Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 1-2 Orlando City SC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union dropped a second MLS match in a row on Saturday night, losing at home for the first time since 2021 and falling below .500 in the league through five matches.

With many players absent on international duty or through injury and suspension, Jim Curtin had to make do with a limited roster. But his squad fell behind by two goals after just nine minutes and couldn’t find an equalizer after Andres Perea halved the deficit in the 17th minute.

How’d the players do on an individual level? That’s a question for the player ratings.

Author’s note: When I write the player ratings, 5 represents an average performance. Remember, this is a subjective evaluation of each player mapped onto an arbitrary scale, so disagreements of +/- 1 point don’t mean much.

Player ratings

Joe Bendik — 3

Maybe could have done more on both goals. But the backup keeper also looked uncomfortable all night long and seemed to struggle to organize his defense. It’s unfair to compare him to Andre Blake… but he’s a big drop off.

Olivier Mbaizo — 4

Another somewhat lackadaisical performance for the Cameroonian fullback, who’s looked out of sorts in recent weeks. Even beaten for pace down the wing a few times.

Jakob Glesnes — 4

Probably the best of the defenders on the night, but not a memorable performance for the birthday boy.

Jack Elliott — 3

One of the worst performances of Elliott’s professional career. Responsible on both goals — doesn’t track the run on the first goal, steps up and loses his man on the second. Almost redeemed himself with an excellent free kick just pushed over the bar.

Kai Wagner — 4

Wagner cut a frustrated figure on the left side, an increasingly familiar sight. Played a sumptuous ball for Bedoya that was the best chance for a Union equalizer.

Leon Flach — 3

Really struggled to find the game in the No. 6 position. Orlando got the ball in dangerous areas in the middle of the field by attacking the space Flach should have had covered. In retrospect, should Jesus Bueno have gotten a start?

Andres Perea — 6

A good game for the Orlando expatriate in his first MLS start for the Union. His goal was well-taken and he showed off some positive movement. Reasonable to ask, though, whether he did enough defensively to help out Flach.

Alejandro Bedoya – 5

Fairly quiet game from the captain, who has not been as influential in the early part of this season. Will regret missing the potential equalizer from point-blank range.

Joaquin Torres — 6

At the heart of pretty much everything good the Union did going forward, including the ball that set up Perea’s goal. Did his best to track back and help defensively, but he’s not as much of a harrier as Daniel Gazdag.

Mikael Uhre — 3

A step back after a brace last week, Uhre was hampered by illness (which is why he was subbed out) and a strike partner who wasn’t on the same page.

Chris Donovan — 2

One shot in 90 minutes and looked nowhere near scoring. Some good hard running but too often without any purpose or in the same spaces as his colleagues. He’s just not at MLS level right now.


Matt Real — 5

Not the usual sub you’d make chasing a goal, but the short bench left Curtin without much else to do. Did his best.

Jesus Bueno — 5

Looked solid in his 15-minute cameo.

Nathan Harriel — 5

Tried to make things happen in the end-of-game, kitchen-sink formation.

Geiger Counter

Allen Chapman – 4

No egregious errors and kept the game relatively under control.

Man of the Match — Mauricio Pereyra

Orlando’s attackers befuddled the Union defense for much of the night, with their No. 10 pulling the strings in midfield.


  1. Jeremy Lane says:

    I thought that, while Perea settled eventually and of course scored a good goal, he was a part of the reason Orlando had so much early play. We give Brujo props for how he locks down the middle but he’s able to do that, in part, because Flach does so much defensive work on the left. Without that level of defensive engagement to start the match, Perea left Flach with a lot of work to do and that had a cascading effect. Similarly, the defensive drop-off from Gazdag to Torres was problematic early on. Flach definitely didn’t seem as comfortable as he has in the past at the 6 but I think some of that is due to the number of other changes around him that impacted the rotations he was expecting.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      And yes, I am a founding member of the Leon Flach Apologists’ Club.

      • hahaha
        Good luck with the LFAC

      • Sorry, but I’m on the opposite side of this debate.

        The most important question for a young player to answer is “Is he progressing?” For Flach the answer is “no.” The first year, they coached out of him the horrible slide tackles he consistently attempted (mostly which didn’t turn out well), so there was progress.

        Since then, no improvement in his offensive skills…none. No wonder it is said his teammates don’t want to pass to him.

        If Perea can show defensive skills and smarts, I’d be happier with him than I am with Flach. Curtin says he’s happy to see Perea coming in offensively from the left on his right foot, so that’s not an issue.

        Otherwise, perhaps McGlynn, although I’m dubious…he has no foot speed (which can’t be coached), which negatively impacts his defensive abilities. Perhaps he can make that up with better positioning, but who knows?

    • Jeremy Lane speaks my mind about why the Union were so open down the middle.
      All of us need to remember how long it has taken newbies from the Academy to learn and make instinctively instantaneous the defensive rotations that protect the narrow diamond against not having a center-playing center midfielder.
      Andres Perea came from a club that has not played anything approaching Philly’s narrow diamond midfield. He is about where Jack McGlynn was in early 2020 playing for Sven Gartung in internalizing the cues. And I have no idea whether his soccer IQ is as high. (Remember McGlynn started 2020 as a 10 and had learned to be a 6 in a double pivot by June.)
      Same idea applies to Torres, only mores since he showed up nearly three months after Perea. And the referee allowed Orlando to wipe out Torres physically repeatedly without so much as a whistle.

      • Joe Hassell says:

        The referee should not have a significant influence on the outcome of the game. You expect them to make calls neutrally, not favoring either team. I had bad feeling when I heard Allen Chapman was refing. He’s done a number of Union games and he’s bad. I assume he has a whistle allergy and this past game he was worse than normal. A few minutes in and Orlando’s first goal was clearly offsides. I assume it was looked at but Chapman wasn’t curious at all about checking it himself. As Tim noted, he let a lot of chippy play go on without calling a foul (i.e. Torres and Uhre). I have to assume he’s got something against the Union.

  2. Largely agree with everything. Torres and Perea looked intriguing (again) and everyone else seemed below expectations. I was a little surprised Harriel didn’t get a start – what will it take to get him a shot in there to possibly sure up the defense a bit?

    I know the team did Freese a favor by moving him, but for a team with strong title hopes this season, he sure would’ve been a nice luxury to fall back on with Blake injured.

  3. Deez Nuggs says:

    I don’t dispute most of these. But we could not figure out what the ref would call or not call. Thought he was very inconsistent. Uhre got taken down early in what most refs would call a clear foul. He let that go. Okay. But not two minutes later he called a really soft one against us. And that pattern continued. I’m not saying he played favorites, but just could not see what was going to get a call.
    Bueno needs to start when Jose is not here. The Flach experiment at d-mid does not work. He will run and get stuck in a tackle, but he doesn’t have the technical skill to carry under pressure in the defensive half, nor the strength to beat off a bigger player, and his running/chasing is a positional liability in this role when it is normally an asset.

    • Also, offensively he offer nothing connecting with our players in front of him. Jose can and does make the intelligent forward pass, and the other team’s D needs to respect that.

  4. Barry Evans says:

    Think being a bit harsh on Bendik to not mention some of the great saves he made towards end of the game to at least give us a chance? He was hung out to dry by his defense and while yes, he wasn’t convincing I don’t think he was as bad as this suggests.

    • I was about to write the same thing. He made a pretty spectacular double save at one point and came off his line for another one on one for a great intervention. Just because Blake might have been able to get a hand on that second goal doesn’t mean every keeper should be expected to do the same. Perhaps we haven’t fully appreciated how regularly Blake has bailed out our back line in the past. I think Bendik deserves better than a 3. 4 or even 5 would be fair.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        This is the general theme: we haven’t appreciated how truly locked-in and full-of-chemistry the starting XI is. Flach is a great example – inarguably one of the best defenders in MLS in almost every statistical category, and still looks completely out of his depth in a different spot with different players around him. But of course he does, almost any player would, however we just weren’t really ready to see it until it smacked us in the face. When the full side returns (and there was a hint we’d see Blake this coming weekend), one can imagine they’ll be playing with the full fury of a team everyone thinks missed its window.

        The “no one believes in us” motivation is a strong one too.

      • I agree with this, Chris. I find the fatalism of some a bit odd. This is MLS. The window of opportunity is open a long time for a lot of teams. So much time to turn things around and land in a good spot in the playoffs.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        Chris, I agree. But with an almost completely rotated side in CCL in El Salvador we didn’t see these issues? They acquitted well. If we have backup at every position, who know the position, then why is Jim playing them out of position? Is it more important to have your favored tool than the right tool for the job?

    • Barry — that’s a fair point, and I had meant to mention those second-half saves. Forgot to write it down.

    • IMO the rating is spot on. From the start Bendik didn’t look confident in net. He was slow off of his line early in the game, and was clearly rattled by Orlando’s token pressure.
      The saves at the end while they kept the Union in the game and gave them a chance at a draw, his early miscues led to the team being in an insurmountable hole given the short bench and absences. His distribution was poor most of the night as well, which didn’t help the Union relieve pressure, or give them a chance to get some control of the game.

  5. Can we also get a “Honorable Mention” of some negative points rating for Carranza for his silly, childish red-card last week that played a part in his team being even more short-handed than it should have been?

    • Fully agree! And Wagner better be careful not to suffer the same fate…in the last two games he’s been more than a little out of control at some major points.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      I had that thought a few times on the night, I must say. I actually think Peter is a little harsh on Donovan, who worked really hard, but losing Carranza for no reason was a big problem.

      • The Union get at least a point if Carranza was available and started. The Union created a ton of chances and pressure.
        I acree with Peter’s assessment of Donovan’s performance. He didn’t create any chances or danger. A lot of running, and industry that ultimately didn’t amount to anything.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Agreed. Good running was reminiscent of Seba. I got the feeling Chris was deferring to Uhre too much and being a bit too selfless.

  6. Richie_the _Limey says:

    We have seen Donovan start more than once now and it is obvious to even the most casual fans that he is just not up to MLS level. I get that we were short handed up front so why didn’t JimJim try a different style of play / formation?
    Sure, we were at home and playing an under-stregth opponent but with the tools available I thought he should have tried to hunker in a little more to protect that triangle of Flach / Glesnes / Elliot (and a goalie who was rustier than the SS United States). There is no shame in playing on the break (even at home) when circumstances dictate. Lord knows José Mourinho / George Graham and many more have made succesful careers out of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *