Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 1–0 Chicago Fire FC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

With nearly 30 fouls, 15 11 yellow cards, and two ejections, the Union’s 1-0 victory over visiting Chicago Fire is a little difficult to judge in terms of quality.

Whether it was an intentional tactic by Chicago to go along with the 3-5-2 formation or just chance, it wasn’t a game of soccer so much as a series of stoppages occasionally interrupted by someone kicking a soccer ball for a little while. The Union came out on top in the end, but no one is going to look back on this game and think, “That was a good game for me,” because by the final whistle nobody had even gotten a chance to play in the first place.

Player ratings

Andre Blake — 7

Blake had little to do, called upon to make two relatively tame saves, by his standards. Unfortunately, the second was his last contribution, as he left the match immediately after with an injured groin. Light your prayer candles for his swift recovery.

Olivier Mbaizo — 6

Mbaizo was fine. He committed two fouls without earning a card (a true accomplishment on the night) and was fouled twice himself, which did earn a Chicago card. That’s something? In the few opportunities he had to get forward, he combined well with Bedoya, as expected.

Jakob Glesnes — 6

Quiet night for the defense. Had little to do. Did it. It’s not that Chicago wasn’t putting any pressure on, it just wasn’t enough to be concerning.

Jack Elliott — 6

See above. Jack was somewhat more active than his partner but still relatively unchallenged. Hit a good free kick that actually had a chance if it hadn’t clipped the wall.

Kai Wagner — 6

Even with the very choppy nature of this game, Wagner still somehow managed to put in 11 crosses. 11! The man is an absolute crossing machine. None came to anything of course, but it was good that he was able to find space and be active in such a constricted environment.

José Martínez — 6

Earned a yellow card, which, considering there were 15, he’d probably be upset if he didn’t. Like his center backs, he was basically untroubled by Chicago, especially after the first sending off.

Leon Flach — 5

Last week, this column wondered where Flach was to start the season, implying he’d been contributing too little. That may undersell his value to the team some but it’s also not wrong when looking at this game specifically. He wasn’t tested defensively actually making no tackles on the night, but needs to find ways to contribute when his defense isn’t needed.

Alejandro Bedoya – 6

Like Mbaizo, was able to be a little dangerous in limited opportunities. Very limited opportunities.

Dániel Gazdag — 4

Marking the attackers down a point or two not because they did anything wrong per se, but because on days like this, where there isn’t any rhythm and the chances are few and far between, it’s incumbent on them to make the most of them, and none of them were able to do so.

Mikael Uhre — 4

See above. Got caught offside too much. Probably still calibrating timing in the early season but for a guy who lives off the shoulder of the defense, this is important.

Julián Carranza — 5

Never got going. Had one volley saved off the line though, so gets an extra point.


Joe Bendik — 7

Did not have to make a save but looked calm and comfortable, which is very important when replacing a player like Blake. The defense trusts him.

Jack McGlynn (for Flach at 61′) — 5

Was hoping he could bring something that Flach couldn’t but wasn’t able to work through the molasses all over the field.

Joaquin Torres (for Uhre at 61′) — 8

8 is probably high as a grade for his overall performance, but when you hit a game-winning shot from outside the box in stoppage time, you deserve some praise. Continues his strong start to life as Union player and may end up being a similar kind of blossoming player to Carranza. Some people just need a change of scenery to come into their own.

Quinn Sullivan (for Mbaizo at 83′) — 7

Looked pretty sharp and given an extra point for his well-taken goal. It was called back for Gazdag’s offsides in the build-up but it was a very confident finish.

Geiger Counter

Guido Gonzales Jr. — 4

29 total fouls, with 15 11 yellow cards issued. While one two of those yellows were for dissent, that means nearly half a third of all fouls resulted in a yellow card. The calls themselves all made sense individually, but it’s hard to say that Gonzales was ever “in control” of the match. If he’d been able to assert himself, perhaps it might have actually flowed a little and Chicago wouldn’t have finished the night with nine men.

Man of the Match — Joaquin Torres

Win a game that the team didn’t look like winning? You’re man of the match.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Martinez was probably the hardest to judge for me. He had some great intercepts followed by perfect passes, but he also had some that were followed by passes that went out of bounds missing wide open targets. I guess a 6 is ultimately fair.
    Gonzales is way too high. The overwhelming sentiment on the game recap comments was that Chicago was playing a chippy game. Yet of the 29 fouls that were called, 19 were against the Union. Yes, the team playing the chippy game was allowed to get away with it so when they kept trying to get away with it, the fouls got so bad that most were yellow cards. Meanwhile, the Union weren’t getting away with anything and so never escalated, thus resulting in fewer yellow cards from fouls (and there were only 11, not 15, of which 6 were from fouls, 2 for dissent, 1 for time wasting, 1 for being Jose Martinez, and 1 for reacting to Jose Martinez being Jose Martinez).

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      Thanks for the edit about yellow cards. I updated the piece. I was confused by FBref’s notation of the cards, which lists both of the yellow cards given to an ejected player and then also adds a notation for the fact a player got ejected for two yellows. It confused me; I should have just looked at the timeline. 11 cards is not as incredible as 15 but the point about the number of bad fouls stands. Also, while two of the cards are listed as being given for “other reason,” what other reasons outside of a foul and dissent are there? I’m not literally asking you, I just don’t know.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Usually it’s something like involvement in a melee. Saturday, Martinez committed a foul, and then after the whistle he and Herbers started chest bumping each other and then from where I was sitting it looked like Herbers head butted him (although the replay they showed on TV wasn’t as clear that the head was aimed at Martinez). They both got yellows for what happened after the foul was called.
        And obviously, time wasting (or delaying a restart) is another reason, but it’s a separate category.

    • It’s got to be the hotel accomodations for the referees near Chester….. and they take it out on us!


      But maybe……….

  2. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Ref gets an 11/10 for simply applying the stoppage time rule correctly, like we saw in the World Cup. The fact that he had the guts to add 9 minutes to the first half was gutsy, when most old fashioned refs would do a standard 3-5 minutes.

    • Great point. Extra time has always been a pet peeve of mine, so happy for the World Cup to step forward and reset a proper standard. Hopefully it continues into the future worldwide.

      Funny… Baseball trying to shorten their games. We want ours lengthened! LOL

      Have always thought that the injured player should be required to spend as much time on the sidelines with their team playing short handed as they spend lying on the field, rolling around, covering their faces not the injury, just wasting time.

      By enforcing proper extra time, hopefully will end all that nonsense.

      And will someone PLEASE give Martinez some sort of advice. I believe no other global squad would sign him BECAUSE of his asinine, aggressively stupid behavior, game after game. Is this guy that out of touch with his behavior, or has Curtin been encouraging it?

  3. Atomic Spartan says:

    11 crosses = good for Wagner but a bad indicator of effectiveness of close-in combination play. Overreliance on crosses, especially aerials = too much loss of possession.

  4. Glesnes was MOTM. He was a brick wall all night. I mean yeah, Chicago didn’t threaten too much, but part of that is because he squelched anything that came within 10 yards of him.

    Martinez should get an extra point for goading Herbers enough to earn him that first yellow. Jose kinda won us this match, when you think about it.

    I love Gazdag but he was nearly invisible in this match and a 4 is too high.

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