MLS / Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes

The Union ran out easy winners against a poor San Jose side in the freezing cold on Saturday night in Chester. Cory Burke tallied from Sergio Santos’ good play and Daniel Gazdag added a cheeky penalty on a night when Philly was dominant and their opponents toothless,

Hard to find too many takeaways from a game in the bitter cold where the pitch didn’t cooperate for much of the evening. But after three matches, the Union remain undefeated, second in the conference, and a team that very much look like they have another gear or two to reach.

Those who showed up in the cold were probably disappointed to see new designated player Mikael Uhre left out on the evening. But we can all hope the knock he picked up is minor and the training staff didn’t want to risk their new striker on a cold night. With Santos and Blake not really lighting things up in terms of finishing chances, the prospect of Uhre and Julian Carranza lining up together is a tantalizing one given the chances created against San Jose.

Player Ratings

Andre Blake – 7

Forced to make just one save on a quiet night between the sticks. Commanded his area well. Was probably counting the days until Jamaica’s home game in World Cup Qualifying.

Nathan Harriel – 7

A few rash challenges aside, another solid night at right back for Harriel. Kept wide and pressured high at good moments.

Jakob Glesnes – 7

Another routinely solid performance for Glesnes on the evening. Kept play in front of him and was rarely troubled by the San Jose attack.

Jack Elliott – 7

Similar to Glesnes, another routinely comfortable match. Outside of the extra touch he took on a foray forward in the first half, little to mention.

Kai Wagner – 7

Better service than we’ve seen in the first two games from Wagner’s left foot. Similar to Harriel, stayed high and wide and rarely found himself out of position.

Jose Martinez – 7

Another game of yeoman like work from Martinez, who covered a ton of ground and allowed little to get past him in the center of the park.

Leon Flach – 7

A quiet night on the left side for Flach, who didn’t have a ton of involvement. But always in the right position and more than willing to make the thankless runs as always.

Alejandro Bedoya – 7

A typical, hardworking performance from the captain. Seemed to tire late on in the cold.

Daniel Gazdag – 7

A solid performance from the midfielder, rewarded with a cheeky panenka penalty finish. Got into some great positions but made some questionable decisions on the ball with the Union having numbers in attack. Has been serviceable through three games, but still seems like he can find another level to influence matches.

Sergio Santos – 4

Did most things you’d want to see from your striker, except score a goal. Had a hatful of great chances, but failed to convert on any of them. In better news, he went 90 minutes in the cold and didn’t get sent off after an early yellow card. Great work and a nice pass on Burke’s opener.

Cory Burke – 6

Good work to get into a position to tap in the opener. Some strong plays to win the ball high up the field, but like Gazdag, made some questionable decisions with the Union attacking with numbers. Two goals in two matches not a bad return for a player that many would think is now lower on the depth chart.


Paxten Aaronson – 6

Did well to circulate the ball when the Union did grab possession, but arrived with the result more or less settled and found himself behind the ball for most of his time on the field.

Quinn Sullivan – 6

Didn’t see much of the ball after replacing Gazdag on 82 minutes.

Matt Real – n/a

Real lives! A short cameo coming on in stoppage time.

Man of the Match – Jose Martinez

A good argument can be made for Gazdag, who did a lot of things right (but whose decision making can still be questioned.) But you don’t get a night where the defense hardly has a thing to do without a terrific performance from your holding midfielder.

Geiger Counter

Victor Rivas – 3

On a night where the pitch does enough to stop-start the match, a referee willing to do the same was unwelcome. And 8 minutes of stoppage time when the game was decided in the 70th minute? C’mon man.


  1. McMohansky says:

    Agree with your MotM but I just don’t get the Santos disrespect. He beautifully set up the winning goal. Of course he should finish off more chances, but he gets those chances primarily through his work rate, positional awareness, and strength.

  2. This game was such an aberration that the only take aways are that the Union won and no one got hurt.

    • Pragmatist says:

      This is exactly correct. Let’s see how they look in minimally-acceptable conditions and then we can evaluate more accurately.

  3. Santos score way too low.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    I agree with the common sentiment that Santos should be given more credit for doing most of the work on the first goal. And while the Union’s finishing wasn’t clinical, they did force the San Jose keeper into making some tough saves.
    I also think you’re taking too much for granted by saying the game was over in the 70th minutes given what happened in New England combined with what San Jose did at the end of the game last week. If the Union had put away a third goal, 8 minutes would have been too much stoppage time, but a 2 goal differential merited accurate stoppage time which is what we got.

  5. I’ve been thinking lately that Harriel kinda reminds me of Mark McKenzie when he was beginning to play for the U. Both were overshadowed by other homegrowns, but once they got their chance they settled in quickly. They both have such a calm demeanor when playing that makes them seem years older than they actually are. I’m hoping Harriel takes his game to a similar level. To my eyes he has really helped shore up and already stout D and also he has been super close to scoring in 2 of his 3 starts (last week and last year against NYCFC). Credit to him for his hard work and I look forward to watching him grow.

    • I hope he far surpasses McKenzie. For me, McKenzie represented immense unrealized potential. He was the Kevin Bacon of Union culpability for goals allowed and I rarely found more than one degree of separation. Maybe it will click soon but his pass in last years concacaf match directly to a mexican striker leading directly to a goal allowed is not an isolated incident. He makes his mistakes in the worst possible situations. Would you even consider trading Elliott or Glesnes to have McKenzie back? It seems as though Genk has caught on. He has started less than half of their games. Let’s hope Nathan Harriel’s career has a much more fulfilling story. I for one am impressed with his poise thus far.

  6. Chris Gibbons says:

    4 for Santos is fair, but I really do understand other’s perspectives here. Santos delivered the game-winning assist and was everywhere on the night. So much of his history as a Union player was on display Saturday though, which is to say “What might have been.”

  7. Santos and Burke combined for that beautiful first goal. I say 7’s for everyone!

  8. Bueno taco says:

    If matt real is the answer late in games then what is jesus bueno? And why does jim speak highly of him

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Several years ago I watched a young Jamaican play his first cold weather game for Bethlehem Steel in preseason On Kildare’s field against West Chester United SC Predators.
      He had to be subbed off because he couldn’t”t handle the cold. Never before in his life had he experienced anything like it.
      ThevEquator runs through Venezuela I believe (Bueno). It does not run through Drexel Hill (Real).

      • My issue with this take is that Bueno came on as a sub against NYRB in the playoffs last season, and having been there I can say with certainty that it was quite cold that day too. I’m not extremely concerned about Bueno just yet, but it does make me wonder.

  9. MikeRSoccer says:

    When you miss multiple 1-on-1 chances, your score suffers. If this was a one-off occasion, I’d see why people think it is disrespectful, but this is a consistent issue that cost the team points last year and it is why the team brought in DP forwards. I’ll put it this way: if your performance in a start cements you as a bench player, you can’t get a 7 as a player rating. His performance Saturday crystalized his role as a bench player.

  10. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Gonna drop an obligatory “Santos too low” here. He was everywhere, on a cold night, and that assist was beautiful. Let’s not pretend to be stunned when he misses chances, it’s something he really does need to improve. But right now, he presents more of a threat to a goal being scored than anyone. His running and spacing is critical and I think he’ll be a fantastic sub this year.

  11. What are the chances of Uhre starting the next match?

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