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Player ratings: FC Cincinnati 3-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

You can’t win ’em all.

Philadelphia Union produced an uncharacteristically poor performance this weekend, allowing three second-half goals and falling on the road to FC Cincinnati.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak. It was the first time this season the Union allowed more than two goals in a game, and the first time they’d allowed more than one in a game since a May 7 draw against LAFC.

On a macro level, things are still very good for the Union, who remain in first place in the Eastern Conference and have lost just three times this season through 24 games.

But on a micro level, any time you have a season-worst defensive performance, the individual grades won’t be very good.

Player Ratings

Andre Blake – 5

Allowed three goals but none were his fault — quality finishes by the Cincy attackers left him little to do. Did well to break up one good chance for Brandon Vazquez in the box in the 68th minute.

Kai Wagner – 4

Some good last-ditch defending in the first half. But things were a bit too easy for his opposite number, Alvas Powell, at times going forward, and Wagner didn’t get into attack enough to make up for it.

Jakob Glesnes – 3

Easily the worst game of the season for Glesnes, who’d barely put a foot wrong in the previous 23 games. He looked off the pace against Vazquez, marked Brenner poorly on the second goal, and seemed generally disconnected from his defensive partners. A night to forget.

Jack Elliott – 3

Elliott was just as bad as Glesnes. He seemed mystified and unable to cope with the pace and creativity of Cincy’s attackers. Let Vazquez get in front of him for the hosts’ first goal.

Olivier Mbaizo – 4

A lot like his fellow fullback Wagner, Mbaizo had some good moments in the first half (including an inch-perfect tackle to deny Luciano Acosta in the box), but sagged in the second half. Wouldn’t mind getting Nathan Harriel back into the XI.

Jose Martinez – 3

Returning from suspension, Martinez looked lost. Acosta had his lunch for most of the evening, as Martinez wasn’t able to disrupt the diminutive playmaker. On the second goal, it was far too easy for Acosta to turn around Martinez and feed Brenner for the finish.

Leon Flach – 4

A forgettable evening for Flach, who didn’t have his usual defensive impact and offered his usual little going forward. Subbed off after 59 minutes.

Alejandro Bedoya – 4

Similar to Flach, it just wasn’t a good night for the Union captain. Didn’t track Barreal on the third goal.

Daniel Gazdag – 4

Reminiscent of the first half of the season, Gazdag struggled to get on the ball in dangerous positions, with his compatriots a little too eager to boot it long. His defensive work rate did stand out as a first-half positive.

Mikael Uhre – 4

Quiet night coming off last week’s brace.

Julian Carranza – 4

Same as Uhre and deservedly subbed after 59 minutes.


Cory Burke – 5

Started strong with some good holdup play, and a nice touch to set up Paxten Aaronson’s goal, but otherwise couldn’t create any real danger.

Jack McGlynn – 5

Not as influential as in some of his other recent appearances. Looked set to score a carbon copy to last week’s free kick golazo, but hooked it just wide.

Paxten Aaronson – 6

A ball of energy when he came on, the goal was fortunate but a result of his eagerness to make something happen. Probably a better substitute in a game like this (searching for a goal) than most of the games the Union play (protecting a late lead).

Man of the Match – Luciano Acosta

The Union simply weren’t able to slow down the veteran playmaker, who had the run of the attacking third and set up all three goals. On a night where Philly picked up no yellow cards, perhaps a more physical approach to Acosta would have been warranted.

Geiger Report

Drew Fischer — 5

Got the VAR call correct when he waved off Brenner’s first-half goal, and generally managed the game okay.


  1. Generally I agree, but I would have given Uhre, Gazdag and Carranza lower ratings. Collectively they did nothing at all. Nothing.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I think Peter had the right of it here, the front three were at the mercy of the hoof-it-long ball. That’s a low percentage pass. But the Cincy press unnerved them for some reason.

  2. While obviously the deflection helped a lot I can’t help but notice the Brenden-esque shoulder fake to create space right before the shot by Paxten. He just looks so quick and agile out there. He looks just like Brenden in that ability to make space for himself even without the ball.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    I think Burke is a bit high. He had a few potential opportunities to set something up but bad touches let him down. Other than that, I think the ratings seem appropriate.
    Granted, this opponent is a bit stronger, but we really saw a difference between last week and this and, in my opinion, a lot of that was due to McGlynn’s presence.
    Would have loved to see you throw in a rating for our favorite Premier League player who put in a man of the match performance in Leeds’ win over Wolves Saturday with a takeaway to setup the first goal and pressure to force an own goal on the game winner. My rating would be in the 7 to 8 range.

    • Part of it is McGlynn, but my takeaway is that it has more to do with the quality of the Cincy attack. They forced the Union to make difficult decisions in defense, something few teams have managed to do this year. I’m not sure that swapping McGlynn for Flach or Martinez would have changed the equation meaningfully. Houston really had no ideas or pressure going forward, and that made it easy for the Union to go the other way.
      The only Premier League match I watched this weekend was Arsenal-Palace, so that rating would not have been an educated one from me.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I wasn’t thinking McGlynn would have helped much on defense so much as he could have potentially turned it into a 4-3 or 5-4 type match by opening things up in the other direction.
        I would recommend taking a look at the Leeds highlights, just to watch Brendan. I’m using him as an excuse to watch more Premier League without annoying my wife 🙂

      • Is there any other coach in the league as well positioned to identify and exploit the Union’s flaws?
        Cincy’s new defensive mid was pushed forward quite a bit in the second half, forcing Glesnes, Elliott and Martinez to account for him and leaving Acosta freer to roam undisturbed.
        And, Cincy had motive to send Medunjanin off well.
        And if I’m Pat Noonan I have been pointing at this game on the schedule since the schedule came out.

  4. Saw some Leeds supporters noting that the eye test for BAs performance in the game was very inconsistent with his advanced stats which were pretty low. I wonder the reason for this discrepancy.

    Cant wait for the new away BA kit to arrive!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’m guessing his stats were pretty low because he didn’t actually get an assist on the first goal or credit for the second even though he was a key element to both.

  5. Joe Hassell says:

    Cincinnati was definitely the better team on Saturday evening. With few exceptions, the Union players were lethargic the entire game, and overall passing quality was poor. I blame Curtin for this loss. He needed to shake things up, but Jim did not make any noticeable adjustments before it was too late. Jim only subbed 3 during the game whereas Noonan used all 5 subs. Burke had good energy, but his footwork needed to be better. I would have subbed Q. Sullivan for Carranza instead of Burke. I’m not a fan of Mbaizo. Yes – last week he had a good offensive play with the assist to Uhre, but I was at that game – most of his up field passes were well off the mark, and from what I could see against Cincinnati, he was making the same poor quality passes. I would have subbed Harriel for Mbaizo in the second half. As for the ref, I generally like Fisher and appreciated his overturning Cincinnati’s first half goal on VR, but he missed several Cincinnati tackles that should have been penalties.

  6. Probably sounding like a broken record, but Martinez ratings too generous at 3.

    Another game where his temper was under control, but then he’s NOT one of the top 10 best midfielder in MLS. Acosta schooled him many times. ENOUGH…

    … and we wonder why teams aren’t interested?

    A Roland Alberg and Marco Fabian look alike… bigger opinion of themselves compared to what’s really on the field.

    Flach and McGlynn are ready.

    It’s time Ernst.

  7. And if we’re honest with ourselves, WE KNEW FCC would win no matter what we did. I even predicted 3-1 days before.

    Albright, Noonan and all the ex Union players they signed… NEEDED this win… not only because of their winless streak before, but simply BECAUSE it was against the Union.

    … and hopefully like Curtin with Bob Bradley on Oct 9th… and we HOST MLS CUP 2022.

    Run the schedule Boys…
    30 points!



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