Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 1-1 FC Cincinnati

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

It was a cool night in Chester, PA as the Philadelphia Union resumed their 2022 MLS regular season schedule.

Guests FC Cincinnati brought a homecoming of sorts, as starters Ray Gaddis and Haris Medunjanin led on the field and Head Coach Pat Noonan and Sporting Director Chris Albright supported off it. In the end, both sides left feeling like they could’ve had more – and Union fans left feeling like the Boys in Blue won’t ever get in gear.

On to the ratings.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 6

Blake made some very good saves and couldn’t do much about the goal he conceded. At some point, his team is going to have to cut him some slack: he faced a whopping 17 shots on the night, and though more than half of them were blocked, that’s too many against an incomplete mid-table side.

Kai Wagner – 5

Ray Gaddis nut-megged the menacing left back early in the match, but The Machine repaid the favor later on. Wagner was fine (and statistically stood out, to be fair) but the former Union left (and right) back did a very good job neutralizing the current one.

Jack Elliott – 4

Elliott did not have his best game. Caught meandering in midfield more than a few times, his dribbling was to be expected (limited) – but unexpectedly so was his passing: the third most passes on the team, but the worst pass completion percentage. Though he was strong in the air, the Union needed to keep the ball and he didn’t help that effort.

Jakob Glesnes – 5

Glesnes put out more than a few fires on the night, whether they be helping the Union break the Cincinnati press or recovering from one of his teammate’s un-pressured midfield giveaways.

Nate Harriel – 5

The young right back led the team in clearances with 9, but was pinned by the guest’s odd-numbered hybrid midfield/back line. Kudos to Pat Noonan in making the Union’s wingbacks almost invisible – it’s almost like he helped build the team he was suddenly tasked with beating.

Jose Martinez – 3

Maybe a score this low is harsh, but for a player who starts for his South American national team and has been hailed by more than one national reporter as the league’s best defensive midfielder, Martinez just simply wasn’t good enough. Too many turnovers with the ball at his feet, on a night when possession would have gone a long way in helping the Union close the game out, either in errant passes or unnecessarily slow dribbling.

Leon Flach – 4

Flach didn’t engage in the most duels on the team, that honor went to Elliott (who only won a quarter of the 15 he engaged in – another tick in the “had a bad night” box). He did, however, win the most duels on the night: a nine out of ten clip. And yet once again, the German American offered next to nothing in the final third (routinely leaving Wagner alone on the left touch line without a third point on his passing triangle), on a night when an extra man in the box might have meant the winning goal.

Alejandro Bedoya – 7

There are actually too many players doing the team’s “dirty running” these days that Bedoya’s efforts have to be focused more on the final third than the two thirds behind him. The captain knows this, and his clinical curler was as timely as it was impressive – few players anywhere can hit that kind of ball with their weaker feet.

Daniel Gazdag – 6

It was the Hungarian’s vision that opened up Cincinnati for the opener, his poise in midfield that put the hosts on the front foot in the final 20 minutes, and his spatial awareness that found him with the ball at his feet twice with a chance to take the game’s spoils. That both attempts went directly at the keeper is as maddening for Union fans as it must be for the otherwise red hot Number Ten, fresh off scoring in his country’s road rout of England earlier in the week.

Mikael Uhre – 4

Uhre only had eleven touches on the night – a shockingly low number for a starting player at any position. That said, he was third on the team in xG (behind Gazdag and Julian Carranza) – fitting in the system, perhaps. Whatever the case, Uhre needs to get bedded in because the Union can’t play down a man in possession when he’s out there, even if his off-ball movement is second to none.

Julian Carranza – 5

Carranza was relentless in his possession-saving play that led to Bedoya’s goal. He was also one of the few Union players who succeeded in keeping the ball off of Cincinnati player’s feet – though he needed to check to midfield more often than he made the team’s beyond-clichéd back-shoulder run. There’s no question he’ll figure a measure of chemistry out with his Danish strike partner, but right now it’s not working and everyone knows it.

Substitutions

Cory Burke – 3

Burke has been roughly the same player for the Union during his entire tenure in Blue. Five years ago, that was a player with potential and upside – today, it’s just a player that looks out of sorts (even The Inquirer’s Jonathan Tannenwald, who had a much more optimistic view of the match than the writers of this site, thinks Burke looked out of sorts on the night).

