Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Columbus Crew 0-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

The Philadelphia Union were tested in their first game of the 2021 MLS season, traveling to Columbus to face the reigning MLS Cup champions, the Crew. Factoring in that both teams were coming off midweek Champions League matches this early in the season, it was the perfect storm for a cagey and chippy season opener.

Player Ratings

Andre Blake – 7

Made a few good saves, though most of Columbus’ shots were directly at him. Made an amazing save in the 83rd minute to keep it even. Kept a clean sheet the first game of the year on the road, not much to complain about.

Olivier Mbazio – 4

Wasn’t able to help much offensively in this outing, had some bad touches and lost possession too many times. Columbus drove the attack down his side of field, able to defend well on most.

Jakob Glesnes – 5

A little loose on passes out of the back, chemistry isn’t there yet. Wasn’t really tested much by the Columbus attack, but another clean sheet.

Jack Elliott – 5

Similar outing to Glesnes, no glaring defensive mistakes and held a clean sheet. Needs to get more of those set piece corners on frame.

Kai Wagner – 6

Wasn’t as noticeable helping drive the offense as he usually is, but shut down most of the Columbus’ attacks down the left. Had a few good corners in and helped get in the Crew’s head with his physicality.

Jose Martinez – 6

Got caught a few times in possession in the first half due to the Crew press, but was much better passing in the second half. Wasn’t really needed to put out defensive fires and brought his usual physicality.

Alejandro Bedoya – 6

Had some trouble driving the offense in the first half, but was still all over the field. Had a few nice shots, one off the post and the other drawing a save by Eloy Room from distance.

Jamiro Monteiro – 6

Had trouble finding the game in the first half, like his teammates. Drove the offense the last 25 minutes of the match. Physicality seemed to get him going again.

Leon Flach– 6

Nothing flashy from Flach on the day, but put in some good tackles in the midfield and provided an option on offense. Still needs to work on chemistry on the left with Wagner.

Anthony Fontana – 4

Struggled to find the game and rarely got a touch on the ball. Still playing out of position due to injuries but was a deserved sub around the 60 minute mark.

Kacper Przybylko – 5

Also struggled to find the game until the 65 minute mark. Made some good passes around the box, just couldn’t find any looks on goal.


Sergio Santos – 6

Brought the offense to life with his introduction around the 60th minute. Made good runs and put some shots on goal to test Room in his 30 minute stint.

Player of the Match – Andre Blake

Had easy saves for the most part, until that big reaction save around the 80 minute mark. Another clean sheet for Blake after keeping two in Champions League.

Geiger Counter

Ramy Touchan– 4

Let play roll for the most part in the first half, gave a penalty on the Glesnes tackle, that was correctly overturned. Lost control a bit in the second half and became inconsistent with fouls and cards.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    I would probably knock Bedoya and Santos down a point for taking needless yellows, especially Bedoya who has a history of doing that and ultimately ending up suspended a couple of times for accumulation.
    There was also one time in the second half where I think we saw the difference between Glesnes and McKenzie. It was a play where Glesnes was under pressure and kicked it over the end line for a corner kick. In similar situations we’ve seen McKenzie get the correct angle and play it out over the sideline for a throw-in instead.
    Giving everyone except Blake a score between 4 and 6 makes complete sense.

  2. Chris Gibbons says:

    Nice to see Bedoya and Flach let fly from 25+ yards. They don’t need to even score any of those before it starts to get into defender’s heads they should step in the future. That will make space for Fontana (and, poor kid, he finally gets his chance and they play him out of position).

