CONCACAF Champions League / Player ratings

Player ratings: Deportivo Saprissa 0-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo courtesy Concacaf

The first match of the year is always interesting, isn’t it? The Union started off well on the road in Costa Rica against Deportivo Saprissa and got a first half goal to show for it. Then the second half came, which tested the Union’s early fitness levels and became peak Concacaf as the match got more hostile and frustrations grew.

Unto the ratings….

Player Ratings

Andre Blake – 6

Not much for Blake to do on the night with Saprissa notching very few shots on goal. Gave him an extra point for being warned for time wasting in the 55th minute.

Olivier Mbazio – 7

Mbazio still struggles some offensively, giving the ball away too easily occasionally. Had a beautiful cross to Kacper Przybylko to set up the only goal. Made nice recovery runs in the second half.

Jakob Glesnes – 7

Gets an extra point for being in the first into the end of game scrum. Wasn’t really tested by Saprissa, but did lose Kendall Waston once which luckily went wide.

Jack Elliott – 7

Was also in a dead sprint into the corner after Kai Wagner was almost killed. Like Glesnes was not tested much during the match. Did enough to leave Costa Rica with a clean sheet.

Kai Wagner – 8

Got up into the attack well and also had the key goal line clearance from a Saprissa corner. Recovered defensively in the second half in the heat, and somehow wasn’t hurt at the end.

Jose Martinez – 9

After being injured during preseason, El Brujo looked like a man on a mission. Up to his usual duties of putting out fires and picking up loose balls, also showed some skill with some nice nutmegs.

Alejandro Bedoya – 9

Helped create the Union goal while barely even touching the ball thanks to his movement. Linked passes well up to Przybylko and Fontana and was all over the field. A very effective outing for the captain.

Jamiro Monteiro – 7

Not playing in his favorite position, still a solid outing for Monteiro. Made some good runs and recovered defensively despite being in an attacking position.

Leon Flach– 8

Got an extra point for making his debut on the road in Champions League. Very effective in the press, much like Brenden Aaronson last year. Made some good runs and passes into attackers, play style reminds me of a younger Bedoya.

Anthony Fontana – 5

Not much to go off of for Fontana, linked up with the midfield on occasion, but also missed some passes to Przybylko and could’ve made some more runs. Still more effective at the No.10.

Kacper Przybylko – 7

Kacper got the first Champions League goal in club history, even though he was wide open with a free header. A good sign for the Union that he’s scoring in the first game, especially with all the striker injuries.


Matt Real – 6

Had the bad tackle which earned him a yellow, let frustration get to him. Liked him as a midfielder, thinks like a defender but is fast and skilled enough to help out in the attack.

Quinn Sullivan – N/A

A brief cameo debut for Quinn, didn’t get much time but good to see him and a few of the other homegrowns on the bench. The only other healthy striker on the roster.

Player of the Match – Alejandro Bedoya

A classic performance for the captain. Didn’t score any goals, but influenced the match so much from midfield, dictating the pace of play and keeping emotions in check for the most part.

Geiger Counter

Ismael Cornejo– 1

Let A LOT of things go, and forgot he brought his cards with him until Matt Real’s tackle. Somehow didn’t send off Blanco for that challenge, lost control of the match well before the last minute horror tackle.


  1. Real’s bad tackle was a well-sent message. The yellow was deserved but it should not punish him in this forum.

    • I agree. I will maintain that at the point the tackle occurred we were on the back foot. Then Real sent his message and things calmed down for a bit, we saw some possession and were able to breath a little bit more.

  2. Vince Devine says:

    Happy for the win, but I think the ratings are 1-2 points high per player across the board.

  3. Miro deserves another point added for being the smallest dude in the thick of the scrum at the end of the game…

  4. It is interesting… when I see a player like Leon Flach… I am inclined to think a kid like him would –never be identified –nor survive, throughout the Union Academy experience.
    Does a bunch of technical things well. Has a good picture of the game but: Not very big. Not very strong. Not very fast.

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Give me that technical, vision and feel for the game. Every time. Very big, very strong and very fast is a gravy, but the aforementioned items are the baseline for me.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I’m curious as to why you think that. The Aaronson kids are not big or strong. They’re quick, but not really fast. I don’t know much about the up and comers, but none of them strike me as physical specimens.

    • Of all things to criticize the Union for, the Academy experience is a weird choice imo. “not very big, not very strong, not very fast” seems to describe both aaronsons, and mcglynn very well. i also dont think anyone is going to compliment Fontanas or Craigs athleticism anytime soon either.

    • Lionel Messi. Not very big. Not very strong. Not very fast (Ok, he is pretty fast…or was)

    • Vince Devine says:

      You just described the Aaronson kids, so I guess you’re incorrect.

      • For every Aaronson there are four players who have been ushered out or not offered spots who have been very technical with excellent vision above and beyond the crop of the corp they have. If you think Brendan and Paxten Matt Real and Anthony Fontana are the rules… I am sad to inform you otherwise. They were the old guard players within that space.
        I was in that building almost every day for nearly 6 years. A kid like Flach doesn’t make it in Ernst Tanner’s setting.

  5. I thought Moro and Jose and Ale were our best players out there. And I thought Flach had a really solid game given that he hasn’t played much with the team.

  6. Not very fast? I saw a couple times he ran across the whole field and got to the ball first-his speed actually stuck out to me on those runs

  7. I think the tackle is why he gets the 6. I don’t think his other interaction deserved above a 5. he certainly doesn’t deserve a 7. I think the tackle sends a message and he did it smart and got away with it.

  8. One thing I think deserves discussion when it comes to the officiating. Had this been played with fans I think this match would have easily gone off the rails. The ref was not strong enough. It would have really tested the Union’s resolve and Blanco’s antics would have intensified. The Union definitely got lucky in the end IMO.

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