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Player Ratings – Philadelphia Union 3-3 Deportivo Saprissa (Union agg. 6-5)

Describing how he felt after a second leg 3-3 tie that saw the Union move on (6-5 on aggregate) to the round of 16 in CONCACAF Champions Cup, Head Coach Jim Curtin said “It’s a win, or a tie, that’s a win that feels like a loss really. We weren’t ourselves.” “All of us – staff, players – had really small brains in this game. We made it really hard on ourselves when we didn’t have to […]” “We made a lot of mistakes, got punished for them, but then did show a ton of character and grit to come back down a man and advance. So, it’s not one that we are happy with […]” “[But] survive and advance is the most important thing in this competition.”

So, after that harsh self-assessment, here is how the Boys in Blue rated last night.

GK Oliver Semmle – 6

Semmle conceded three goals but nonetheless played a solid game, perhaps even better than expected from a backup keeper playing against competition like Saprissa. Even so, the three goals were not entirely his fault; As Curtin said “Look, anytime we concede three goals at home we are never going to be happy with our defending.” Each of Saprissa’s goals were restarts — a penalty, goal from a corner, and a set piece. Semmle was better during the run of play, making some very good open field saves, though the woodwork lent a hand in the same sequence during the 119th minute.

CB Jack Elliott – 5

Elliott was shown a straight red card in the third minute of injury time for a tackle from behind. It wasn’t clear if Elliott left his feet, but the two footed foul was barely protested at the time. Curtin conceded it may have been the right call, saying “[i]n that instance with Jack, any time you leave your feet and make a tackle from behind, you’re leaving yourself up for a red card.” The Union were forced to play 30 minutes of extra time with only ten men on the field. Otherwise, an acceptable return to pitch for the Union’s stalwart center back. Unfortunately, the red card means he will not be available for next Tuesday’s Round of 16 match versus Pachuca.

CB Jakob Glesnes – 5

A sloppy foul, perhaps due to the slippery pitch, led Glesnes to concede a penalty early in the game. Contact was definitely made, though from the replay it seems as if the call could have gone either way. It’s hard to fault Glesnes too much on the second Saprissa goal, though he was left looking flatfooted as the ball was headed past him and Warren Madrigal lost his defender to tap in. Glesnes was again partially at fault for Saprissa’s third goal, as his handball led to the set piece. In Glesnes’ favor, he played the through ball to Quinn Sullivan that led to the Union’s first goal.

LB Kai Wagner – 7

Another solid defensive shift as Wagner shut down the right side of the Saprissa attack. It was a quieter offensive game from the back, though Kai was second on the team with 59 accurate passes, trailing only McGlynn. Enough said.

RB Olivier Mbiazo – 7

Another change in the back from last week in San Jose, Mbaizo showed no signs of rust playing more than 120 minutes (when injury time is included). Although not appearing much in the official stats, it was a yeoman’s shift from the right back to start his season off.

DM Jesus Bueno – 6

Bueno slotted into the defensive midfield role to rest Jose Martinez, allowing himself the opportunity to prove he is a capable starter. It was a somewhat quiet night for him – he was subbed off for Martinez in the 65th minute, perhaps to add some energy after the third Saprissa goal. Bueno appeared to lack the confidence while defending that he showed last year, perhaps because this was his first time in the starting 11.

RM Quinn Sullivan – 8

Another stellar performance from the teenager shows that Sullivan has staked an early place in the starting 11. Sullivan dribbled past two defenders outside the box before launching a sublime pinpoint cross onto Carranza’s head for the first goal. Nine minutes later he tallied his own, finishing from just inside the box. After a shot from Markus Anderson was saved, Gazdag’s attempt off the rebound was blocked and Sullivan was there to fire the ball home. Sullivan (and Jack McGlynn) led the team in chances created.

LM Jack McGlynn – 9

McGlynn did not have the same flashy evening as his counterpart on the right side, but he did have just an important night. Leading the team in both accurate passes (with 79) and chances created, his ability to launch incredibly accurate passes across the field to change sides is as important defensively as it is offensively. Whether or not his bouncing corner kick was intentional or not, it found Uhre at the far side of the six and the unmarked forward made no mistake finding the net. Perhaps most impressively, McGlynn put in a full shift and then some. He was everywhere (but rarely out of position) and played the full 120 minutes – closer to 134 minutes when injury time is included. An unassuming shift, but his passes when needed and the assist on the tying (go-ahead) goal earn him Man of the Match honors.

AM Dániel Gazdag – 7

A very good shift from the Hungarian No. 10, perhaps only overshadowed by his fellow midfielders Sullivan and McGlynn. He won most of his duels, blocked two shots, created two scoring chances, and earned an assist on Sullivan’s goal. In a post-game press conference that focused on defensive woes, Gazdag was not mentioned much – which to this writer means he kept his head down and played well. Which he did.

FWD Julián Carranza – 8

A hat trick on the road is a hard act to follow but Carranza started well, leveling the match in the 17th minute with a great header from a Sullivan cross. Persistently fouled, it appeared that Carranza struggled to find a rhythm during the game. Any game in which you only score one after a hat trick is going to feel like a letdown, but Carranza played his useful high press role that is asked of him to near perfection, winning more than half his duels, winning two tackles (losing none) and recovering twice. A solid game from the Argentine.

FWD Markus Anderson – 6

The head coach had praise for Anderson on the offensive side of things, saying “[w]e wanted to see Markus and give him a shot. I thought he actually did really really well.” A nicely taken shot from the first-time starter began the sequence leading to Sullivan’s goal. However, Saprissa’s second goal came at the expense of Anderson, who was marking Madrigal, who split Glesnes and Anderson to redirect a header past Semmle to tie the game at two. Curtin said “[o]n a different night I would have let him out there to continue but we conceded the two silly goals and then it becomes a scramble from there. So nothing that he did wrong at all, I just wanted Ale out there to give some more stability and calmness.”


(46’) Alejandro Bedoya – 6

Subbed on for Anderson at half, Bedoya brought not only some stability on the right side of the pitch but also had some well taken offensive chances. It is probably no coincidence that Saprissa did not score again after Bedoya was brought on. Though early in the season, Bedoya seems to be adapting to his role as the elder statesman coming off the bench to settle the troops.

(65’) Mikael Uhre – 8

Uhre came on for a hot Sullivan in the 65th minute and had a decent game, including a nice pass across the box that Chris Donovan just missed, and Alejandro Bedoya shot far post at a tight angle only for Saprissa’s goalie to parry it away. Uhre got on the board a few minutes later when a corner from McGlynn bounced across the six-yard box and an unmarked Uhre made no mistake, blasting his shot bast two defenders and the goalkeeper in the 94th minute in the first period of extra time. The goal sealed the Union’s advance to the Round of 16. A second goal in two games may mean the Dane is getting his goalscoring prowess back.

(65’) José Martínez – 7

A double substitution with Uhre, Martinez came on for Bueno and made an immediate impact on the pace of the game, with his seven recoveries leading the Union and helping the Union stem the tide from Saprissa’s 62nd minute goal. His energy was needed as the game headed to extra time and he kept his cool and escaped without being carded.

(85’) Chris Donovan – 6

A relatively quiet game offensively from the substitute, who brought fresh legs in the 85th minute replacing Carranza. His best scoring chance was in the third minute of injury time, as he barely got a toe to a Uhre cross, but a defender blocked that tap in attempt. In typical Union fashion, not enough can be said about Donovan’s willingness to press and defend, which he did well for nearly forty minutes.

(90’) Damion Lowe – 6

Brought on in injury time at the end of regulation to replace Gazdag when Elliott went off with a red card, Lowe played well, with a block, two clearances, and another headed clearance in the thirty plus minutes he was on the field. He also played three accurate long balls forward, helping shift momentum. Unfortunately, his biggest moment of the night was a yellow card, which means he will not be available for next Tuesday’s home match versus Pachuca.

Nathan Harriel (NA)

Geiger Counter

Selvin Brown– 5

The penalty call could have gone either way. The red card was probably a red card. What is unforgiveable is 4 stoppages for VAR in the first half alone totaling more than 10 minutes. I’m all in favor of getting it right, but if it isn’t obvious on the field, and it takes VAR that long, is it really clear and obvious?

What’s Next…

The Philadelphia Union will travel to Kansas City to face Sporting KC at 8:30 pm ET at Children’s Mercy Park. The game will be shown on Apple TV.


  1. crossing my fingers and hoping that this is the beginning of Uhre shaking off WHATEVER was plaguing him last season

    • Here’s hoping!

    • To your point, Uhre (who I have written off completely at least 5 times over the past year) looked an entirely new player after the goal — his hold-up play/sprint runs to the corner flag during extra time will never make any write-up/highlight reel, but it was the sort of confident play that we absolutely needed down a man trying to see off a tough two-legged tie. We don’t need him to make any magic — just score the sitters like that corner on a semi-consistent basis…

      • Absolutely. There small things he did, like that run to the flag, that contributed to his score but weren’t mentioned because of space limitations.

      • yes! I feel like he’s been missing such obvious goals lately and I imagine it can be so disheartening (for him and us alike!) if he can slowly (or quickly) gain that back I think we will have a dangerous combo on our hands!

  2. also–can we just give a shout out to Damion for coming on in extra time and IMMEDIATELY hyping the crowd up? After a whole 90 minutes where the Saprissa fans were crazy loud, we needed that

  3. Bedoya – From half to the end was anything but calm. And Saprissa did indeed score in the second half. That substitution failed.

    Donovan – He wasn’t playing offense in overtime. He was the right side of a 5-3-1.

    The decimal point folks are more objective.

    • I’ll disagree that the Bedoya sub failed. He had absolutely nothing to do with the goal scored against them in the second half. The hand ball was 100% on Glesnes and the bad positioning of the wall to allow the easy shot was on Semmla. Bedoya, on the other hand, made a great run to the corner after being on for 70 minutes which should have killed off some time if not for a biased ref.

    • @Gimme – I used fractions. Editorial decision to stick with whole numbers.

