Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: FC Cincinnati 4-3 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Despite responding thrice against the dangerous Cincinnati attack, the Philadelphia Union ultimately gave up a winner deep into second-half stoppage time to lose 3-4 against reigning Supporters’ Shield holders FC Cincinnati. Take a look at who impressed and who disappointed for the Boys in Blue.

Friendly reminder: for me; a rating of 5 is considered average. In other words: some good, some bad. Any personal disagreements up or down by a single point should be seen as subjective. Anything more serious than that is welcome to be voiced in the comments below!

Player Ratings:

Oliver Semmle –

Not the German keeper’s best showing. He probably should have saved Kelsy’s first and was then caught out from midfield by Orellano. Young players, especially goalies, can experience a lot of ups and downs in their development. Semmle has had some good games this season and Union Phaithful should trust that he will bounce back. However, Wednesday night’s performance will have many wishing for Blake’s speedy return.

Kai Wagner – 7

He talked the talk and then walked the walk. After publicly criticizing the club ownership’s transfer strategies, Wagner showed the reasons why Tanner and Sugarman elected to pay him over $1 million for the next three years. He was a key part of the Union attack- assisting twice but also setting up several other chances. Was a little unlucky defensively as the ball deflected off him to set up Kubo’s penalty. Picked up an early yellow. 

Nathan Harriel – 3

Wasn’t the most convincing showing from the Olympian hopeful. Admittedly, CB is not his natural position. Lost his mark ball-watching on Cinnci’s opener. Couldn’t get the step on Acosta to block the game-winning shot. Great sliding block that probably saved a goal in the 89th minute. Not as involved offensively as he normally would be due to the position change, and he unfortunately wasted an opener header from a corner in the 68th minute. 

Jack Elliot – 4

Alright game from Elliot but a few moments cost the team. He got a silly early yellow for dissent. Then committed the PK foul on Kubo in the box- harsh or not, Kubo got around him and drew the contact. Then he got roasted by Acosta on the game winner. His commitment is never in doubt as he didn’t hesitate to block shots- putting his body on the line. Also noticed he had some good direct passing. 

Jakob Glesnes – 7

Very active game from the Norwegian center-half. Wasn’t directly at fault for any of the goals conceded. Decisive in his actions, particularly when going forward. Loved some of his fancy flicks and backheels. Did well to kickstart attacks both with his long passing and dribbling. Kept possession for his team in the opposition’s half several times- most notably on the 3rd Union goal. Could have positioned himself or communicated better on the opener. 

Olivier Mbaizo – 6

Decent game from Mbaizo. It’s been a little while since the Cameroonian fullback has had a run of stars, he appears to have shaken off whatever bad form was affecting him earlier in the year. While he will not be as defensively stout as Harriel is, his composure on the ball is impressive. Good in possession and was rewarded with the secondary assist on the Union’s first with his cross to Uhre. Maybe the wingback role suits his playstyle more than that of a traditional fullback.

Leon Flach – 6

Great work-rate, and racked up plenty of tackles, INTs, and blocks. Almost plays like a combination of Brian Carrol and Warren Crevealle (and I do mean that as a compliment). But, between him and Bueno, the passing through the center of the field was rarely smooth or accurate. Sometimes, especially on loose balls, he either doesn’t see an open man- or doesn’t think he can find them so he just clears it. It’s safe, sure, but it would be better if he was able to control those moments and retain possession.

Jesus Bueno – 6

Presented offensive threats through his dribbling and willingness to shoot. Was rewarded for his performance with his first MLS goal for the Union. Defensively did a good job of breaking up Cincci’s attacks and making tackles. Just wish his passing was better as he misplayed several balls that should have been completed.

Jack McGlynn – 5

McGlynn was not as impactful in this game as he could have been. It seemed like a lot of Union attacks bypassed his influence, which was possibly part of the game plan (IE using the width of the pitch via Wagner and Mbaizo) with McGlynn operating as more of a facilitator. That being said, his passing numbers were great. He was able to spread the ball as good as ever. Still feels like he could have gotten more involved in the attack. He’s still hesitant to pull the trigger or pass when he’s outside the box. Clearly, was gassed by the 80th minute which led to a few mistakes.

Mikael Uhre – 6

Got the assist on the opener for the Union. Played the role of creator more often than finisher but his final third passing was good. Seemed to link up well with Baribo. Looks like the Dane is on one of his hot streaks recently- that’s 2 goals and 1 assist from the last 3 games. Long may it continue.

Tai Baribo – 8

Linked up well with Uhre. Good attacking runs. Good work-rate off the ball. Retained possession well. Scored 2 goals! What’s more, the way he got those goals was through great positioning and finishing- two hallmarks of the best strikers. The Invisible Man of the past year is suddenly very visible.



Quinn Sullivan – 5

Brought on in the 70th minute to get a goal. Did well enough. Kept attacks alive, and got on the ball in the final third. In another universe, the ball comes to him in the 99th minute and the Union gets the result they wanted.

Jeremy Rafanello – 6

Brought on to provide an offensive spark in the 70th minute, which he did. Rafa got the second assist on the Union’s third goal.

Chris Donovan – 3

Brought on for Mbaizo which heralded a tactical shift into the Diamond. Won some aerial duels. Wasted a good chance in the box when he passed out of bounds. Needs to develop a left foot as this is at least the second time (the other being his late chance against Charlotte) it has noticeably impacted a play this season. Almost made up for it with his interception, carry, and then attempted pass to Anderson but his pass hit the first defender. 

Markus Anderson – 1

Jim Curtin said in the post-game press conference, it doesn’t matter if you’re a starter or brought on for the last minute to see the game out: you have to do your job. Anderson was brought on in added time after Baribo signaled for a sub. Unfortunately, Anderson did not do his job. Around the halfway line Anderson was unable to pass the ball to an open Sullivan nor was he able to take the ball to the corner flag to see out the draw. This indecision led to former Union player Alvas Powell tackling him for the ball and starting the attack that resulted in Acosta’s winner. 

Geiger Counter:

Jair Marrufo- 5

Philly fans might feel that Marufo was a little inconsistent as a hard Kai Wagner tackle drew a yellow to the defender in the opening minutes but a very similar play by Kai later was not adjudged to be a foul. Maybe he wanted to set the tone early as there were three yellows handed out in the first 12 minutes and then only one more in the 81st. Other than that, Marufo seemed content to let the players play 


Player of the Match: Lucho Acosta

Acosta was nigh unstoppable on the night. This is his stat line from Football Reference: 2 goals, 1 assist, 5 shots, 5/7 take-ons, and 9 (!) shot-creating actions. He had a hand in three of the four goals Cinnci scored. 


What’s Next

Next up the Union has a rematch with Charlotte FC. These two teams played about a month ago and produced a rather dull 0-0 draw. Since then Charlotte has climbed the table to 5th while the Union has dropped to 10th. Despite the result against Cinnci, the Boys in Blue should take heart from Baribo’s performance and the fact that Cinnci’s offense is much better than Charlotte’s. Still, with all the absences, the Union’s depth and the player’s resolve are going to be tested thoroughly in the coming weeks.

One Comment

  1. Baribo’s performance was a big black mark against Jim Curtin. So many of us have wondered about the Curtin doghouse: what exactly is he seeing? Is he picking up on stuff, or is it just favoritism?

    Well, now we know. Andres Perea can’t see the pitch, goes to NYC, and immediately plugs into their XI. And Tai Baribo has been stuck on the depth chart behind Chris Donovan — who is simply not an MLS-caliber player — when he could’ve been doing this.

    I hope Jim takes a hard look in the mirror and rethinks some things.

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