if the ball was a foot off the goal line.

All in all this was a completely unacceptable performance by the young referee. He lost control of the game, not through inaction and a refusal to call players on their fouls, but by an inability or unwillingness to do so in a way that showed a consistent interpretation of the rules.


  1. Blake.
    1. I think he deserves some of the blame for the second Toronto goal. He makes a nice save but… he pushes it right toward the penalty spot. Setting it up on a platter for MB. Yeah the field players (here’s looking at you Medunjanin) should have dealt with it better but Blake shouldn’t have put them in that situation.

    2. He gets some stick for placing the ball a foot over the six. Maybe my faulty memory is failing me but I think I saw the sideline ref waving his flag like there was an offside on the play. Given all the ref confusion prior to that I was not sure what the call was. Goal kick – offside – foul, who knows. Maybe Blake was just as confused.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    In Los Angeles a 16! Year Old electric attacking player was subbed into a game when the team was losing and struggling for a spark and brought instant wattage. I’ve followed Efrain since he was about 9 years old. Look out.
    Now I’m not stating any one of our young players could hold the Gatorade bottle of Efrain Alvarez, or Ulysses Llanez or Eric Mendes…. but Haris and Ilsinho for 90….eh? More of that workmanlike like Ale Bedoya… who I really don’t hold responsible for the insipid display Saturday. He’s Ale. The Elmer’s Glue of a midfield.
    I feel like Stephen Stills…. opining, ‘seems like I’ve been here before.’
    Anthony Fontana.
    Derrick Jones.
    Brendan Aaronson.
    … is it me or every time I’ve seen Anthony Fontana play with the first team—- something happens- typically news worthy? Yet nothing.

    • Jim Curtin.

    • Jim Curtin doesn’t want to lead young men “to slaughter” as he’s phased it once before. I don’t think he’s ever going to overcome the protective instinct to not put young guys in challenging situations. Maybe in his own youth he suffered a setback or felt out of his depth. Every time he neglects to play a kid he feels like he’s saving himself by saving them.

  3. I think the Fafa grade is too high. Yes he did tons of work and looked like the best player on the field for the Union, but he missed his chance in front of goal. A 6 for me.

    • Yeah, Fafa looked ok with a good cross to Burke that should have been a goal, but that miss was terrible and he didn’t lead to any dangerous chances.
      Medujanin was awful and should have had a 1. He was directly responsible for 2 goals. Give me Jones/Creavalle/Elliot at that 6 position.
      Gaddis was useless. Should have been a 2 maybe 3 at best. Tons of space behind him with no help up front.

      • Medunjanin is officially pirlo 2.0 and its not to be ignored. He got his shot. Bring in Derrick jones or creavalle or someone in the window.

    • Jim O'Leary says:

      I had him at a 6 at first, but felt he performed better than Burke. Since we don’t do half points, Picault had to go to 7.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I thought both Burke and Picault should be lower. The team had a lot of issues putting their shots on target and by definition, they are the ones most responsible for that.
        I would probably give Blake another point for the PK save.

      • I honestly didn’t have the heart to be concerned with or debate any of the other ratings. That match was just depressing.

  4. Couldn’t break through the line, but the two forwards are the highest rated? No way. Burke was very poor this game. Fafa was good but just can’t quite finish. Too high IMO. Anyway Haris and Gaddis clearly stood out as not fitting the system, obviously Haris to a far more detrimental level.
    Does Santos and Fafa our together or does Burke become Curtins new Sapong who can’t be benched?
    Is Bedoya able to play the 6? Or is that wide spot perfect for him. What happened to Jones, did anyone ask the coaches after the game, is he hurt?
    Curtin better figure out the right combination soon or he may have a short season. For the love of god please sub faster and make in game adjustments.

    • Agree that the forwards should have been ranked lower. Believe we only had 4 shots on goal the whole game and 1 of those was the penalty. Also no one mentioned the corners. Must have had close to 15 and all but 1 were total rubbish. Those who took them should be marked one point less just for that.

  5. xG: PHI 2.80 – TOR 1.94
    We (shockingly) need to work on our finishing.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      This hurts so bad, more than anything else about the match. Once again, the Union were undone by their inability to put the ball in the back of the net (in addition to the egregious defensive errors).

  6. As I said before Haris can not play the back end of the diamond. Never. Jones is the logical choice with the current roster. I agree with an earlier comment. Its time for Fontana to be put in ilshonios slot. Fafa needs to finish more consistently. I saw nothing from Sergio. I think this may have been an awful signing. Fabian needs time to gel with the team. Trusty looks shaky. Gaddis is ok but no help starting something from the right.Why was Rosenberg traded? For who for what?? Curtin is too stubborn and to loyal to certain players. I hope Ernst takes appropriate action before it’s too late to make coaching or player changes.Curtin needs to be kept on a short string.

  7. I keep getting a Saying does everything he is supposed to but score vibe from Fafa.

    We aren’t constructed for the diamond we are playing. If we had a 4-3-3 we probably would have been better suited to win this game

  8. fafa didn’t just not score, he wiffed on his best chance. he was fast but didn’t create a ton either. both him and burke are too high.

  9. This was the comment I left on the Game Preview thread (March 1, 12:04pm):

    “There is no way your starting lineup is right. Bedoya on the left side??? Ilsinho starting??

    Meanwhile, I fear you may be right about Medunjanin starting at the 6. If he does, that seals a loss — probably 3-1. It’s gonna take a few weeks before we score multiple goals in a game.”

    Not happy to have been so spot-on.

  10. The thing that truly makes me hang my head about this loss is not the disjointed offense (I expected that, given the new CAM and the new formation), nor the fact that Medunjanin started at the 6 (which was really foolish, but I knew Jim would try it), nor even the fact that he started Ilsinho and moved Bedoya to the left (which was also pretty foolish, given how much of a right-sided player Bedoya is, and how well the R side of the diamond fits him positionally).

    No, the thing that truly baffles me, the thing that makes me think that Curtin may get fired this Spring, is that Derrick Jones wasn’t even in the 18.

    I mean, seriously, you’re putting Creavalle above Jones?? Why, so Jones can get minutes with Steel?? Which means not only are you starting Medunjanin at the 6, you’re not even leaving your young destroyer on the bench as an option in case your plan doesn’t work out?? Honestly, if this is where Jim’s head is at this point, after seeing everything all of us saw the last 2 seasons, and knowing what we are aiming for going forward, then he just doesn’t have the tactical acumen to coach this club.

  11. Zizouisgod says:

    I’d like to add another category:

    Talen Energy Concessions: 1. This is mostly for replacing a dedicated craft beer stand in the south concourse with one that just carried Modelo.

    “I’m so happy that they shortened the line for Modelo”, said no one ever.

    • To add to this….
      Is there a cheese curd stand on the North side? The South side one is now a Zac’s.
      And the new “Southern Cuisine” stand needs work. Fried Chicken was nothing special and luke-warm.
      The concessions need more pre-season training than the She Believes Cup, apparently.

  12. OneManWolfpack says:

    Just another, albeit worthless, point on the refereeing: watching the KC/LAFC game last night – if the Union had had that ref, this game turns out differently. He had control. He handed out multiple necessary cards, including a second yellow to Espinoza.
    It is what it is and the Union didn’t play great, but they really got “MLS’d” (see: screwed) in the last 20 mins.

  13. Wow, so much to say here because so much was wrong on Saturday.

    First and foremost, the old Yogi Bera saying is so appropriate. Deja Vu All Over Again !

    Every year the pundits and the fans look forward to the changes, the new players, more experienced players, and this year also brought the new tactical scheme. Every year we get the same disappointing result.

    Sure this off-season was a bit different because the signings occurred earlier and some bold (well slightly more bold) moves were made. However in the end it was just another another year of the Union being cheap. Too cheap to sign a world class striker (I believe Giovinco was available?), and too cheap to sign a world class 6. So what can we expect this year? More of the same and perhaps an 0-3 start.

    As to the ratings:

    Blake 6: He can’t be at fault for leaving Michael Bradley wide open in front of goal. He also saved a Penalty kick. Sure it was not a great kick, but give him credit for saving it. As to the ball he saved and put right back to the middle, try stepping in there yourself and making that save while still trying to direct it anywhere else.

    Gaddis 5: Yes he was average. He showed zero on the offensive side of the ball but we all know what Gaddis is. He is a solid defender. He is not the wingback that is expected to cover the flanks in this formation. He doesn’t fit this scheme. That’s not his fault. That’s on the coach.

    Elliott 5: Elliott was solid and I like him back there. To me he is more dependable than Trusty and McKenzie. He deserves to start.

    Trusty 4: No glaring mistakes but if he read the game a bit better he might have been able to step up on at least the first MB goal. Yes the goal was totally on Medunjanin but I feel Trusty could have positioned himself better.

    Wagner 6: I liked him. For his first game he showed a lot. Good on moving forward and still able to get back and cover. A few small ball handling issues but I think he just needs to get more comfortable. This may have been a good signing.

    Medunjanin 2: Dumpster fire. When I saw the lineup I’m thinking to myself that it must be a mistake. Why would you start a defensive liability midfielder at the 6 spot? What thought process would ever justify this? Setting aside his total lack of defense, he also did not have his usual touch on passes and kicks. He was totally off. Nothing worked for him on Saturday. I love watching him play when he hits those perfect passes. However in this scheme there’s really no place to put him.

    Ilsinho 4: What? How do you start Ilsinho as a shuttler? Sure he has come a long way in fitness since his first year, but that certainly is not a spot for him. He also is not a 90 minute player. He could certainly handle the role and even impress as a sub in the 60th minute. Fresh legs and his moves against tired defenders is the perfect role for him. JC set him up to fail in this game.

    Bedoya 5: Solid but not much else. He is out of position on the left. He should have started on the right.

    Fabian 4: I didn’t see anything from the magician this game. It’s his first start on a new team and in a new country so I’ll give him a chance. I just saw nothing in footwork or vision. He was easily shut down by the Toronto defenders.

    Burke 5: Average performance. Nothing great but no major mistakes either.

    Picault 4: Same Picault as last year. Lots of heart, lots of hustle, great speed, and ability to take on defenders. All great, but then he has ZERO finishing skills. He has no clue about how to put the ball in the net. How he missed that goal is beyond me. Would Giovinco have missed that opportunity? In his role as a striker he needs to finish opportunities. It’s not the right spot for him. He is better suited to being a shuttler and hopefully be able to pass the ball off to a striker who can finish the chances.

    Santos 4: Another ghost. I saw nothing from him. Give him the benefit of the doubt just like Fabian on his first start, and even more so since he had limited time on the field.

    Accam 3: Shaking my head. What is going on with this guy? Last season he was injured. Now he should be healthy. On a good day, with his previous skills he should be able to fill the role of shuttler or striker.

    Saghafi ZERO: What a total disgrace to professional referees. The guy was a disaster. How do you let MB yell at you all game and not give him that second yellow? There was more than enough cause for dissent. How do you not start giving yellows to Toronto for simulation and wasting time. It was truly laughable. How do you consistently call fouls when the attacking team had an advantage? How do you let play proceed with the Toronto GOALKEEPER laying on the ground? This had to be the worst officiating I’ve ever seen.

    Curtin 4: Putting players in positions that they can’t possibly succeed in is a recipe for disaster. I like the guy. He’s a super nice guy. Up till now it’s not even all his fault since he didn’t have the players. He still doesn’t have the right players but he’s making it worse by putting them in bad tactical positions.

    Concessions 3: Why would PJ’s get rid of their wings???!!! The wings were excellent and one of the best values in the stadium.
    Why would Zac’s sell single burgers outside the stadium from their truck, and not sell single burgers inside the stadium?

    Well, I will still be at every home game as I have for the past 4 years, and I’m afraid the Union will have the same consistent result…mediocre.

  14. So everyone is forgetting when Jones was something of a turnover machine last year.

    • Jones was a beast in preseason. Whenever he came in, he changed the match. He shut everything down in the middle. Yes, it was preseason, but he at least looked a hell of a lot better than Haris. He deserves to start and Curtin deserves the unemployment line.

    • Union fan says:

      Jones played 385 minutes last year. I don’t see how you could label Jones anything in so few minutes. 180 of those minutes came in 2 back to back games, at Seattle and home vs SKC, a 1-0 win and 2-0 win. Considering Seattle came in to that game on a league record 9 game win streak and the SKC game was the B-squad days ahead of US Open Cup final. Looks like he played pretty well defensively with the extremely rare chances he was given.

    • Jones barely played last year. We were told he wasn’t quite ready. Not sure I believe that, but OK. This year, he has to be ready. Because if he isn’t, we have no starting #6. Since Haris absolutely cannot do that job. And this was obvious from last year, so it’s not like I am Monday morning quarterbacking (see my comment upthread).

      Jones is either ready now, or he’s unlikely to ever be ready. It’s time to start him. And if he truly isn’t ready, Tanner better work on getting us a #6 ASAP.

    • This happens every year.
      So player is deemed to be unjustly benched everyone freaks out about it until they finally get on the field and everyone is like “Oh”

  15. Interesting that you give Blake and Fabian 4s and say they played fairly well but you also give Accam a 4 and basically say he was awful. Doesn’t add up.

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