    • You are correct Saprissa scored in the second half… I confused Bedoya’s half-time sub with the 65th minute subs when writing his blurb. My mistake. Still feel Ale settled things down.

  4. Sorry, Chris, I have to disagree with most of these.
    Semmla – 3. Made several saves but most of them were called back for offsides anyway. Was a major reason why Saprissa was able to score the third goal as he completely mispositioned the wall to allow a wide open far side of the net.
    Glesnes – 2. Was a major cause of the first and third goals allowed against.
    Gazdag – 5. Was invisible for large stretches of the game.
    Lowe – 4. Didn’t need to take the yellow card with Elliott already suspended for next week.
    Geiger Counter – 2. This guy was awful. Early on he called a couple of fouls against Saprissa despite the fact that there was obviously no contact. He doesn’t understand persistent infringement, otherwise a team called for 28 fouls would see more than one card. Once the Union scored in added extra time, he seemed to call everything against the Union. The card against Semmla was ridiculous…it would have been illegal for Semmla to restart play given that there was another ball on the pitch at the time. I was surprised to read that this guy was from Honduras and not Costa Rica.

    • Yeah I lost it when he dished that card so quick to Semmle. He didn’t even give him time to actually waste any time.

      And I don’t care what others say, the first Saprissa goal is not a penalty. Don’t try to give me this “letter of the law bs” that Glesnes kicked his leg. So what! Common sense has to set in and INTENT has to be looked at. I’d argue that it’s a foul on the Saprissa player for interrupting his stride.

      • 100% this. What is Glesnes supposed to do there? Not clear the ball he had position on because someone from behind might step in front of his kicking leg backswing?

    • I’d have Lowe a touch higher. The defense finally seemed awake when he was in

    • I agree on Glesnes. I would give Gazdag and Lowe a 6. The Lowe yellow was a typical CONCACAF call. Uhre, Marcus and Julian got taken down from behind multiple times. Most aren’t called and the ones that are are free kicks. Lowe holds the guy once and instant yellow card to eliminate him from the next game. Interesting isn’t it? I don’t agree with the Red either. There is official discretion however we had two defenders behind Jack and if you read into what Jim said, the tackle ALLOWED the ref to give a red. He did not say he deserved it. Between the Mexican refs in round 1 giving yellow cards to our key players and this guy in the last 45 minutes….what a joke. Let’s not forget the silly pressure to speed up play at the end when he didn’t tell anyone to speed up throughout. Oh, Saprissa is behind then move it!! Gotta love this team for persevering no matter what and Uhre who I have been questioning really put in a shift!!!!

  5. Regarding your comment about Semmle, the point I agree most with is ” made saves” If Bendek was back there it would have been a loss for sure. I think Semle is a pretty good goalie. It takes time to get comfortable with your defenders in front of you to set up defense. I am extremely happy Bendek is gone. Oliver will be more than capable when Blake is not able to play. I see him giving us at least fighting chance in Blake’s absence or when he has international responsibilites.

  6. Most of these are way too high, they gutted it out in the end but this was a very poor performance. In particular I thought both center backs were awful, constantly letting the much smaller Javon East post them up to win long balls.

    “It is probably no coincidence that Saprissa did not score again after Bedoya was brought on” this is offbase, Saprissa definitely scored after Bedoya subbed in.

    • Most of these were lower but were rounded up. Perhaps re-watching Curtin’s press conference in the morning persuaded me to raise them a bit. And then decimals were rounded up. Centerbacks are probably too high.

  7. Have to disagree with a few of these ratings. The centerbacks are too generous. Both Elliott and Glesnes had bad games. Elliott hasn’t been the same since the man bun dunked on him in the 2022 MLS Cup Final. Saprissa pressed the hell opt of him whenever the Union tried to play out of the back through him. Most MLS teams do the same thing, as he doesn’t handle pressure well and tends to under hit passes to the middle of the field.
    As far as the man in the middle…. The VAR reviews come down from Concacaf HQ. Still, it was as if Concacaf said “hold my beer” after we complained on Saturday night.
    Donovan did a ton of dirty running and pressing to help close out things in ET.
    Uhre has played well to start the season thus far.
    Gazdag had a solid night at the office. Fans and media pundits need to stop comparing him to Reynoso, Lodeiro, Puig, etc. He’s not that type of 10 (AM), and the Union aren’t asking him to be that type of 10 either. Everyone realizes that Gazdag is going to be the Union’s all time leader in goals and assists when his Union career is all said and done?
    Bueno had a rough night. Hopefully he can get back to the form he showed last season.
    As far as the defense as a whole, we’re going to have to get used to them conceding goals. In 2022 they essentially played most games with 3 defensive minded MF’s (Bedoya, Flach and El Brujo). Now they have three offensive minded players in MF in Gazdag, Sullivan and McGlynn. Flach’s offensive game is still developing, but he’s been an elite level defensive midfielder in MLS when healthy. IOW El Brujo and Flach covered a lot of ground and covered up many of the mistakes we’ve seen this season, and also a large part of last season.

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