Matt Real – 5

Real spent a few minutes in midfield in this match (as he did the following day with Union II). Perhaps that’s practice for when Martinez is eventually sold and Flach moves back to the six. Or, perhaps that’s just a function of the fact that Kai Wagner has never been tired in his entire life and thus cannot be justifiably substituted.

Chris Donovan – 6

Donovan was signed to the first team earlier in the week, a necessary addition to thicken the team’s thinned out roster (the Union sent a bevy of players off to youth national team duty and might not have them back for a month). The Drexel Dragon was decent in possession, won a tackle, and generally looked like an MLS player – no small feat for a young athlete making his debut. That MLSSoccer.com lists him as only “Chris” means the Boys in Blue might finally have a replacement for Ilsinho: a Brazilian, one-named talisman.

13 Comments

  1. Deez Nuggs says:

    Martinez clearly had a poor game. But somebody out there can you help my memory? Isn’t this typical for him after returning from international duty? I feel like it’s a theme. He comes back and he has a poor game.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Mbaizo was on that list too – came back an entirely different player. It must be maddening for these coaches to lose these guys for several weeks, only to have them come back rusty or off their (club) game.

  2. Think it might be time for McGlynn to start ahead of Flach – at least with teams that are going to defend with a block of 5. While Flach’s defensive prowess is undeniable, it is also undeniable that his natural position is holding mid, not box-to-box midfielder. He stunts the offense going forward. Jim thinks defense first, but when it is already the priority of 5 other field players, I think that your 8 has to be a two-way player.
    On a night that the Union passing was dismal, McGlynn would have been a nice option to help them get out of the back third and unlock the front third.
    That said, I think it is GREAT that the US-U20s grabbed 4 Union players! It says a lot for the future.
    I also think that Gazdag, Uhre and Carranza will figure things out. They just haven’t had enough time together.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Gazdag played excellent for the most part. But he appeared to be really wiped out by around the 65-70 mark. Without any backup he had to soldier on. But even my brother, who doesn’t watch soccer regularly and only comes with me occasionally, spotted a few runs he didn’t make.

  3. Deez Nuggs says:

    Uhre WILL BE great. It just won’t be this year. (It’s kinda a thing in MLS.) Coming in off a half season with another club, no rest, no preseason. Expect this year to be mostly getting adjusted. Maybe, if we’re lucky, he’ll be figuring it out by playoff time. But look to next year for his real contribution.

  4. I think Burke’s play in the past has been limited and I don’t want to become his de-facto defender but he laid 2 balls at Gazdag’s feet in this game, one off a pass and one off a header and both of those were hit right at the keeper. Had either of those gone in for a winner would Burke’s score be higher? Since the lack of finishing was not his fault should he be knocked down this low? He’s no longer a starter on this team but he came in and bodied up the defenders a few times as asked and got paired with an unknown strike partner to end the game. Think 3 is a little harsh

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      You’re 100% right.

    • DirtyJerz says:

      Agreed. I’ve been critical of Burke this year but I felt this was his best performance since he last scored.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Agreed. Was at the match and Curtin had a discussion with Burke while he was waiting to go in. When Burke did enter, he walked up to a few players to pass along some instructions and seemed to be gesturing to each that we collectively needed to pick up the tempo.

  5. Tim Jones says:

    Is it possible that Burke is now surrounded by players whose technical skills and mental anticipations are faster than their predecessors?

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    I shared this image with a Twitter/ music / footy friend who’s opinion I tend to appreciate… who has lived a similar existence as my own…who’s been to the bottom of the rabbit hole…and emerged whole…
    .
    .
    .

    …My buddy grew up on a farm. Knew a guy who grew his own herb. I was in college when I discovered Cecil Bud. 16th generation sativa. It was so strong smelling we had to double bag it and wrap it in socks. The THC was like Smartie’s powder on the fingers. Anyway…one hit wonder — that pot would completely bake me for a few hours. Rendered useless. That’s how Jose played with the ball tonight. BAKED.
    .
    He’d do something stellar and shit his pants all in the same breath. I love him but he is an enigma to me sometimes. His thinking was so slow.

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