Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 2 – 1 D.C. United

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

It was an exciting, counter attacking filled match as Philadelphia and D.C. United renewed their rivalry once again on the banks of the Delaware river. Philadelphia was content to concede possession to United, looking to spring on the counter, leading to their 2 goals. The match then had a 1 hour 30 minute lightning delay, with the last 10 minutes of the match resuming play at 11:20pm local time.

Onto the ratings.

Player Ratings

Joe Bendik – 7

An overall good night for Bendik, who earned his first win in his last 23 starts. Made a terrific save, with help of the crossbar, early and denied a long range effort from Julian Gressel. Didn’t have much of a chance on the penalty, taking away his clean sheet. Still needs work on distribution and corners.

Olivier Mbazio – 6

Not a whole lot of glaring issues for Mbazio on the night, did well getting up into the attack. Linked play well with Bedoya to set up the first Union goal, but still gets caught up field a little too much.

Jakob Glesnes – 6

A strong night for both centerbacks, who didn’t give a lot of open play looks. Glesnes has been stuggling with pressure in the back this season, with one giveaway a game leading to a scoring chance.

Jack Elliott – 7

A strong outing for Elliott, who was composed with the ball and didn’t give any looks at goal. Vital in clearing out D.C’s corners and linking with the midfield.

Kai Wagner – 6

A quiet night for Wagner, who hasn’t been getting involved in attack much this season mostly due to the Union’s propensity to attack on the right. Conversely, nothing came down the left for United as Wagner has become a lockdown defender.

Leon Flach – 7

A good night for Flach, helping get back in transition and link with the forwards. Spotted Sergio Santos’ run and sprung him late in the game to set up the second goal, so gave him a bonus point.

Alejandro Bedoya – 6

I feel like “dirty running and linking passes” should always be in the captain’s performance reviews. Didn’t have many outstanding moments, but all of that dirty work is vital to the side.

Daniel Gazdag – 8

Being generous with Gazdag as he’s played so few minutes with his teammates and went a full 90 minutes after a slight injury suffered in the Euros. Played a great pass to spring Santos for the first goal and made defensive recoveries despite being the attacking midfielder.

Jose Martinez – 6

An early yellow card for Martinez is always a worrying sign, but managed to stay out of trouble the rest of the match. Helped keep the defensive shape and found Flach and Bedoya for counter attacking opportunities.

Kacper Przybylko – 7

A much needed goal for the man up top to seal the win. Prybylko also helped set up Santos’ goal by pulling his defenders out wide and getting space for Santos to run int0

Sergio Santos – 8

Almost a perfect outing for Sergio Santos, who’s been in form since coming on against New York. Gave away a cheap and unnecessary penalty, but took his goal well and put in all the work for Przybylko’s winner.


Quinn Sullivan – N/A

Brought on as a 80th minute sub for Santos, didn’t have much to do in his brief cameo.

Player of the Match – Sergio Santos

An easy choice, opened up the scoring for the Union and assisted the winner while working hard and running throughout the match. Only blemish was giving away the penalty.

Geiger Counter

Alex Chilowicz – 5

An overall alright night for the man with the whistle, most of his VAR reviews were correct, although the Flach penalty decision can be disputed. Gave a lot of yellows in the first half to keep control of the game, which got the message across.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    I think that “blemish” for Santos was big enough to rule him out as player of the game given that there were others who had strong nights. My nod goes to Elliott who really anchored the defense that would have pitched a shutout except for the four base error by Santos.
    Also, Bedoya did have an outstanding moment, the secondary assist on the first goal.
    Mbaizo is an interesting case considering he was called out by Curtin in the postgame press conference for having a relatively poor outing.

    • Was there a post game conference? I did not see anything about it in any of my normal Twitter Feeds people. I assumed it was cancelled or something due to the late finish.

      EDIT: Found some stuff:
      “Olivier has stepped in and done an excellent job. He’s playing at an all-star level this season. Tonight he was casual at times, but overall if you take his whole season he’s deserving of the accolades. We will continue to push him.”

      Personally? He was called out all right but I would say at worst it was a push. “casual at times” is not that bad a criticism, certainly not enough to cancel out “playing at an all-star level this season”

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I think Curtin was saying that Mbaizo had a relatively poor night Saturday while also calling out his upside potential, but I had listened to the press conference Sunday so I may not have remembered it exactly.

    • Re: Mbaizo, I get that he is young, but with everyone healthy, think we might still get our best 11 on the field by pushing Bedoya back to right back and sliding Monteiro over to right mid, with Flach at left mid and Gazdag at attacking mid.
      You are basically trading Flach for Mbazio and combo of Bedoya/Monteiro attacking up right side might be fun to watch.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Can I be there when you ask Bedoya to perma-switch to RB? Haha in all seriousness, I think Mbaizo has Europe potential and just needs time. I’m pretty sure he starts at Cameroon, which is usually one of the better African nations. They value him, and I think in a few months European teams will too. And as for Bedoya, I think his biggest strength is running box to box and making dirty runs. Hard for him to truly play his style while he’s still young enough to do it. When he shows real signs of wearing down, I’m all for it.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Curtin is generally very high on Mbaizo. Before criticizing his performance Saturday, he also mentioned that Mbaizo has all star potential.
        My thought is that as long as everyone stays healthy, they have 5 top level MLS midfielders for 4 spots which means they can do some significant squad rotation. Given 7 games in August, each of the 5 should have at least one where they sit for at least 60 minutes.

      • Tim Jones says:

        in re Bedoya as a right back.
        Mbaizo can run down many outside channel players from behind. Ray Gaddis did so as well.
        Bedoya never had quite that level of pace. He certainly does not have it now.
        If he plays right back, and if he goes forward into the attack the Union would be defending with three for a longer time than they are used to.
        Mbaizo has the pace to be the deep safety on Union offensive corner kicks.
        Finish a game in an emergency with Bedoya at RB, certainly. Convert him permanently? doesn’t fit well with the high pressing high restraining line IMO.

      • Vince Devine says:

        Not a bad idea, I’d rather leave Mbaizo at RB and use some midfield rotation. With all the games coming up rest will be important.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Just saw the replay of the penalty that was overturned by VAR and I think Flach gets the sportsmanship award but hurt his team by his play. He beat his opponent to the ball, jumped over the outstretched leg, and then went down after the jump. He then got right up so wasn’t trying to draw a PK.
    Since there was no contact, its hard to call a foul but if Flach hadn’t jumped, there would have been contact and a legitimate PK.

    • Tim Jones says:

      And he was not an immediate threat to score because he was going away from the goal. No ref is going to give that as a penalty.

      • This. The PK shouldn’t have been called, and play should have been allowed to continue. If VAR felt a review was necessary they would let the ref know. The Union still had the ball in a good attacking position as well.
        That sequence stifled the Union’s momentum for a bit.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Isn’t the rule behind a penalty… if it’s a foul outside the box, it’s a foul inside the box? Clearly a foul was committed, so unless I’m mistaken, it’s a penalty. MLS refs are so inconsistent. The Santos foul at the other end was so similar, a careless foul on the edge of the box. One was called, the other wasn’t.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        JayKoz, from the ref’s original vantage point, he thought there was contact and therefore a foul. Hence he blew the whistle. When he saw it from the other side he realized it was clear and obviously not a foul. If he hadn’t blown the whistle, then VAR would only overturn if it was clearly a foul. The one thing I think he got wrong was that since Flach was the last one to play the ball, the Union should have been given the drop ball.
        In Tanner We Trust, the big difference between the two was that Santos made contact while the DC player did not. Therefore the latter was not a foul anywhere on the pitch. MLS Instant Replay has a clear view (although flop is a poor choice of words since I think Flach was trying to avoid contact rather than trying to go down:

      • My question is why did DC get a free kick after the VAR review? Flach had possession of the ball before the whistle blew. Flach wasn’t disciplined for “flopping”. So why does DC get possession ?

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      And yes I almost forgot to mention: I said to my friend while they were reviewing, “Flach not being a douchebag might cost us a penalty because MLS rewards divers”. Sure enough. Ultimate respect to Flach. Today you’ve got guys like Raheem Sterling who become so fragile the minute they enter the box and Flach had no thought of embellishing the contact he felt.

    • I think it’s worth going back and watching that play over because I don’t know how my takeaway is so different than what I’m seeing in this thread…

      It seemed pretty clear to me after replay (both on the stadium board and later watching on the recorded broadcast) that the DC player poked the ball away and then Flach fell over. Flach also seemed to know that his opponent got the ball, which explains why he jumped right back up instead of looking for the penalty.

      I get that we don’t want this to be the case, but the Santos penalty was a clear penalty and the Flach non-call was clearly not a penalty.

      And for good measure the same was true for the Santos offside goal. This game was a great advertisement for VAR since they got 2 calls right that would’ve drastically altered the game.

      Of course I’d prefer the Union win by even more, but I’m glad that they seem to be getting VAR calls right more often than not and hope that continues in situations when the “close but correct” calls benefit the Union.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I’m pretty sure Flach got the ball and the DC United player didn’t. The trajectory of the ball after the touch is as it would be if it was Flach that played it. The reason it is not a penalty is that there was no contact.
        I agree with your points on VAR. (I had thought Santos was offside when I saw it live from midfield and was surprised not to see the AR’s flag up.)

      • Andy –

        Respect your opinion but disagree. Looking at 0:32 in the video you posted, Moreno (DC #5) pokes in with his left foot in front of Flach with his toe slightly elevated. The ball goes slowly rolling away at exactly the angle that Moreno’s tackle goes in. The slow roll of the ball suggests that since his toe was slightly raised he just scuffed the ball with one or two of his spikes, whereas
        Flach was going for it more with his instep which would have led to a firmer touch and a faster roll.

        Here’s an image of exactly where contact occurs:

  3. Jack Elliott is one of my favorite players on this team, and I think he is hugely underrated by the team as a whole. But people seem to be forgetting that in the first few minutes of this match he made two glaring mistakes, one of which very nearly led to a DC goal. After that he settled down and had an excellent match, as usual.

    And Santos made a couple superb plays to get us 2 goals, but he literally cost us the DC goal, so you cannot give him an 8.

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