Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Nashville SC

The Philadelphia Union traveled to the Music City to play Nashville SC in MLS action on Saturday evening and rode a strong final 30 minutes to a 2 to 1 victory and a key three points.  The result moves the Union into a tie for second place in the MLS Eastern Conference with a game in hand.

Here are how the players rated:

Oliver Semmle — 7

Semmle has been pressed into service several times already this season to replace an injured Andre Blake and had one of his best performances of the season Saturday night. While he conceded a goal, he was equal to the task on two other first-half opportunities when Nashville threatened the Union’s goal.  The German goalkeeper registered five saves on the evening.

Jakob Glesnes — 7

The Norwegian captained the team on Saturday evening and had several key headers to negate the Nashville SC aerial attack.  Glesnes won five out of the seven aerial duels and was also responsible for eight clearing passes.

Jack Elliott — 6

Saturday was an atypical performance by Elliott, who normally rates higher for his defensive prowess.  While the Englishman was able to stymie the attack of Hany Mukhtar, he did lose his mark [Sam Surridge] on the lone goal scored by Nashville in the match’s 42nd minute.

Damion Lowe — 7

An arguably solid defensive performance all-around from the Jamaican, who had eleven clearances on defense.  Lowe made the most of his size when called upon with eight clearing headers, making him successful in 100% of his aerial duels on the evening.

Nathan Harriel — 7

The homegrown Harriel was, like many others, asked to play out of position tonight by Jim Curtin.  Harriel started and ended at right midfield despite a tactical adjustment in the 60th minute.  Despite being asked to play out of position, Harriel had a solid performance.  While he had one shot off a header, he contributed to the Union’s defensive effort with several key headers and led the team with 13 aerial duels won.

José Martínez — 6

Anytime Jose Martinez can go a game without committing a foul is a good game.  However, the Union midfielder had a rare game where he did not make an impact due, in part, to the Nashville SC defense and midfield which bottled up the middle of the field for most of the match.

Daniel Gazdag — 8

Gazdag scored the winning goal in the match’s 90th minute off the foot of Jack McGlynn’scorner attempt. The ball sailed to a wide-open Gazdag who nodded it home from the left side of the six-yard box for his fourth goal in six MLS games this season.  Gazdag had four shots on the evening with three shots on target.  Overall, he represented the only bright spot in the midfield.  Coach Jim Curtin praised his midfielder as an untraditional number 10 who suits the DNA of this team very well.  Gazdag is a Philly-tough player who delivers.

Jack McGlynn — 7

Where McGlynn made a difference against Nashville SC was on his set-piece delivery.  After the departure of Kai Wagner, it was McGlynn who took corners for the remaining 30 minutes of the match.  He delivered two dangerous balls into the Nashville penalty area.  The difference maker was the delivery of a corner to Daniel Gazdag who headed home the winning goal and gave the homegrown player his first assist of the season.  Overall, McGlynn completed 82% of his passes.

Kai Wagner — 6

Wagner was another player asked to play out of position on Saturday.  Kai started the match as a left midfielder before he was substituted for Olivier Mbaizo in the 59th minute of the match due to an injury that ended up being a nasty contusion.  Wagner completed 92% of his passes during the game which led the team in that department.

Quinn Sullivan — 7

Sullivan was yet another player asked to play out of position.  On Saturday, Sullivan was utilized as a striker versus his normal position on the right side of the midfield diamond.  As such, he was held in check for the first sixty minutes of the match.  However, he registered his second assist on the season with a short pass to Julian Carranza which was slotted into the goal for the equalizer.

Julián Carranza — 9

The Argentine netted a brilliant equalizing goal using the outside of his right foot off a pass from Quinn Sullivan in the 62nd minute of the match with what Coach Jim Curtin characterized in his post-game press conference as a “true striker’s goal”.  Curtin added, “…when we need a big one, can you get us a goal that kind of turns the whole momentum of the game, that’s what the best strikers do.”  Carranza has scored four goals in just six MLS matches, thus far.  In his presser, Curtin contrasted Carranza’s mild off-field demeanor with his dogged determination as the Union’s top striker.  Curtin hopes to keep Carranza in Union colors despite known interest from teams in Europe.


Alejandro Bedoya — 6

Bedoya entered the match in the 59th minute for Jack Elliott.  In his 31 minutes, he almost had an assist on a ball played to Quinn Sullivan who aired his shot over the Nashville goal (66th minute).  Otherwise, the veteran player added little intrinsically to the match and his impact was negligible.

Olivier Mbaizo — 7

By contrast, Mbaizo entered the match as a substitute for the injured Kai Wagner in the 59th minute and immediately made an impact. The Cameroonian contributed two key passes which led to two chances created in the final third of the field within the first few minutes of his time in the game.  Overall, he completed 93% of his passes.

