Player of the Week / Union

Player of the Week: Ilsinho

Photo: Paul Rudderow

So. Many. Choices.

Has there ever been this many deserving candidates for PSP’s Player of the Week? There were two matches, one clean sheet, eight goals (with six different goal scorers), and six crucial points. Oh, and if you haven’t heard, there’s a new team sitting on top of the Eastern Conference table.

So who gets the nod?

  • Jack Elliott? The center back scored the second prettiest goal of the week and is anchoring a back line allowing a conference-best 1.00 goals per game.
  • Kacper Przybylko? The Polish forward is doing his best Cory Burke impression, scoring in each of his first three games (Burke did it in his first four.) He even went so far as to steer the aforementioned defender toward Burke’s jersey for a memorable post-goal celebration.
  • Sergio Santos? All the Brazilian striker did in his return to the field was set a franchise record for shots in a half with five— all of which were on target and two of which found the back of the net. And he only needed 26 minutes to do it.
  • Jamiro Monteiro? Honestly, it’s starting to feel like he can win this every week.

But in a week where a certain a superhero movie grossed over $2 billion, the Union have their own super-powered star. His name is Skillsinho.

Philadelphia’s attacking midfielder, Ilsinho, is the best “super sub” in MLS, and it’s not close.

Even the league’s stars struggle to match the Brazilian’s ginga— or flair. His dazzling dekes and deft feints were on full display this week. More importantly, they were crucial in the Union picking up all six points after a cross-continental trip from Vancouver.

Despite early dominance, Philadelphia were up a lone goal against struggling MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati during the midweek match. Enter the attacking midfielder. Just three minutes after Ilsinho’s introduction, he did what he does: a sweet stepover followed by a perfectly weighted pass into the path of forward Fafa Picault for an easy goal.

How do you defend this guy in and around the box?

New England Revolution couldn’t answer that question. The Union were disappointed to be level with the club sitting at the bottom of the conference. It would have been easy to blame tired legs. Instead the Union set the pitch ablaze in the second half. Ilsinho was the spark.

It took just two minutes for the midfielder to shred the Rev’s back line and chip goalkeeper  Cody Cropper from close range. He then helped blow the doors off the proverbial hinges. On the Union’s third goal of the half, Ilsinho slotted a ball through to Przybylko with the outside of right foot— almost a carbon copy of his midweek ball to Picault. While the initial attempt was denied, Santos banged home the rebound. A little give-and-go with midfielder Alejandro Bedoya in the box earned Ilsinho an assist on the Union’s fifth score.

No team has a player that rivals what Ilsinho can do.

He ranks fifth league-wide in substitute minutes with 147. Here’s what he’s done in that time among all substitutes:

  • First in assists (3)
  • Second in touches (133)
  • Second in attempted passes (86)
  • One fewer chance created than the leaders leaders (4)
  • T-First in “big chances created” (2)

Ilsinho is one of the league’s most creative players in the final third, and the Union have him coming off the bench. When the Union are in trouble, Skillsinho can come to the rescue.

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