Player of the Week

Player of the week: Haris Medunjanin

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Washed up. Disinterested. A defensive liability.

With a sample size of one, it was easy to grab the torches and pitchforks after the Union’s 3-1 defeat to Toronto FC in the season opener. Midfielder Haris Medunjanin was the Frankenstein’s Monster of Philadelphia.

The thing is Medunjanin does seem like the creation of a mad scientist.

He’s a six foot one inch tall defensive midfielder that doesn’t play defense like a traditional No. 6. He’s slow, but cerebral. Oh, and the Bosnian is one of the slickest passers in the league.

During the Union’s run of form leading to the top of the Eastern Conference, Medunjanin has been overshadowed by the newcomers. Homegrown Brenden Aaronson and French Ligue 2 castoff Jamiro Monteiro have been revelations in the midfield. Left back Kai Wagner was pulled from the third tier of German football to stabilize an infamously unstable position.

Under the radar, Medunjanin has been doing what he does. While he’s no Nigel de Jong or N’golo Kanté, Medunjanin defends by positioning. He’s not going to win any footraces, but he can deny chances through positioning. A pass can’t be made if no passing lane exists. It’s possible to be mediocre in defense and still underrated.

What makes Medunjanin so unique in this league is his distribution from a deeper midfield role.

The 34-year-old didn’t set any team records against Seattle Sounders— mainly, because he already owns them. Medunjanin had 103 attempted passes on Saturday, third most in Union history. Tied for first are the 114 attempts he had against San Jose Earthquakes and Montreal Impact last season. Medunjanin’s 92 successful pass rank fourth. He now holds three of the top four spots in that category including the high mark of 105 in that San Jose game.

While the Union couldn’t beat the Sounders’ Stefan Frei, Medunjanin did his part. Overall, 61 of those 92 completed passes came in the opposition’s half. Of those, 29 were in the final third. One more reduction leaves Medunjanin with a ridiculous five key passes, and none were more perfect than the ball he delivered to forward Kacper Przybylko for a point blank header.

Medunjanin was the metronome, as he so often is, of the Union’s attack. He led the game with a ridiculous 115 touches and held 11.1% of the match’s possession. He nearly broke the deadlock with a post stamped free kick requiring a remarkable save from Frei.

The Bosnian’s performance against Seattle isn’t atypical or uncommon. While this time it didn’t earn the Union three points, it did earn Medunjanin PSP’s Player of the Week honor.

One Comment

  1. His usage rate is ridiculous. Back-of-the-envelope calculation says he made just over 10% of all the passes in the game…by both teams combined.
    And he is averaging 20 more passes per game then the next closest Union player for the season.

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