Chris Donovan — 6

Donovan has entered a few matches recently.  However, they have been in the dying minutes of the game which limits his impact on the game.

Geiger Counter

Victor Rivas — 8

Oh, those Nashville fans…  For once it was good to hear other fans liken the referee to a vacuum cleaner or someone sipping a drink through a straw.  Seriously, Rivas called an even game which is all you can ask for a referee.  He only went to his book once when he issued a cautionary yellow card to Nashville’s Anibal Godoy for an egregious foul.  He did not need to utilize VAR at all keeping all of his decisions on the field.

Man of the Match

Daniel Gazdag

Gazdag garners man of the match consideration as he notched the winning goal on Saturday – his fourth of the season moves him to just six behind club legend Sebastien Le Toux for most MLS goals in club history.  Of the four goals scored by Gazdag in MLS, this is his second one coming at 90 minutes or later.  His first came in stoppage time to score the equalizer in the Union’s opening match against Chicago.


  1. Great and thorough review and analysis!! Several comments and a suggestion. I thought that this was the most positively engaged we have seen Mbaizo this year. He was terrible during the CCC and seemed so passive. Good to see him take his opportunity to play and run with it! I totally agree with you regarding man of the match! Great game Gaz! I am looking forward to the day that Jim realizes that Quinn is challenged as a forward (he did his best with hold up play but was generally beaten) and an absolute killer and the real engine to the offense when he plays midfield. I was impressed with Rivas this time. Have had a bad taste from previous matches he reffed but thought he was great.

    My one suggestion is that you include a coach rating as well. I am sure it would spark a lot of interesting commentary. For example, I totally get bringing in Donovan who works his tail off, but how about we also spell Carranza with Marcus who is good at hold up play to save him from future injury and wear and tear?

  2. Vince Devine says:

    Didn’t Harriel move to Left Back in the 60th when Wagner came out and they switched to the 4-4-2 diamond?

    • Yes.
      And I would argue that neither Wagner nor Harriell were playing out of position as left and right wing backs – while it was a 3-5-2 formation, they were actually playing as wing backs in what also could be called a 3-2-3-2.
      It’s hard to see Bedoya only rating a 6 when he comes in as a sub and arguably helps settle the game (along with the change of formation), while Donovan also rates a 6 for coming in for a few minutes.

    • I don’t think anyone was playing out of position. Sullivan just won the job up front. Could you see Uhre making that assist? He would still be flopping around.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Not related to the player ratings, but I just read an article in the Inquirer that pointed out that if Monterrey wins CCC, the Union will play in the Club World Cup next year.
    Basically, Monterrey has already qualified from winning in 2021 so if they win again, the highest ranked team in CONCACAF not already qualified would get the 4th spot. Right now, that is the Union (who are 3rd behind Leon and Monterrey…with Leon having won CCL last year). Club America and Tigres have chances of passing the Union, but there is a provision that a country can only have more than 2 teams qualify if they have more than 2 actually win CCL or CCC. So if Monterrey wins, America and Tigres wouldn’t be eligible and the Union would qualify.
    Just another reason to root for Monterrey against Inter Messi tomorrow night (Monterrey won 1-2 in the first half of the tie).

    • pragmatist says:

      Keep in mind just how important the Club World Cup would be to the club’s finances. How they spend the money is a different story, but it opens possibilities.
      The prize money
      While it might seem like another major commitment for the players after what will be another hectic season, the financial incentive for participating in the Club World Cup is certainly inarguable.

      The total prize money is around €2.5bn and an initial €2bn will be distributed among the 32 teams that book their plane tickets to the USA. Qualification therefore brings €50m as a minimum, while there will be other results-based bonuses and the winner will receive around €100m.
      Just focus on the qualification money. They will get about $50M just for being there. That’s not nothing.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Unfortunately, the Union can’t focus on anything beyond rooting for Monterrey to win CCC. Other than that, it’s out of their hands.

    • No Mexican team can qualify as the third ranked team because two are already in the tournament as winners.
      But if a different Mexican team, e. g., America, Tigres, or Pachuca, wins 2024 Concacaf Champions cup they would go because the won the year’s tournament.
      That’s why the Union only qualifies if Monterrey repeats.

  4. El Brujo contained perennial MLS MVP winner/Candidate Hany for most of the match. He also provided the pass to Sullivan that lead to Julian’s equalizer.
    There are some that are taking El Brujo’s prowess and performances for granted.

    • pragmatist says:

      His theatrics and penchant for unnecessary yellow cards can distract from his importance to this team. They are exponentially better with him on the field most nights.

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