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Player Ratings: New York Red Bulls 2-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Rob Simmons

After a fantastic win against Atlanta and a competitive draw against LAFC, the Union went to Red Bull Arena and played a languid match in which they failed to create much and were punished for their mistakes. The high pressing Red Bulls were no where to be found and instead the Union found a bunkered team, willing to adsorb pressure and wait for someone from Philly to find a creative edge. No Union player found that creative edge though and the Union found chances few and far between as the Red Bulls defended stoutly and won almost every second ball.

An unfortunate hamstring injury to Mark McKenzie opens the door to Auston Trusty or Aurelien Collin to get back into the side in time for the playoff push. Philadelphia will have a chance to redeem themselves in San Jose on Wednesday night when they take on a depleted Earthquakes side.

Player Ratings

Andre Blake – 2

Coming off one of his strongest performances of the season (albeit another game where he fumbled a ball that eventually became a goal), Blake’s costly first half error gifted New York their opening goal. Worse yet, it allowed New York to retreat into their own half and dictate the pace of play for the rest of the match.

Ray Gaddis – 2

It felt like the Red Bulls had a plan to allow Ray Gaddis to try and play out from the back and the right back rarely found the right passes on Sunday night.

Jack Elliott – 5

It felt like Elliott and McKenzie (and Medunjanin) were having a kick around in the center circle for large parts of the match. Finished with four clearances and eight recoveries.

Mark McKenzie – 5

Unfortunate night for McKenzie who picked up a hamstring injury in the loss. Similar to Elliott’s game, spend a lot of time passing to his defensive partner. Four clearances and seven recoveries for McKenzie.

Kai Wagner – 4

A lively performance for Wagner who got forward enough to throw four crosses into the box. Unfortunately none of them found a Union player. Did well to keep pace with the lively Josh Sims, but just missed his tackle on the ball that led to the first NY goal.

Haris Medunjanin – 3

After two very strong performances against Atlanta and LAFC, the Union’s quarterback looked short on ideas for a Red Bulls team content to sit players behind the ball most of the evening.

Alejandro Bedoya – 4

Playing alongside Medunjanin, Bedoya put in his typical workman like performance. He did well to pop a few times and overload the wings in midfield. But like most of the team, couldn’t find a crucial pass in the final third for most of the night.

Brenden Aaronson – 3

The youngster just couldn’t get himself involved, completing just 7 of 9 passes.

Fafa Picault – 4

Similar to Aaronson, Picault found his touches limited, particularly in the final third.

Jamiro Monteiro – 3

A player that many Union fans would have voted player of the season before the last few weeks has looked very pedestrian over the last stretch. Played as an attacking midfielder in this one, Monteiro found little to influence the match and often had a Red Bull defender for company where ever he roamed.

Kacper Przybylko – 3

A poor match for the friendly striker, who found his service limited, his midfield touches clumsy and his best opportunity for a shot go well over the crossbar from the top of the box.


Sergio Santos – 3

Arriving in the 54th minute for Aaronson, Santos hardly got involved in the match, completing 5 of 7 passes and failing to register a shot.

Ilsinho – 4

Provided some spark and individual flare to a match that had little of it, but failed to carve out big chances like we’ve seen the Brazilian do off the bench all season.

Marco Fabian – 4

Replaced the injured McKenzie on 75 minutes and was able to get on the ball and ping a few passes around the midfield, but failed to provide and key passes or big chances.

Geiger Counter

Jair Marrufo – 2

Poor night for Marrufo who was inconsistent with his calls and allowed New York to effectively time waste from the 35 minute mark on.

Man of the Match – Josh Sims

The Southampton loanee looked lively throughout the match and delivered the cross that would end up being the game winner from Barlow.


  1. These ratings are largely too low. There is a distinct bias toward reduction of ratings when the team loses and raising them when the team wins, even when the individual performances do not merit it (in either direction). Keep in mind that if Robles doesn’t make a great save on Picault, followed by Long’s very lucky save on Bedoya, the whole match is different.

    In this case, the Union went vritually the entire match giving up only a single goal to a very good offense team until the very final kick, when they were aggressively pushing for a tying goal (and therefore it counts less, IMO). Blake made a really bad mistake, but he also made a couple of excellent saves. A 2 is too harsh. All the defenders ratings should also be higher. I agree that Gaddis is where the offense goes to die, but giving him a 2 on that basis is much too harsh.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I didn’t write these ratings but I’d argue they’d graded on a curve now: a 5 from last year is a 4 today, or something like that. The team is too good to have nights where they look so lost for so long, even when they’re a bounce away.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing on the Fafa/Bedoya inability to finish. If the Union put it home there we are probably talking about a completely different story.

      • For sure. Even granting Blake’s goof, it’s a 1-1 game. Then they never go with 3 in the back, and the last goal probably doesn’t get scored, and you wind up with a 1-1 draw on the road to a tough opponent.

  2. The ratings may be harsh, but let that sink into a team that has to show better form to put it kindly in situations like this where we have excellent chances to shape our playoff seeding and qualify for the CCL for the first time. They gifted the first goal, failed to finish, passed the ball around too much especially in the box, etc.

    This was not a routine match. We can still finish out well but doubtlessly this a was a great chance to gain headway and put some distance between others in playoff seeding and CCL qualification contention where it’s down to the last matches and the wire. When it’s time to step up to take advantage of such rare opportunities and you drop it, the gradings should be harsh. Hell, I’d give -1s match ratings for them flopping the USOC finals for the third time last year and blowing silverware and the CCL yet again and against a team that wasn’t even heading to the playoffs. Imagine if this was the Eagles game yesterday after that fumbling and dropped pass mess but it was a NFL playoff contention match….they’d be hiding in north Jersey somewhere….

    • The gift was by one player who has unquestionably done a hell of a lot for the team in the past. Unlike the comment in the ratings, I think Wagner did an excellent job defending on the first goal where he essentially forced the play to go to Blake. 999 times out of 1000, that is not going to be a goal but an easy pickup for Blake.

      • I don’t dispute that Andy. Blake has been our ace in the hole and it’s not an indictment of all he’s done. Give up a trash goal like that in a late season key playoff seeding and CCL qualification race where it costs us 3 points, and that deserves a doughnut rating for the match. It doesn’t matter how well he otherwise did in the match because it’s irrelevant because it cost us the match.

        Inasmuch as this has been the most fun season to date, it’s a team that has produced no silverware, playoff wins, or regional tournament appearances that also took a backslide into last year’s ‘one and done’ playoff appearance in the Bronx.
        If you’re like me and others as I presume that have had season tickets since the first season and attend most matches (I haven’t missed one yet this year including the friendly), it’s a tiring pattern. The team has to get something to show for a season’s efforts sometimes and it’s not being a tough taskmaster to set expectations for that.
        We will get at least one home playoff game this time, but frankly nobody remembers playoff teams that don’t make the MLS Cup, and other teams make the playoffs regularly. We are in a major city market and that makes it even less acceptable.
        To me, I’d like to see a CCL qualification that we can very clearly do this year and/or go deep in the playoffs thanks in part to good seeding. Dropping key matches at the end that injure those chances just doesn’t cut it and deserves special thumbs down.
        I’ll of course be very forgiving if they get the job done in the next 3 matches. 🙂

      • I agree that Blake deserves a poor rating for this match. 2 may even be too high as he looked shaky at other times as well. I was just saying that I don’t think it is right to penalize the entire team in the ratings for that one gaff. There are other things to penalize them for like the inability to score.
        And yes, I have been a season ticket holder from day one (literally as I put down my deposit within minutes of the announcement of the team finishing). I did miss the Atlanta game as I was away over Labor Day weekend but very rarely miss games.

  3. Ratings aside, I think the bigger problems are:

    1) teams have figured out they can sit deep to take away the ball over the top and we cant break down a bunkered D.
    2) teams have figured out they can ignore Gaddis and double Monteiro
    3) teams have figured out that Gaddis is where our O goes to die, so are pushing the ball that direction.

    We need to figure out what to do about that before playoffs.

    I guess the 3 ways to do that are taking players on with the dribble, passing in tight spaces and lots of movement. Problem with that our old guys can operate in tight spaces but don’t move a lot. Our young guys can take guys on dribble and move, but not operate in tight spaces.

    What do you guys think?
    Assuming a tightly spaced, deeply bunkered team, what is the right formation and who fills the spots?

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