Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Ilsinho

Photo: Rob Simmons

Ilsinho’s performance against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday was one we will talk about for a long time.

It was the moment when Ilsinho ascended from talented player with fitness issues to an outright phenomenon.

Simply put, he was nearly unstoppable.

Eight minutes after entering the game for Brendan Aaronsen in the 53rd minute with Philadelphia Union down 2-0, Ilsinho created the Union’s first goal and then scored one of his own a minute of later to even up the score.

Eleven minutes later, he scored the game-winner.

Then he was robbed of a hat trick later in the game by a fantastic Luis Robles save.

Naturally, it was all highlight reel material. How many times will we get to see Ilsinho dribble through two defenders as if they weren’t there?

Union head coach Jim Curtin has, after trying other alternatives, hit upon a formula for success with Ilsinho that simply has no analogue anywhere in MLS and maybe even world soccer. (If you have examples from around the world, share them in the comments section.) Ilsinho doesn’t start games. He finishes them, with authority, pizzazz, and thrills. Once he enters the game, he becomes the team’s attacking focal point in a way that is generally expected in a starter but never in a reserve in pro soccer.

For the best comparison, look to basketball’s sixth man, in which a non-starter comes off the bench as a featured player seeing significant minutes, with Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson perhaps the perfect analogue, so dubbed because he heated up quickly to score off the bench.

The nicknames that have begun to abound regarding Ilsinho tell the tale: Skillsinho, Cheat Code, the Can Opener. We’re going to have pick one of them one of these days, but for now, it’s enough to watch him dazzle.

For all that and more, Ilsinho is our Player of the Week.


  1. Only soccer analogy I have is Liverpool’s Divock Origi this season — some absolutely game saving goals in substitute appearances off the bench v Newcastle and Everton. Scored the clincher off the bench in the CL final. Punched Liverpool’s ticket to that final in the 4-0 win over Barca, but he started that match. And Origi won’t be accused of imposing his will on a game through skill.

    I think Frank Lampard was filling that role for Manchester City in some ways before he came to NY., but I wasn’t really paying much attention to them. Ilsinho’s role definitely feels a lot more like an NBA sixth man. It’s been fantastic.

  2. I wonder if this will have an impact on ILSINHO jersey sales? It should. He was amazing.
    I’m tempted to ask for an ABRE-LATAS jersey (“can opener” in Portuguese) for Father’s Day.

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