    • I’m curious to know who gives way when Sergio Santos comes back to the starting line up. I imagine Santos is just being eased in for a little and will soon be starting up top alongside Przybylko. The two obvious alternatives seem to be Fontana going to the bench or Flach going to the bench while Fontana ends up at the 10 in the reshuffle.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        Great question. A week ago, I would have said Flach. Today I’d probably say Fontana. I guess that’s a good problem to have.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        The answer to the excellent question for the next few weeks will depend on the frequency of games, and the conditioning levels of the three players involved.
        There are midweek games for the next two weeks, in addition to ones on the weekend, so these three will not be the only midfielders in need of some mileage reductions.
        Fontana’s game fitness is as advanced as anyone’s, so he will probably be Mr. Versatile. He will combine with Santos while Santos works towards 90 minutes, and recall that Santos needed 2nd half subs more than Przybylko last year when both were healthy. And right now there are no other options with Burke still recovering and de Vries – rightly give his age – being handled cautiously in the concussion protocol.
        Flach is new to the program and only 20. He went the full match in Columbus, presumably under the principle that if it ai’n’t broke don’t fix it. We have no idea if he is ready to 90-90-90-90 in the space of two weeks. Probably Fontana is not the top choice to replace him ideally given the points made above. de Vries would probably be that if available, then turner if we are ahead, then McGlynn if the issue is no longer in doubt or the opponent seems lesser in that matchup.
        Their pressing covered more ground more quickly with Monteiro at the 10, in all three matches. Unless the side channel midfield matchup overwhelmingly indicates it needs Monteiro to defend it – e.g., Nani of Orlando? – I would leave him in the center, especially once de Vries is healthy.
        It will be fun to see how wrong the technical staff thinks I am in these guesses.

      • I think Fontana spent so much of this offseason concentrating on what his role as the 10 would be
        This role change is something he’s still catching up to
        I wouldn’t be surprised to see Flach over Fontana, The Electric Ant has been fairly invisible

  3. Mbaizo rating is harsh. He was no worse than the rest of the team in terms of bad touches and losing possession. Although they came down his side more, he was still part of a back line that kept a clean sheet on the road. I also think it’s somewhat unfair to knock a defender’s rating down when they don’t contribute offensively as opposed to missing chances. Sort of like criticizing a short stop for not hitting enough home runs. Otherwise I am good with the ratings.

  4. Not sure Fontana is playing out of position due to injuries. Going forward, if Santos is going to start, do you move Fontana or pull him? Monteiro is playing the ACM position, because Flach is playing Monteiro’s LMF position. I think Curtin will play Santos and sit Fontana, but that might be harsh. Not having a great game on the road in Columbus is not a great reason to sit someone. Things are going too well to sit Flach and move Monteiro back. Actually rotating players is just crazy talk

    • At first I thought it was clear the preferred XI would be Santos at striker and Fontana at 10 and Monteiro back at 8. But after Curtins effusive praise, I think you have it right and Fontana will find himself on the bench again.

      I don’t totally hate it, but I still like Monteiro at the 8 more and think Fontana can actually be productive at the 10. I think having someone with his goal sense at the 10 will make our attack more dangerous and open things up for everyone else

      Alternatively, this means we have tactical options now! For tougher teams we can put Flach at the 8 and Monteiro at the 10, but for weaker teams we can go Monteiro at the 8 and Fontana at the 10.

      • * effusive praise for Flach (what happened to the edit button 🙁 )

      • Yeah, I’ve missed the edit button. 🙂

      • Could also change when looking for an equalizer to a 4-2-2-2 with both fontana an jamiro playing the 10 behind 2 strikers. (Like what RB Salzburg plays normally.)

      • Edit button was removed because the plugin we used was acting up. It looks like it has been updated so I’ll reactivate it.

  5. We had a clean sheet…on the road…against the reigning champs. I say let’s show tge CBs some loce. Elliot and Glesnes deserve more than a 5.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Columbus’s pace threatened the back line a bit more than did Saprissa’s, especially until Díaz was subbed off,
      Díaz meant the CBs had to be careful of his channel if the Union fullback was forward.
      McKenzie’s pace is missed. We have not yet learned whether Stuart Findlay can match it. I would expect Findlay to be called upon when the opposition has a real burner in the attack.

    • Agree with Ingtar. Zardes was largely invisible in this match. Don’t Jack & Jacob deserve some love for that?? 6s at least, maybe higher. And Mbaizo too.

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