Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 2-2 Chicago Fire FC

Photo: Ron Soliman

The Philadelphia Union overcame yet another sluggish first half which saw them go into the dressing room with a 0-1 deficit only to rally in the second half to secure a well-earned 2-2 draw via a stoppage time goal from Daniel Gazdag. The Union almost won the match, but Mikael Uhre’s effort for a brace was stopped short of goal by the Fire’s Goalkeeper in the final moments of the match.

Here is how the Boys in Blue rated in their MLS Season debut. The numeric ratings are from

GK Oliver Semmle 5.96
Pressed into service after Andre Blake could not answer the call at game time, Semmle played okay and, while not really challenged by the Fire offense, he did concede two goals. Some blame lies with his defenders. On a midfield turnover, Jakob Glesnes and Damien Lowe were late closing in on Chicago’s Brian Gutiérrez who scored easily from about twenty yards out.  Would Dre have saved it? Probably. Would Bednik have conceded it? Absolutely. But Semmle looked as frozen on that chance as the Subaru Park turf. The second goal, scored by former Union player Fabian Herbers, was a chaotic mess in front of goal.  Later on, Semmle did an excellent job coming off his line to save what could have been the game-winning goal off the foot of Chicago substitute Tom Barlow. Besides a few frustrating moments where Union players were not getting open, his distribution was not bad.

RB Nathan Harriel 6.91
Nathan Harriel has won the battle for the job at right back. He had a great game combining well with Quinn Sullivan and delivering quality service while on the offensive side of the field. He had the highest passing accuracy on the team at 96.7%. He also added a clearance and a blocked shot. He also had a shot on offense. Jim Curtin, in his post-game presser, did admit that he almost replaced Harriel with Olivier Mbaizo, but did not because of the chemistry between Harriel and Quinn Sullivan. At 22 years old, Harriel is a young star on the rise.

CB Jakob Glesnes 6.89
The 29-year-old central defender captained his squad tonight in the absence of Andre Blake and kept the arm band when Alejandro Bedoya was subbed into the match. Leading by example, he and Damion Lowe kept Hugo Cuypers, off the score sheet, as the $12 million man managed only one shot, missing the Union goal entirely. He was late trying to block the shot of Chicago’s Brian Gutiérrez which put the Fire up one to nil, but you can’t win them all. He finished the evening with a passing accuracy of 86.3% including 4 accurate long passes.

CB Damion Lowe 6.72
I used to refer to the Jamaican Center Back as a turnover machine. Lowe played well tonight, good on the ball and off the ball. He did just enough to disrupt Tom Barlow on what would have been the game winning goal, while risking receiving a certain red card for a tackle from behind. Defenders are supposed to delay, disrupt, and destroy the offense chances at goal and he did just that  He, too, was late getting to Gutiérrez to block his shot which resulted in the opening goal. However, he should get equal credit for keeping Hugo Cuypers off the score sheet. He was a pest on corner kicks, was cautioned twice by the referee. Statistically, he was credited for six clearances and one foul committed. On a down note, Lowe was well off-side on an otherwise equalizing goal that was disallowed by VAR check.

LB Kai Wagner 7.35
Kai was everywhere tonight proving  once again that he is one of the best left backs in the game.  He won five tackles and had two clearances while committing only one foul. While his corner kicks were not productive, and only four of his 14 crosses connected, he did account for forty-seven passes overall with an 80.9% passing accuracy and four key passes. Most importantly, he stayed out of the referee’s book.

DM José Martínez 7.71
Jose did not stay out of referee Muhammad Hassan’s book as he received a yellow card in the match’s 86th minute. Martinez played a solid midfield tonight and most
importantly, ended up on the scorer’s sheet by contributing an assist along with Alejandro Bedoya on Daniel Gazdag’s equalizing goal in second half stoppage time. Bedoya passed the ball to Martinez , who crossed to Gazdag, who calmly headed the ball past the Fire Goalkeeper. On the downside, Martinez did miss a key tackle on the Gutiérrez goal.

RM Quinn Sullivan 7.72
Quinn had an awesome game ending up on the score sheet with an assist on Uhre’s goal in the 55th minute. The 19-year-old was a factor on the Union’s right flank as the Union attacked up the right side 46% of the time. He had five shots, many which were ambitious. Sullivan’s one shot on target did force the Fire GK to make a kick save from close range. He had a 79% pass completion rate on 39 passes, including two accurate long balls. On the evening, he stayed wide, found space, and cut his runs inside at the right times with great moves off the ball. Downside: he was guilty of turning the ball over a few times.

LM Jack McGlynn 6.95
McGlynn did not have as great an evening as his counterpart on the right side.  The match broadcasters and Jim Curtin all noticed he was losing steam late in the second half, and he was subbed out for Alejandro Bedoya in the 79th minute. He did have some great moments on the ball with had sixty-two passes, and accuracy rating of 83.9%, and a brilliant cross field pass to Sullivan around the 61st minute to switch the point of attack.

AM Dániel Gazdag 8.17
Gazdag is my Man of the Match for the Union. The Hungarian headed in a cross from José Martínez to level the match at 2 – 2 in the 3rd minute of second half stoppage time. That sent the crowd home happier than a loss and secured a point for the team. While guilty of being off-side on a 46th minute goal which was overturned by VAR, he had a great game. He was the man who applied the pressure through the middle of the Chicago defense as the Union came out and played an inspired second half. A few minutes after the off-side call he assisted on Mikael Uhre’s goal in the 55th minute. His equalizing goal was his 41st for the Union, putting him in second place all-time for Union goals.

FWD Julián Carranza 6.68
Carranza had a so-so game after scoring a hat-trick in Tuesday’s CCC match against Deportivo Saprissa. A game like Tuesday’s is a hard act to follow. King Julian had three shots on the night
testing the Fire GK twice. He was marked closely and fouled often by the Chicago defense, who apparently saw him as the Union’s biggest potential threat. Carranza will need to find ways to get open in space and score goals if he expects to make the jump to European football this summer.

FWD Mikael Uhre 7.78
Uhre had a great game and needs to have them more consistently, especially if Ernst Tanner sends Carranza to Europe. The announcers made it seem like the 29-year-old Dane is still working to
improve his game in MLS. Uhre had a great goal in the 55th minute as Sullivan crossed the ball to him inside the six-yard box for the equalizer. Uhre threatened to score again in the 95th minute but his effort hit the cross bar.

SUB Alejandro Bedoya 6.26
Bedoya, who was told he no longer had a future at the club after last season, seems to have found his role as a super sub. He entered the match in the 79th minute, replacing McGlynn. Curtin acknowledged that Bedoya is still looked upon by his teammates as a de facto captain. That will be the case regardless of who is wearing the arm band though it is time to pass the mantle onto players like Blake or Glesnes. Bedoya did add a “hockey assist” as his ball to Martínez produced a cross  to Gazdag for the game-tying header. However, he did play an aimless header around the 81st minute and was not able to apply defensive pressure late in the match, making the argument for limited but perhaps key minutes in the role of a substitute.

Man of the Match
Man of the Match honors go to Daniel Gazdag with honorable mention to Quinn Sullivan.

Random Musings and Factoids

 The Philadelphia Union played their 225th MLS match at what is now Subaru Park having won 117 matches all-time.
 The 2-2 result matches the scoreline the last time these two teams met in Chicago on April 16, 2023.
 This meeting was the 34th all-time between the two clubs in MLS competition and the 16th at Subaru Park.
 Subaru Park has been a difficult venue for Eastern Conference opponents, as it should be. The Union suffered only one loss there to Eastern Conference teams in the 2023 season.
 Daniel Gazdag made his 90th appearance for the Union and notched his 41st goal, second all-time behind Sebastian LeToux.

Post game Manager Jim Curtin felt it was important to keep the group together who triumphed in Costa Rica.

What’s Next…
The Philadelphia Union will play host at Subaru Park to Deportivo Saprissa on Tuesday, February 27 in the return leg of their CCC encounter. Kick-off is at 8:15 p.m. EST. That match will be
shown on one of the Fox networks. The Union return to MLS action for their first road match of the campaign on March 2, taking on Sporting Kansas City at Childrens Mercy Park. That match will kick-off at 8:30 p.m. EST.


  1. That Sullivan/Harriel combo is likely to be quite exciting this year. Harriel is dropping really nice balls in front of goal and the connection between the two is practiced

    • For sure, harriel doing a great job so far looking great same with sullivan he didnt make any of his shots but still aggressive with the 5 shots: chicago gk was struggling lol

  2. I don’t know what to do with these ratings… how do we have a debate when you’ve got decimals??

    • probably uses an algorithm, one that is influenced by cards and goals as I have watched it over the last few years. Full credit to Chris Gibbons who recommended that I look at it.
      The weakness of any algorithm is that it cannot adjust for subtleties and variations. The LaSalle head coach’s tactical analysis credits the buildups that resulted in the assists and the goals scored by the Union, He references the pass that set up the hickey assist that set up the actual assist that set up the goal.
      Algorithms do not necessarily include that sort of thing. They need to be observed over time to discern their structural biases.
      The combination of algorithms and intelligent eyeballs remains the best.

  3. I love the decimals…can’t wait to start arguing about .01 points 🙂 🙂
    My overall impression is that these are a bit high for a home draw. The difference between a win and a draw is big enough that home draws should be considered a poor performance except in rare circumstances (such as multiple players missing due to international duty…meaning that MLS is screwing them over with scheduling).
    I know I’ve said it before, but Martinez needs to be docked significantly in the ratings when he picks up dead ball yellow cards. While the team wants to restart quickly after an apparent goal, it’s just not going to happen with VAR checking afterwards. There is zero to be gained by trying to strip the ball out of the opposing keeper’s hands.

  4. Re Martínez yellow cards I think it’s actually good that he picks them up, for 2 reasons:

    1. He demonstrates fire to to teammates and the fans. If you don’t appreciate his competitiveness and physicality, that’s your loss not the Union’s. My 13 year old daughter plays CB and she loves him and channels his approach when she plays.

    2. Curtin still, after TEN YEARS, refuses to rotate his squad. To say he “couldn’t break up the team that won in Costa Rica” is basically a fireable offense. His job is to win games in multiple competitions and rotating his squad, especially on short rest, is essential to that remit. By picking up yellows and getting suspended but not reducing his team to 10 men, Martinez essentially gives one of our best players (himself) and the heart of the midfield a rest. I wouldn’t be surprised if Martinez has figured this out. By being periodically suspended for yellow card accumulation he gets a much-needed break that Curtin wouldn’t otherwise give him.

    Just a different perspective. You keep on obsessing on El Bruno’s grades being too high. The rest of us will just continue to enjoy the passion and energy and skill he brings to the team.

    • Interesting take. As long as he doesn’t get a red, I don’t mind the fire at all. It was gamesmanship both ways in this case. But you can’t give the keeper a second yellow for that, I guess. Not conviced that Jose is playing 3D chess with his yellows, though. 🙂

    • Vince Devine says:

      I don’t think 5 days is considered short rest. Tuesday’s game will be on short rest, so i expect heavy rotation/full use of subs.

    • I have no problem with him picking up yellows for aggressive play. But both yellows he’s picked up so far this year have been for things that happened AFTER play had stopped. Given that at last year he got suspended twice for yellow card accumulation where the card that led to suspension was earned in a similar situation. That’s not aggressive play or physicality, it’s selfishness and stupidity.
      Do you teach your daughter to argue with the ref or to try and strip the ball out of the goalkeeper’s hands? Those are the two things he’s been carded for.
      If it was someone else who didn’t pick up as many cards, that would be one thing, but he hurts the team when he gets suspended and unnecessary cards are a major contributor.

      • Compare his most recent raise to those of the other defensive starters that are currently known to us.
        I am only guessing, but suspect that he’s lost salary increase because of it.
        Single sixes are rare. I was expecting him to get more money than he got.

  5. Boy, I’m getting a bit worried about someone who didn’t play- Tai Baribo. Don’t remember where I read it – may have been on this very site, but don’t think it was- but over offseason some internet nobody said the Union already know Baribo is a total bust of a signing. I mean Rafanello, Donovan, and Markus Anderson all got in to that Saprissa game- does that indicate he is 6th/7th on striker depth chart? (Carranza, Uhre, Donovan, Sullivan, Anderson, maybe Rafanello ahead). Thought maybe they held him out of Saprissa game to play vs Chicago. Believe he makes 700k? As cheap as we are, you just can’t totally whiff on guys, and there have been quite a few total whiffs lately. That Czech d-mid (Matevic?), Adada, the guy they signed same time as Adada who had some injury and didn’t get a minute, Perera, and Torres. Most of these guys were such poor fits they barely got on field, or didn’t get on even once. If Baribo doesn’t get any minutes in Saprissa game or vs SKC I’m going to believe that anonymous internet poster may have been on to something.

    • I’m not particularly a defender of Baribo, but Jim has said multiple times Baribo came to spring camp with a foot injury from which he’s still recovering, hence he hasn’t played.

    • For me, too early to tell. He seemed eager in his 4 mins at the end of last season. Beyond that, it normally takes 6-8 months to get used to MLS, especially for European imports. Not saying it is the case, but it may be they are trying to give him some time and a gentle path rather than throw him straight into a burnout spiral.

    • For what it’s worth, what I was hearing around the press box last season was that Baribo had a very hard time in training early on, and there were concerns he might not be up to MLS level.
      It’s true that he had a rough start to preseason this year due to injury. Jim historically puts a good amount of weight on preseason performance. Baribo is an international player who’s scored goals in other leagues. It’s not inconceivable that he finds his groove. But the early signs are not particularly promising.

  6. Great comments and analysis. A couple of minor comments to add and would love to hear other’s thoughts. One, when we play Chicago it is normally all about Shakiri and his movement and passing. Jose completely shut him down. By the end, you could see the frustration on Shakiri’s face. He was a non-factor. We tend to focus on his silly yellow cards, but his presence was palpable. Second, is it me or has Quinn not only provided pace and excitement but it seems to have completely changed the in-game dynamic with the team? They are actually fun to watch! Last year, they were slow and teams could just focus on Gazdag. Yes, Quinn loses the ball at times and yes, he got a little too excited on a couple of shots, however his partnership with Harriel and Gazdag is incredible. I still love McGlynn but Quinn is easily the best young player on the team right now. I hope the US U23s notice and he gets a shot at the Olympics if he keeps improving.

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