Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 4-3 New York Red Bulls

Photo credit: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union exorcised their playoff demons and defeated the New York Red Bulls 4-3 at Talen Energy Stadium. Despite a difficult performance from Andre Blake, the Union dug deep and were worthy winners over their nearest rivals.

Sergio Santos, Fafa Picault, and Alejandro Bedoya had particularly strong performances as Philadelphia stormed back from 3-1 to win. When the lineup came out and Kacper Przybylko was not able to feature, many of us worried where the goals would come from. But a team effort from Philly saw goals from a winger, two midfielders and a defender.

The Union will have a chance now to go on the road against the defending MLS Champions when they travel to Atlanta on Thursday.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 1

The Union overcame one of the worst performances of Blake’s career to defeat New York. Blake should have stopped Josh Sims’ opener and then flapped at two crosses that resulted in Red Bull’s goals.

Kai Wagner – 7

Sort of quiet night for Wagner operating down the left. Was a little slow to come out to Sims on his goal and was beat again when Barlow rang a shot off the crossbar in the first half. But he was his industrious self as the game wore on, making runs and creating space.

Jack Elliott – 8

Poor giveaway that led to the Red Bull’s first goal, trying to play out of the back. Redeemed himself with a big goal just after halftime that cut the New York lead to one. Added seven recoveries and 11 clearances with some strong defensive play as the match wore on.

Mark McKenzie – 8

McKenzie put in a strong shift and finished with 10 recoveries and two clearances. Came up with one of the biggest defensive plays of the game when he came back to knock the ball away twice after Blake turned it over late in the second half.

Ray Gaddis – 8

Strong performance from the right back, who defended stoutly and offered more going forward than we are accustomed to.

Haris Medunjanin – 7

Medunjanin finished with a team high 16 recoveries operating in the middle of the pitch. We also saw the midfielder take some shots from distance, with mixed results, but it’s something that many have been craving all season.

Alejandro Bedoya – 9

Bedoya played through his quad injury and put in one of his strongest performances of the season. His goal was crucial in getting the Union going in the first half after falling behind 2-0. Finished with 14 recoveries and two key passes. It was a huge performance from the captain.

Jamiro Monteiro – 7

Quiet, but solid performance from Monteiro. Showed up all over the pitch and combined well for the Union in possession.

Brenden Aaronson – 6

Did a ton of running and led the press for much of his time on the pitch. It was a good performance for the youngster everywhere but the final third, where he had some fantastic opportunities to shoot but took an extra touch twice and the chances went begging.

Andrew Wooten – 3

Poor performance from Wooten, who hardly got himself involved. Only completed six passes on the night and his only shot was blocked. Doubtful we’ll see him from the start in Atlanta.

Sergio Santos – 8

Tireless effort from Santos. Long and Parker probably had nightmares of Santos chasing after them. I loved Santos just absolutely chucking Parker to the ground as they chased a 50-50 ball in the second half. Had three recoveries, all in the offensive third. Rightfully rewarded with an assist for his lovely floated cross on Picault’s goal.


Ilsinho – 7

It wasn’t a repeat of the “Ilsinho game” from earlier in the season, but the Brazilian came on and spread out the field and allowed his teammates to find room to operate. He only missed out on three passes after coming on the pitch, while completing close to 30.

Fafa Picault – 8

Fantastic stuff from Picault off the bench. He absolutely posterized Parker on his goal with a great leap and a powerful header. Only denied a winner by a superb save from Robles deep into stoppage time. Great work to keep the ball alive in the build up to Fabian’s goal.

Marco Fabian – 8

Simply put, he scored the biggest goal in Union history to this point. Was it a shot? Was it deflected? Who cares? I think Fabian finished with about a half dozen nutmegs as well. He’ll also have the notoriety of having the most elaborate goal celebration for a goal that was waved off.

Warren Creavalle – 7

Just a cameo for Creavalle who played the last ten minutes. Typical Creavalle performance of hustle and grit.

Man of the match – Alejandro Bedoya

Plenty of arguments to be made for Picault, but I’ll take Bedoya after that performance. The captain bossed the midfield, came up with a crucial goal, and left everything on the pitch for his club.

Geiger Counter

Chris Penso – 2

His named was chanted (unfavorably) by the crowd a number of times and not wrongly. Failed to go to review for at least three different handballs in or near the New York box. But overall, had little grasp on the pace of the game and many will be happy not to see him again this year.


  1. I would downgrade McKenzie a bit for his poor passing out of the back. Into at least the middle of the second half it seemed like every forward pass he attempted was intercepted. That is only counting passes on the ground, not the lofted 50/50 balls he was attempting as well. Did he do better after that time. Don’t know, didn’t notice. Maybe?? Too wrapped up in the drama. I do agree that he was solid breaking up plays.

  2. Biggest shame of the season might be not having Santos more fit. That man is a baller. He put in some phenomenal balls in the box that I think should have netted him a few assists. He’s big, lots of pace and a ton of quality. I want to see him again in Atlanta and hope he’s with the team next season.

    If only Fafa could score goals with his feet when he gets the chance….

    Wooten will want to forget his performance.

  3. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I think Brenden is too low, and I think Fafa barely gets MotM. But all in all, great analysis.

  4. I’d have put Fafa as MOTM. His energy and pace really supercharged the attack and changed the game for me. Ray and Alejandro tied for 2nd.

    How about Ray, though? He might have made more positive contributions in the attack in these 120 minutes than he did the entire rest of the season. He actually made a concerted effort to take the space teams are generally happy to concede to him and did something with it. And he played almost flawlessly in the defense. What a game from the kid.

  5. Blake will re-emerge with a monster performance Thursday. I wish Curtain hadn’t mentioned they were playing with house money now. It almost sounded like he was conceding in a way, like we won the first playoff game and that might be good enough.

    • I agree totally about Blake. I bet he’s gonna give Josef fits on Thursday.

      Jim’s comment is just an attempt to take the pressure off his guys and place it on Atlanta’s head. Where it properly belongs.

      • O captain my captain crunch is gone says:

        I hope you guys are right about Blake. He was one of the few reliable player the past few seasons. He’s shown me very little all year. He almost seems content with allowing goals,
        Like it doesn’t bother him. Thursday’s gonna be tough enough playing on that crap surface and Blake can not allow any more soft goals. I think of the last 10 conceded a good goalie stops 5. That one in NY, two against Columbus and 3 vs the Red Bull’s at home. Dude needs to get his shit together! He’s got about 48 hours to do it. GO U!!!!!

  6. I think a bunch of these ratings are too high, reflecting the inflation that almost always happens when the team wins.

    Wagner certainly played well overall, but I think giving him a 7 is a stretch when he was partially at fault for one goal and one near-goal. I love me some Jack Elliott, but an 8 is too high. Mackenzie also had a decent but not great game. All 3 of these should be a point lower.

    Bedoya was fantastic, but I give him an 8, and Ray Gaddis is my Man of the Match for a host of contributions that didn’t show up on the scoresheet. Medunjanin deserves no better than a 5 for his many errant passes, several of which give NY possession in really good position. Plus, he is largely responsible for that first goal if you look at the video and do the analysis. Santos played very well, and Ilsinho pretty well, but each should be a point lower, as should Wooten, who was invisible.

    There is almost always rating deflation when the team loses, and rating inflation when the team wins.

    • agreed. the first half was poor by almost all. truly frustrating effort. a point or two knocked down across the board is a fair score. “great job bailing yourselves out, boys” doesn’t scream 8s.

  7. Been letting this idea percolate on the intellectual stove for a bit.
    Individual ratings. Important. Worthwhile. And incomplete. Because soccer is a team game. The back four work as a team within the team. The midfield works within the team as a team. And while the strikers are highly individualistic at times in the attack, on defense they are essential as the initiators of what everyone else will try to be doing.
    Don’t for one second stop doing individual ratings. but add a rating for the teamwork of each of the three lines and for the overall team as a whole, and for each of those subsets consider them offensively and consider them defensively.
    I still smile when I see Adam Cann where he belongs, making his living analyzing soccer for a professional club. But I do miss him telling us how the Union went from a poor performance defending in the first half to pitching a shutout in the second.
    We all saw the greater intensity and focus, but what else was there? There were individuals, but there were also subgroups and an overall group.

    • When we look back on 2019, and comment on all the changes like Tanner and Santos and Fabian, that added up to winning season, please let’s not forget when union FO finally listened to commentators here and hired phillysoccerpage’s amazing tactical tutor, Adam.
      Kudos Adam for your part in Sunday’s victory.

  8. I know there has been a lot of praise for Gaddis but he definitely made some significant mistakes including some poor passes and a lazy clearance over the end line after a NJ throw in which ultimately led to the second goal. Yes, the Blake misplayed it, but if Gaddis had turned and kicked it upfield, Blake would not have been in that position.
    The other thing I noticed was that you are vastly overrating Penso. A perfect example of his incompetence was the Monteiro yellow card. Immediately before that play, one of the NJ players kicked out at Medujanin while the NJ player was on the ground. He made no contact with the ball but did make contact with Haris causing Haris to lose the ball, leading directly to a shot. That play, despite being worse that what Monteiro got a card for, didn’t even get called a foul. Now, if the Union win Thursday night, Monteiro would be out of the conference finals if he picks up another yellow.

    • Been thinking for a while that a pair of officials should review matches afterwards. If they both agree a clear mistake was made, they should be able to remove (or in a particularly egregious case even add) a yellow or red card. Granted it wont affect that particular game, but it could affect the next one. Players would also learn that “getting away with one” during the game may still get them into trouble later.
      The league could also then keep track of the corrections to rate the officials.

      • Love this idea.

      • Theoretically that is what DisCo (MLS Disciplinary Committee) does. I think they ditched handing out post-game yellows, but they will certainly suspend players or fine them. They’ll catch something the ref misses in the game from time to time.

    • Oh no…basking in the afterglow of that Sunday Funday allowed me to take my mind completely off the yellow card situation. Thanks for stoking my nightmares. Could you imagine? Overcoming Atlanta in a road playoff game, only to lose one (or more) of the guys that made it happen. Yellow card accumulation is one of my least favorite parts of tournament soccer. I don’t have a better answer, but it still nags at me when it crops up.

  9. Ratings are overall too high, with the exception of Ale, Gaddis, and Picault. This was a really poor performance that goes to show good fortune / bounces are part of the game. I was going nuts for the team and inherently knew they were going to get the 3rd and 4th goals. Still, I watched a game in which the New Jersey Pink Cows got lazy and arrogant. Greatest game I’ve been to in 5 years, but even have to wonder if Dre’s horrific half really isn’t a reflection of how awful his defense was. First goal, Wagner so over committed to the left side of a right footed player, I was surprised Dre even got a hand on it. Second goal is all on Dre, but how did they get that corner? Finally, several months ago I remember Trusty jumping into Dre’s attempted catches and people going nuts on Trusty. Now Mackenzie does it and it is Dre’s fault.

    We will beat Atlanta because we figured out that playoffs are FUN and because the team will come out of its month long funk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: