Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 1-0 New York Red Bulls

Photo: Stephen Speer

A win is a win, and that’s really all that matters. But that doesn’t mean that when a team wins there’s nothing but positive things to say about said team.

Which is exactly where we find ourselves after the Union won their first-round MLS Cup Playoffs game against the visiting New York Red Bulls. The game was…not great. The Union offense looked toothless, which isn’t exactly the end of the world considering that the Red Bulls only made the playoffs on the strength of their defense. But the opposition will only get more challenging from here, and the Union can’t always count on a last-minute-of-extra-stoppage-time-goal from one of their center backs to save the day.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 7

With just one shot on target from the Red Bulls, not much was asked of Blake on Saturday night. Though it was interesting seeing him take a more aggressive, Neuer-esque presence when the Union were on the attack.

Kai Wagner — 7

The German plays better when he’s not pinned back covering for his counterpart on the other side of the defense. And the Union play better when he’s playing better. Balancing this with Mbaizo’s unquestioned offensive contributions is probably the biggest decision facing Jim Curtin ahead of their next playoff match, against the winner of Tuesday’s Nashville/Orlando matchup.

Jack Elliott — 6

Didn’t do anything wrong, but with the ball spending most of its time at the other end of the field not much was asked of him either.

Jakob Glesnes — 8

Like his counterpart, it was a mostly quiet game for the Norwegian as Red Bull’s attack was as toothless as it ever was this season. Emphasis on the “mostly” there, because scoring another improbable goal from well outside the box would be remarkable in its own right, even if it hadn’t been the game-winning goal scored in the final moments of extra time.

Alvas Powell — 8

This season, right back for the Union has looked like a position where the presumptive starter withdrew from the team mere moments before spring training. Which is true, but if Powell has been capable of this level of performance, why did we need to wait for Olivier Mbaizo to get protocoled to see it?

José Martínez — 6

Like Elliott’s low score, it’s not so much that he did anything wrong so much as he didn’t have much opportunity to do much right. With much of the game happening at the other end of the field, El Brujo’s influence was curtailed.

Leon Flach — 6

There wasn’t anything here that we haven’t already seen from the German-American. That means there was clever passing, great speed, and occasionally psychic interceptions. But as is too often the case for Flach this season, it was also largely fruitless and failed to ever really result in a tangible positive for the Union.

Alejandro Bedoya — 5

At this point in his career he’s no longer delivering one of the boxes in his “box to box midfielder” designation. Defensively he’s as sharp and reliable as he’s ever been, but his offensive contributions are becoming increasingly rare. It’s time the gameday roster reflected that.

Paxten Aaronson — 6

Great work from the young midfielder, who showed great confidence under pressure and a great read on the game. His age did show on occasion though, as in the fifty seventh minute when he took a chancy shot from outside the box while multiple teammates were open.

Daniel Gazdag — 5

The whole Union organization would be elevated by the addition of a DP striker worthy of the designation, and Daniel Gazdag could benefit more than most if that were to happen. It would give the Hungarian somewhere to direct his crosses and help draw defenders away from him, unlocking whole other aspects of his game. But, as it is, he’s just not the type of player that’s going to single-handedly take the Union on his back and make the offense a threat, and his score suffers because of it.

Kacper Przybyłko — 5

That shot in the eightieth minute is going to haunt him. And yet that was his most significant impact on the game as the Union’s formation and Red Bull defense made him a non-factor for most of his eighty six minutes on the field.


Sergio Santos (for Aaronson in the sixty-first) — 7

Santos brought some much-needed energy to the offense, spreading out the defense and bringing spark to what had been a listless attack.

Cory Burke (for Przybyłko in the eighty-sixth) — 7

Similarly, the Jamaican energized the Union in a way that was desperately needed. He was so close to being the hero in the one hundred nineteenth, but a deflection sent it wide making penalty kicks appear inevitable.

Jack McGlynn (for Flach in the eighty-sixth) — 6

Not a bad performance, but not a good one either. If you’re going to be a late offensive sub in a game begging for a goal, you need to be more involved in the attack than the player you’re replacing.

Jesús Bueno (for Bedoya in the one hundred tenth) — Pass

Short minutes so not a lot to talk about, but the Venezuelan did not look ready for the physicality that is inevitable when Philadelphia plays Red Bull.

Geiger Counter

Fotis Bazakos — 7

It’s not often you see an official let two physical teams get physical without letting the game get out of hand. And for the most part, Fotis Bazakos did that. Granted there are a few calls fans of either team may take issue with, but, really, when isn’t that the case?

Player of the Game – Jakob Glesnes

Alvas Powell was the front-runner for the honors, at least until the end of extra time. Because at the end of the day it was Jakob Glesnes who turned two hours of not-great soccer into a night that will be remembered fondly. At least by Union fans.


  1. IDK… I think a little harsh on Bedoya and a little generous with Kacper….
    Bedoya is a pure leader, and I think he performed especially well on Sat bringing alot of intangibles to the side.
    Kacper, I think I’m done with him.. I agree with all the discussions about his numbers not being really that bad this year.. but good god, a striker needs to strike once in a while… too many missed sitters this year. He should have ended the game and Santos should have a well earned assist.

    • What this team needs to take the next step is tangibles, and that’s not something Bedoya was offering on the field on Saturday. Intangibles can keep a guy on the roster, but it can’t be the only reason they’re playing every minute of every game.

  2. Przybyłko’s rating, just like his shot on goal, is much too high.

  3. The cynic in me says Powells performance was a showcase to get him his next contract. (Either here or elsewhere).

  4. Vince Devine says:

    Did you watch the game? Your comments sound like totally controlled the game. I think a 120 minute shutout warrants better grades for our center backs, DM, and GK. NYRB did have 55% possession. And anything over a 4 for Kacper is too high. In addition to missing a sitter, he was clumsy with the ball all night.

    • The Bulls had 55% possession, but it was primarily lateral passes with very little advancing the ball. That’s the midfield and outside backs doing defensive work, more than the center backs. Anyone watching the game would have seen most of New York’s possession breaking down well before it threatened the Union goal, and the stats confirm the eye test here.

      As a result there wasn’t much asked of Elliott or Blake, or Glesnes really. He would have had a similarly unremarkable score were in not for the wundergoal.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        The Union dominated this game. Possession is irrelevant in soccer, especially given the Union’s style. If anything, that the Red Bulls had the ball a lot should tell you that they couldn’t impose their will on the game – they don’t want the ball either.

  5. I’m thinking Powell was graded somewhat on a curve as he had a good game but not a great one. And given that had Bedoya as their man of the match and PSP has him tied as the lowest ranked player on the team there is a bit of a disconnect.

    • I don’t know if I’d call it a curve, but I definitely have a habit of grading players against themselves. Powell certainly benefited from that, and Bedoya suffered.

  6. The game really showed how much we miss and will miss Miro if he goes in the off-season. Powell was a nice surprise, much more vertical than Mbaizo but missing those killer crosses.

    What a game!!

    • I have a feeling we are going to see more out of Gazdag next season after he’s had a couple of months off and a chance to train with the team. Combine that with another year’s maturity for Aaronson and they might not miss Miro as much as you think.

  7. Danny Higgenbotham highlighted the main problem with Przybylko. He’s far too often sucked back into the midfield and is too frequently not an option for a cross when it counts. Part of that, too, is that he doesn’t have the pace. I’m sure his tracking back quality is a big part of what makes him Curtin’s favorite striker on the squad. He’s still the best finisher on our squad (who’s not a center back), but he needs to be able to work higher up the pitch and get service. And agree — that open sitter in the 80th is going to be with him for a while.

  8. The strikers all way too high. How many sitters did they miss?

    • I was at the game but I also recorded it. I would like to give Danny Higgenbotham a 9 for his description of Glesnes during the replay of the goal.”Glesnes take a bow” indeed.

  9. Midfield grades all too low. They bossed the game and allowed the fullbacks to have space.
    Powell’s performance was a mature one, not a great one. Gazdag was poor, my section was irate when Aaronson was replaced instead of him.
    We need a playmaker, badly.

  10. Vince Devine says:

    Bedoya was probably the best player on the pitch!

  11. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I disagree with a lot of these. As mentioned above the back 5 deserves credit, and Bedoya was everywhere. He’s clearly nearing his end and he still delivers his best games when it matters most. Kacper was terrible, Burke missed a few chances and 7 seems quite high. Aaronson was the most dangerous on the field until he was subbed off.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Also I’m starting to think Santos is becoming Fafa Picault, which is a compliment to his tireless running and stretching the field, but he needs to start finishing his chances more.

  12. Bedoya looks gassed, but we need him to take things forward.

Leave a Reply

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


%d bloggers like this: