Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 3 – 3 Chicago Fire

Photo credit: Paul Rudderow

When the lineup first came out for Saturday night’s game against Chicago, it was obvious head coach Jim Curtin expected an easy game. It was full of fresh players, some of them making their Union debut, some of them coming back from injury. And facing a team like Chicago, struggling to find their way all the way at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, it was a reasonable expectation.

But an early and improbable own goal changed that. It was a termendous bout of bad luck, and everything that happened afterwards flowed from that. But there is a significant silver lining here- it made the game matter. It would have been too easy for this experimental lineup to beat the bottom-dwellers, and we still wouldn’t know much about them. But having to chase the game from the second minute, these players were tested in a way Curtin may not have wanted but is far more informative than anticipated walk-in-the-park would have been.

And it’s through that lens that these ratings must be viewed. All told, scoring three goals is a good thing. Getting a road point is a good thing. So while these ratings show obvious room for improvement, it’s important to remember that overall Saturday night was a good one for the Union.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 4

Even when he isn’t wearing an armband, Andre Blake is clearly a leader for this team. Even beyond the usual leadership one expects from any keeper. So while he isn’t solely responsible for any of the goals, he shares some of the blame for his defenders being out of position or missing the players that scored the goals. And that’s before we talk about the areas his own performance was left wanting. Goalkeepers, more than any other position, are judged against themselves. And we’ve seen Blake stop at least one of those goals, and when he did block it he more than once let it bounce into dangerous territory. We know he’s capable of greatness, but this wasn’t it.

Kai Wagner — 6

A return to form for the the German, getting work done despite a banged-up wrist. It wasn’t the excellence we know he’s capable of, but he was hardly the problem Saturday night.

Ethan Findlay — 5

No real standout problems, save a risky foul in the eighteenth minute (which was luckily erased by a Chicago player being offside). But no real standout strengths either. Tanner hasn’t missed much, so no doubt he’s got something to show us, we just haven’t seen it yet.

Jakob Glesnes — 4

You’ve got to give it to him, he only scores dramatically improbable goals. But it wasn’t just the own-goal that brought his score down, unfortunate though it was. What brought it down was the chaos of the back line that lead to all three goals. Glesnes was captain back with Strømsgodset, and with Findlay and Powell still being new to the team it’s not unreasonable to extend some of Blake’s blame down to the player who should have been his second-in-command back there.

Alvas Powell — 5

A bit more calm under pressure than Mbaizo, as to be expected with his experience. But not as courageous on offense, which makes him another player cruelly misused by the early own goal. Much like Findlay it was fine performance, though feel free to interpret “fine” as ambiguously as you please.

Jack Elliott — 5

The “Elliott as D-Mid” is an interesting experiment. And one that makes sense, his height is an asset on offense and his passing ability makes him useful further up field than his usual defensive duties would allow. But he hasn’t figured out how to transition between offensive and defensive roles, so more than once the Union back line was left overwhelmed because they weren’t getting the support they needed from the midfield. But don’t hold it against him, he was put in the most difficult position of any player (save possibly Glesnes) by the Fire’s early goal. And if his previous tenure with the Union is any guide, he’ll learn from this and become a better, more versatile player as a result.

Leon Flach — 6

Flach hasn’t faltered since he first impressed us this spring, and continues to be tenacious on both sides of the ball in exactly the way you need a midfielder to be. But he was supposed to be covering Boris Sekulić in the fifty sixth minute, but he let the Slovak get away from him leading to the goal.

Quinn Sullivan — 8

I have a few concerns about Quinn Sullivan. His handles need work, and he was ball-chasing when he should have been marking a Chicago player more than once in the first half. But the biggest worry I have is that he may have set his standards unreasonably high since his first union goal was a bicycle kick.

Jamiro Monteiro — 7

What can be said that hasn’t been said before? Monteiro is very good, and the Union are lucky to have a player able to pick apart a game like Jamiro can. His reactions and running broke up a Fire storm multiple times on Saturday night, and his shot in the eighty fifth would have been a game-winner were the keeper less able than Bobby Shuttleworth.

Sergio Santos — 5

Santos was in the mix, but never stood out. Could be that he just wasn’t connecting with the youth movement in the midfield, could be he’s just going through a cold spell. He’ll need to work out of it shortly, but there’s no reason to think he won’t.

Cory Burke — 7

One of the values of having three players to fill two spots is it allows Jim Curtin to choose his strikers to match the opposition. And Cory Burke matched Chicago perfectly. Early in the first half he was putting a lot of pressure on Chicago, essential for keeping their defense pinned back and giving the Union defense time to regroup after Glesnes’ own goal. And while his goal (the one that counted) wasn’t particularly spectacular, it was a result of smart timing and good positioning. And really that’s more than half the battle.

Substitutes

Dániel Gazdag (for Sullivan in the sixty first) — 7

Bonus points here for just coming back from injury, not yet fully integrated with the team, and yet still anticipating the runs his teammates will make and connecting reliably. And covering so much of the field? Occasionally European signings will come to MLS with a chip on their shoulder, unwilling to put in the work for a league that is “beneath” them. Clearly Gazdag is not one of those players.

Kacper Przybyłko (for Santos in the sixty first) — 5

Despite the fact that it was his shot that tied the game, he needed a lot of help from Sekulić to do that. But other than that fortuitous moment, he continues to be a disappointment with his feet. Don’t get it twisted, his head keeps him in the lineup against teams Cory Burke doesn’t have a supernatural scoring ability against. But his regular mis-fires are what keeps him from being an elite striker in this league.

Olivier Mbaizo (for Powell in the sixty first) — 6

We didn’t see anything new from Mbaizo this shift. Which isn’t a bad thing, but at some point he’s going to have to take a next step.

Matt Real (for Leon Flach in the ninetieth) — Pass

Not much to say about a stoppage-time substitute who was as much about running down the clock as fortifying the defense to see out the result.

Geiger Counter

Fotis Bazakos — 4

Video Assistant Referees exist, and refereeing has changed because of it. Before VAR, I could forgive some of the borderline calls Foitis Bazakos made, maybe he didn’t see it quite well enough to make a definative choice. But with Alejandro Mariscal up in the VAR booth reviewing tape, there was plenty of evidence that some calls were wrong, in both directions. Either Bazakos needs to trust VAR more, or Mariscal needs to be more assertive when telling the center ref that he got it wrong. Either way, the call was inconsistent, and that won’t do.

Player of the Game

Quinn Sullivan

He came to the team with an interesting backstory even before his first professional minute. But if that bike is any sign of how the next chapter of that story is going to be, there’s plenty to look forward to.

7 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Way to high for Bazakos. This was probably the most inconsistent job we’ve seen all season, especially with regard to which fouls should be yellow cards and which shouldn’t.
    .
    Also a bit high for Mbaizo as I believe he lost his man on one of the goals.
    .
    And one correction to the names. Ethan Finlay plays for Minnesota. Stuart Findlay plays for the Union.

  2. Barry Evans says:

    Who is Ethan Findlay?

  3. Findlay should be a point higher, 1/2 point because he showed me speed chasing players I didn’t think he had, and 1/2 point because you got his name wrong.
    Burke needs to be dropped a point because of the awful decisions he made in the last 10 minutes when he had the ball.

  4. I believe that Burke’s goal was more beauty than spectacle but I just adored it. One (admittedly optimistic) touch from Glesnes, one touch to finish.

    No es una chilena, no, pero muy bonito

  5. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Mbaizo has improved every game, and I’d argue that’s the next step already. Given his experience level I’m not sure what more people want from him. He’s an upgrade offensively and had gigantic shoes to fill defensively and has managed to hold his own.
    .
    I think Findlay’s debut went well, and ideally it means Elliott can get some well earned rest.
    .
    To me Powell struggled and deserves a lower score, but I’m sure he’ll improve as the season progresses.

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