Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Nashville SC 1-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Stephen Speer

There’s that part in every wedding where the officiant asks the gathered friends and family if anyone has a reason why the two people in front of them should not be wed. It’s a nerve-wracking moment where any jerk can wreck an otherwise perfect day.

The soccer equivalent happened in Nashville on Sunday, when Major League Soccer asked if any teams had a reason why the home side didn’t deserve a fairy tell beginning to their new stadium.

The swaggiest of swaggering snakes slowly rose to stand, ready to provide a hearty objection.


Andre Blake –  10

What is there to say about Blake? He’s answered every question asked of him over nearly a decade in the league and yet still somehow manages to be under-appreciated, undervalued, and make saves that leave all observers speechless.

Jack Elliott – 5

Elliott was characteristically solid Sunday. His occasional walkabouts – especially the ones where he loses possession 70 yards from his goal – are understandable given the circumstances and the space in front of him, but still dangerous. the Union conceded too many turnovers and counters on the day.

Jakob Glesnes – 5

Like Elliott, nothing Glesnes did stood out Sunday – only winning four duels. The bevy of shots the Union faced mostly came from unforgivable turnovers in the midfield, leaving the backline scrambling to regroup.

Nate Harriel – 6

Last year, when Nashville trotted out their odd-numbered midfield or backline, the Union’s fullbacks were more often than not caught between two minds – go forward or stay home. Harriel had several observable moments making this decision, but was solid in keeping Nashville at bay. He also won his share of aerials and played two key passes.

Overall no defender received a particularly high grade on the day, as the Union allowed the third lowest scoring teams in the league to take 15 shots.

Jose Martinez and Kai Wager – 6 and 7, respectively

Had Martinez not spent two full minutes in the second half searching for a player to foul, running like a madman all over the pitch, his score would be higher (to say nothing of the penalty). He was strong and stout in defense, and generally decent with the ball at his foot – a criticism often levied at the mercurial midfielder.

As for Wagner, Union fans will miss those curling balls around the opposing defense and his poise on the ball. He also played two key passes on the afternoon, tying for the team lead.

Leon Flach – 8

To quote Philly Soccer Page’s own Jeremy Lane’s forthcoming match analysis: “Flach has had a few down games by his standards, but he was very much needed against Nashville, registering six tackles, 23 pressures, one block, two interceptions, and one clearance. He was everywhere.” Fans keep wondering which young player will take the reins from Alejandro Bedoya when the captain hangs it up. In terms of effort, the only answer today is Leon Flach.

Alejandro Bedoya – 7

Speaking of effort…

Narrator: Hey Siri, what does “dirty running” mean?

Siri: Now playing “Dirty run” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Daniel Gazdag – 8

Two shots, two key passes, and the first assist in Nashville’s new digs – a first touch ball that was as delicious as the finish itself… not to mention the fact that the Union actually passed the ball in tight spaces all over the field Sunday, with the Hungarian almost always one of the points in the passing triangle.

Mikeal Uhre – 8

The fewest touches of any starter, but…

That’s Designated Player and USMNT starter Walker Zimmerman – made to look like a traffic cone.

Julian Carranza – 5

Maybe this should be higher, as those passing triangles were almost always on Carranza’s boots too. The very high energy, very dangerous Argentinian gets docked for putting almost all his chances wide. He and Uhre are starting to find a groove though and if the two of them can start converting, the Union will be fine through this difficult stretch of May matches.


Cory Burke – 4

Burke is missing something right now. He’s not his slinky and slithering self, and his play doesn’t warrant being the team’s first sub.

It’s 2056 and the Union have four good strikers but only two of them are healthy.

Quinn Sullivan and Matt Real – N/A

Name one touch either of them had on the ball (they had three… combined).


  1. IMO Blake is not underappreciated. He is mediocre at distribution. He has been a top 3 keeper in MLS for years and has outstanding reaction save abilities. He has been the Unions best player several seasons. Is he better overall than Matt Turner? Of course not. And 4 years older. Happy to have him, but don’t exaggerate and say he belongs in Europe.

    • SilverRey says:

      If not for arcane rules, Blake would already be in Europe right now. Waaaaay before Turner I might add.
      We are lucky to still have him.

    • Hahaha, so much better than Matt Turner it’s not funny. If Blake were American we would have had at least 4 more points in qualifying. The US gk position is as weak as it has ever been and unfortunately and I would take near post Tony over Turner!

    • Some Guy says:

      Yes. Yes, he is better than Matt Turner. Do you watch the games?

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    There seems to be a contradiction here. Glesnes score includes the comment “The bevy of shots the Union faced mostly came from unforgivable turnovers in the midfield” and yet the lowest score for a midfielder is 6.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      It’s a bit of a wash. Playing risky and attack-minded against a top league defense leads to both goals and turnovers. It’s the only way to win, to pull apart a defense. But it involves taking chances too. That’s my take.

  3. Vince Devine says:

    Flach’s score is too high. If you’re playing a midfield position you need to contribute something offensively.

    • Absolutely correct. I love his desire and defensive skills, but nothing offensively whatsoever. Will never be champs playing him and Bedoya exclusively—need more offense from the mids.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      That is a fairer criticism against lower opposition. Against Nashville, Flach was there to break down their attack, and he largely succeeded.

    • I thought Leon was far more involved in the buildup than he normally is
      Check out this video of the buildup for Carranza’s chance right before halftime (starts at 0:54). Leon makes 4 passes in this move, including the pass to find Bedoya in space who is then in turn able to nutmeg a defender to find Uhre whose one-touch layoff should’ve been finished by Carranza.

  4. Let’s not forget Martinez finally put one of his shots on frame. I think the next time he does that, he scores.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    No Geiger Counter, but I think Penso deserves a reasonable score for resolving the two 50/50 calls (red cards/second PK) so that each team benefited from one of his calls.

  6. Flach an 8?!? Sure if playing soccer/futbol is running all over the field like a chicken with its head cut off. Flach doesn’t even know how to play soccer. Flach is the quintessential Jim Curtin “tries really hard in practice” player. Honestly the Union should have lost that game 5-1 except for Blake. Curtin and the FO needs to wake up if they really think this is an MLS Cup capable team. Uhre is a nice piece. He’s not the answer though.

    Thought experiment: if Brenden Aaronson were on this team playing 10 would they be favorites to win MLS Cup? Yes! So play the damn kids, Curtin. Take advantage of them while they’re here. Before a team in Europe signs them. Sub Bedoya out at 60 min. And sub Flach in only when someone is tired or hurt or dead.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I would check what the stats say about Flach before relegating him to the dumpster heap.

      With respect to Aaronson, the team would absolutely be better with a winger that’s won European trophies and is coveted by premier league sides. That’s true of every team in every league in the world.

  7. Deez Nuggs says:

    These ratings line up pretty good for me. Tough match against a tough opponent in a tough environment on the toughest day there. The U defense took a pounding, but didn’t break. There was some sloppiness that could have hurt us more, but that is an away game feature for every team in the league. There was also some real attack prior versions of this team would have never bothered packing for the trip. We got some magic and some luck, and had some luck go against us. But still, for me, a solid outing and fun as hell to watch.

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