Player ratings

Player ratings: Deportivo Saprissa 2-3 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

A physical CONCACAF Champions Cup Opener saw the Union victorious, coming back to Chester with a goal in hand and three away goals. Despite a slow start, the Union grew into the game, showing brief glimpses of brilliance in the second half.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 5

Blake came to the rescue on at least one occasion. The center backs in front of him did not live up to their end of the bargain. Could he have done better on the own goal? Maybe, but that pass from Glesnes was ill-advised in those conditions.

Nathan Harriel – 5

A quietly decent game from Harriel. He does have a tendency for playing errant passes, but he did spring the attack on the Union’s third goal, and defended stoutly for most of the contest.

Damion Lowe – 3

Lowe seemed to struggle alongside Glesnes. The poor positioning of both Lowe and Glesnes weas taken advantage of by Saprissa on multiple occasions.

Jakob Glesnes – 2

A nightmarish first half from Glesnes. Uncharacteristically poor decision-making that cost his team a goal and led to some other high-grade scoring chances for Saprissa. He settled down a bit in the second half, but it still was not a good performance from him all-around, and one he will want to rebound from quickly. Offseason surgery could explain why Glesnes seemed unlike himself tonight.

Kai Wagner – 6

Like Harriel, Wagner defended well on the flanks. His assist on Carranza’s header allowed the Union to establish substantial footing in the game.

Jose Martinez – 4

Martinez seemed rusty in possession in the middle of the field. He often chose a more challenging pass that would lead to turnovers rather than just playing a simpler, higher percentage pass. He tracked back well on occasion, but he had a hard time finding the right pass to break the Union out of their defensive third.

Jack McGlynn — 6

McGlynn played a quietly solid game on both sides of the ball. He defended far better than he will get credit for, and he sprung the attack on the Union’s second goal. A good first game in 2024 for him.

Quinn Sullivan – 8

Easily Quinn’s most impactful game in a first-team shirt. He was involved early and often, and was a difference maker in the second half. The speed and fitness on the kid are no joke. His decision making is beyond his years, and he will be a valuable piece to the team this year if he can keep this form up.

Daniel Gazdag – 7

Gazdag had the primary assist on two of the Union’s goals, which were the product of strong vision, great runs into space and quick decision making. Overall, he looked sharp.

Mikael Uhre – 3

Not the first game back that Uhre was looking for. He missed a good portion of the preseason with visa issues, and that showed mightily in his sixty-seven minute run. One can hope this is short-lived, but what Uhre showed was more of what made his 2023 campaign a disappointing one.

Julian Carranza – 9

The man is more than just clinical in front of goal. From the dirty work he does chasing defensively, to the hold-up play, to his cheeky finishing ability in front of goal – he is the most complete striker the Union have ever had. Cherish this.


Jesus Bueno – 6

Not a lot of time for Bueno to make his mark, but he was noticeably more responsible in possession than Martinez was, and had a cheeky little nutmeg that had me “Ole’ing” in response to the Saprissa crowd.

Alejandro Bedoya – 5

Bedoya brought a calming presence when he came on, while quietly contributing to the victory. He is the glue of this team and the 23 minutes he played were the perfect role for the newly resigned Club legend.

Chris Donovan – N/A

Jeremy Rafanello – N/A

Markus Anderson – N/A

Geiger Counter

Victor Caceres – 5

It was a testy, seemingly one-sided affair in the first half, which we’ve come to expect in a CONCACAF match south of the border. Three yellow cards handed out in the 37th minute calmed things down and allowed the referee to keep the whistle away from his lips for (most of) the rest of the night.

Man of the Match – Julian Carranza

What a way to kick things off for Carranza. Three goals and a really poised performance for him in front of goal.

After the game, Curtin had this to say on the Argentine’s play: “[Carranza] I thought was excellent on the night. Not just the goals he scores, but also the hold-up play, the combinations, passing and moving, doing a really good job. He is a top striker and one I don’t know how much longer we’ll have in Philadelphia.

Honorable mention – Quinn Sullivan

Sullivan deserves some individual praise. He worked his tail off to get on the end of a clearance from Harriel, outrunning a Saprissa defender, holding the play up and finding the feet Gazdag, ultimately leading to the Union’s third goal.

Curtin said of Quinn’s performance, “Quinn really came into the game in the second half… But certainly Quinn came into the second half with a lot more actions, a couple of really good balls that I think could have been goals on the night if others would have finished. Overall, a positive step for Quinn.”


  1. Agree with most of these, but I will comment on a couple of the players.
    Lowe – I thought he played reasonably well for the most part, but his positioning almost led to a goal for Saprissa shortly before they made it 2-3 when he kept two players onsides. I’ll agree with the 3 based on that.
    Martinez – He needs to learn to behave during dead ball situations. The number of cards he receives for actions after the whistle is just ridiculous. Assuming 2 yellows during CCC gets you suspended for accumulation it would not surprise me if he ends up missing on of the Pachuca games and the Union just can’t afford that. Given that he is a repeat offender at costing his team with his stupidity, I would give him a 2 AT MOST.
    McGlynn – I actually thought he was their best offensive player during the first half with his distribution. Could easily see him higher than a 6.
    Geiger Counter – Felt he was a little intimidated by the crowd. While I don’t disagree with any of the cards, the number of times he brought his whistle to his mouth and then decided not to blow it…almost always when it would have been a Saprissa foul…was a bit disconcerting.

  2. Glesnes’ back “pass” was wild and crazy, but it’s also hard for me to understand what Blake was doing there. He really misjudges the flight path of the ball. Reports said the evening was gusty, so that probably has a lot to do with it. Wild thing to happen, but ultimately not fatal.

    • Peter Andrews says:

      Yeah, I really think Blake deserves more blame on that than he’s been getting. It’s a wild ball from Glesnes, sure, but it’s a ball that should not get past a professional keeper.

      • I almost wonder if the opposing striker got a partial foot to it and deflected it causing the looping ball back and then adding any wind and crazy spin imparted that could’ve done it too

  3. Was thinking that last night was at least the second best road CONCACAF game of the seven the Union have played so far. Obviously, it was better than the two semifinal road games they have lost. It was also better than the 0-0 draw in El Salvador last year. They had 0-1 wins at Atlas last year and at Saprissa in 2021, but I think this one was better than either of those both from the fact that this included 3 road goals and was against an in form opponent who was riding a long home unbeaten streak.
    The only other game that rivals this one would be the 0-3 win in Atlanta in 2021. While that had a better goal differential and essentially won the series in the first leg, it was against a team who was also just starting their season and had a terrible first half of the season (2 wins, 9 draws in their first 17 MLS games).

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Don’t let Atlanta off the hook. They made that bed themselves with their front office foolishness – they should always have to lie in it.

  4. On the road victory in a very hostile environment, avg rating ~5.5. Seriously. Look at the overall, not just the individual. The average has to equal the result, unless you think is all fluke (which does not apply here, the Union survived the first half and dominated the second) or that the Union should dominate this game (which should not apply here)

    • Blake Zuschnitt says:

      Dave, I appreciate your input!

      As far as the “overall rating” is concerned, given the “overall performance” of the team across 90 minutes, I would say that 5.5 is fair. Considering it was the first game of the year, the first half was one of the worst performances over 45 minutes in recent memory, and rust was a prominent theme. The Union could have easily given up far more than two goals. Saprissa’s xG differential on the night was +0.54. That is indicative of the Union being outperformed over 90 minutes.

      I agree that the team showed a high degree of resolve and resilience to come out of San Jose with a one goal differential and 3 away goals. But across 90 minutes, I think a 5.5 average rating for this team is fair, and the goal of these player ratings isn’t to rate “resolve” or “intestinal fortitude” across the entire team.

      • I think the Union is built so that the team performance will be greater than the sum of its parts so it wouldn’t surprise me to frequently see a lower individual average than one would give for the team as a whole.

Leave a Reply

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