Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 2-0 Charlotte FC

Photo: Stephen Speer

Expansion years are tough for any team.

If anything, Charlotte FC has performed better than expected with two wins in just five games. But the sixth game, Saturday night’s meeting with the Union, did not continue their good fortunes. The home team took the lead early on, and the visitor’s attack looked even less convincing than claims that the Carolinas, not Philadelphia, issued the first American Declaration of Independence.

With approximately 15% of the season in the books, the Union sit at the top of the Eastern Conference and only goal differential is separating them from Supporters Shield leaders LAFC. Which makes the question less whether or not the Union are good, but rather how good are they?

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 6

Before you say this is a low score for a clean sheet, remember – a player can only play as well as is asked of them. With just one shot on target, and that an unconvincing daisy-cutter from Jordy Alcivar in the sixtieth, Charlotte wasn’t asking much of Andre Blake. Fans know he’s capable of great things, but great things were not asked of him.

Nate Harriel — 6

Likewise it was a quiet night for the right back, who’s only real mistake all night was whiffing on a loose ball after a Wagner corner kick in the twenty eighth.

Jakon Glesnes — 6

A more capable opponent could have hurt the Norwegian’s score in the fortieth minute, where he had to quickly reverse course to cover a wide-open Ben Bender in the box. Charlotte were not that opponent, so Glesnes as well gets a fine but unremarkable grade for his evening’s performance.

Jack Elliott — 6

Like the four men before him, Jack Elliott suffers not because he did anything wrong but because he never had the chance to do anything right. The simple fact is the ball spent so little time in the Union half, and was so inconsequential when it was there, it’s hard to point to anything remarkable in these outings.

Kai Wagner — 7

This performance broke the back line’s trend, and early too. In the third minute the left back sent a long, arcing pass up to Sergio Santos, who in turn set up Julián Carranza’s goal. It’s always good to get a hockey assist, but it is especially valuable when you consider just how hard it is to hit that well.

Leon Flach — 5

When Flach first arrived on the Union he was noted for his speed and his passing, but neither of those traits were on display on Saturday. No real harm done from any of his misplaced passes or lack of presence under pressure, but he’ll have to get back to form before the Union face stiffer opposition.

José Martínez — 8

More than anyone else, El Brujo is responsible for the quiet performances on the back line. Popping up in just the right places to cripple nascent Charlotte attacks and send the ball back upfield, he did exactly what has made him a fan favorite and essential part of this team’s success – over and over again.

Quinn Sullivan — 6

On the surface, Sullivan’s performance wasn’t actually more productive than Flach’s. Both had missed passes, both weren’t as good as fans want them to be. The difference is Sullivan’s mistakes were positive, in that he was attempting to do a thing and failed rather than attempting not to do a thing. It’s kind of like that old “shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars” cliche. Assuming “among the stars” means “a not spectacular but still positive player rating”.

Dániel Gazdag — 8

What was Gazdag if not confident? All night he was showing exceptional positional awareness, both offensively and defensively, especially essential at unlocking a Charlotte team that seemed content to keep ten players behind the ball.

Julián Carranza — 8

Not only did this show what the Union can be with a slightly selfish striker, but it also suggests that the players are not the problem for Inter Miami. The description is slightly selfish though, because while Carranza does have the self confidence necessary for any successful striker, he also was willing to do the work to help his teammates score. This was most exemplified by helping to create the pressure that lead to Gazdag’s goal early in the second half.

Sergio Santos — 8

If Carranza’s performance is about the virtues of selfishness, Santos’ is about the value of putting team before self. His positioning, his runs – they didn’t get him a goal this game. But he was involved with both Union goals, through the assist for Carranza’s but also in stretching the defense to make room for Gazdag’s. It’s not the kind of work that goes on a stat sheet, but it’s essential work that any successful offense needs.


Cory Burke (for Santos in the sixty-sixth) — 6

Credit to Burke, he is clearly just as determined to make an impact on the game as he was before he got leap-frogged on the depth chart. Short minutes limited his chance, but if this is what the Union’s “worst” striker looks like, the depth chart is fine.

Mikael Uhre (for Santos in the sixty sixth) — 7

Once again Union fans were only allowed glimpses of the player poised to take them to the promised land, but those glimpses were promising with smart movement and good interplay with Gazdag.

Jack McGlynn (for Sullivan in the eighty first) — 6

A surprisingly offensive substitution for a team trying to close out a lead, but the young home-grown avoided overcommitting and helped the Union see out the final moments of play.

Paxten Aaronson (for Gazdag in the ninety first) — Pass

A late substitution that was more about running down the clock and getting Gazdag his deserved curtain call than actually impacting the game.

Geiger Counter

Tim Ford– 8

To be clear this doesn’t mean that the calls were right. There’s a case to be made that many – if not most – were unnecessary, but they were consistent. Tim Ford was calling anything and everything, and as soon as players realized that and adapted to it, he stopped being a noticeable part of the game. That’s what fans want.

Player of the Game

Sergio Santos

He didn’t score, but he did something significantly more unusual- he surprised everyone.

Santos has always been a good player, and one the Union were lucky to have. But the presence of other strong offensive players, specifically Gazdag and Carranza, has unlocked aspects of his game not seen before in Chester. His runs, pulling defenders away to create room for teammates, paired with his crosses giving said teammates something to do with all that space, have the potential to make the Union a serious threat indeed.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Regarding the defenders, were they not called on to do anything because Charlotte’s offense isn’t very good or was Charlotte’s offense not very good because the Union’s defense did so much to shut them down.
    I think Martinez should be dinged a bit for the orange card. If the ref had shown red it would likely not have been overturned and would have changed the game entirely. Putting your team at that much risk, especially in the first 20 minutes is not worthy of an 8.
    While the first goal was a great play, the team’s only other goal was a giveaway, so I think the offense’s scores may be a little high.
    I think Ford is overrated as an 8. While I think he got most of the calls right, I have an issue with the way Nathan Harriel was treated. When Harriel got knocked down before a corner kick, he got spoken to. And then Ford got right into Harriel’s face on a throw-in in a manner that was completely unacceptable.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Watched Instant Replay and they thought Martinez’ should have seen red (and that it was clear and obvious) so in addition to counting against Martinez, that should also be a knock on Ford, albeit in the Union’s favor.

  2. MikeRSoccer says:

    Agree that defense was not heavily challenged. Regardless, still worth a conversation about how much Harriel continues to improve with each game. He had some smart, high level tackles and his positioning was excellent. We’ve seen kids excel before, but Harriel is unique in how he is succeeding IMO… In addition to drive and physical skills, he looks like a wily veteran. His understanding of space on the defensive side and when to do x versus y makes him look like a defender with 5+ years of experience. Quite remarkable.
    Also, when was Flach known for his passing? Since day one, the criticism has been moving the ball forward in transition and possession. He’s a machine in the press and strong defensively but I don’t recall anyone praising him for his passing.

    • Agreed with your comment on Flach, I’m baffled at when he was supposedly ever “noted for his speed and passing”

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    I rarely comment on the ratings, since they are objective – but I think Uhre should be at least one lower. Dude missed a sitter on that breakaway. Would have been cool to see him get his first in front of everyone at home.

    • one on one vs the keeper should result in a doop in the old onion bag…I know I know I know: chipping the keeper was never as easy as Messi made it look, but that opportunity must be converted
      minus one

  4. Love that our debate now on the defense was if they had enough work to do to earn a better grade!!
    3-4 years ago they would all be 7 & 8s on the clean sheet with only one shot.
    Now we’re like, “…but it was too easy!”
    What a GREAT time to be a Union fan!

  5. Steve 101 says:

    I’m almost certainly getting aheqd of myself but does anyone know the financial details of making Carranza’s loan permanent? The assists and the goal are great but I’m loving the dirty work he’s doing dor the press. I’m a big Kacper supporter and have been vocal about cheering him on in Chicago(except 2 games this year) but I think Carranza’s running is really making this press go.

    PS: I look forward to revisiting this comment June 1st when we will have really learned how good this team truly is.

    • Knowing the Union he would be a sign and trade.

      Especially if Urhe works out.

      • Steve 101 says:

        I hear you but it almost always takes a year for international players to get a feel for the league. I’m hoping Uhre’s talent shines through this year but I’m not expecting 20 goals from him this year. Just curious what it would take to keep Carranza for a couple more years.

    • The number isn’t public, but there’s a purchase option at the end of the loan (end of this season). Not sure whether they would have already had a single set value or if there may be a performance-based conditional value; hopefully, it is the former, and hopefully, that number is very low.

      Keep in mind, too, that Carranza will be 22 this year and 23 next year, so that means that there’s still another whole year in which he would qualify as a ‘Young DP’ per roster rules, and regardless of his pay, his cap hit for both this season and next season would only be $200,000, and in each year, the Union can buy-down that cap hit with GAM to a minimum of $150,000 each season.

      Obviously, this doesn’t impact his transfer value, but it could be a good incentive on getting a decent return on investment from a salary perspective.

      His Transfermarkt value at the time of the loan was estimated at $3.3M. Bearing in mind that Miami was ‘over a barrel’ at the time of the negotiation, and maybe the Union could have gotten that down a bit if they had a pre-agreed dollar figure for the purchase option as part of the loan agreement.

      The real question is: If Carranza gets the results and becomes a ‘fan favorite,’ will the team have the capacity and desire to go into their pockets for the move?

      An Aaronson sell-on fee for a summer transfer from RB Salzburg to Leeds or wherever else at a $20M+ number could, presumably, cover this transfer if they wanted to.

  6. Deez Nuggs says:

    Seems like our game in May at LAFC might be an early 6 pointer.

  7. The defense was pretty stout. I know Charlotte didn’t really trouble them. But as stated above were the U that good or Charlotte that bad?? And I’m not sure the ref deserves an 8. But then again I never like the ref score unless its a 1! Really impressed by Carrara. Our defense was better than Charlotte’s attack…if you can call it that. Did anyone else notice Santos grabbing his hammy before the sub. Hope it was nothing. He was very good on Saturday night! El Bruho is just fun to watch! He was all over the place!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


%d bloggers like this: