Photo courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps
Editor’s note: This year, player ratings from Philadelphia Union will run separately from our postgame analysis features.
Sunday night’s scoreless draw between Philadelphia Union and the Vancouver Whitecaps showed all the signs that one club played three nights earlier and the other had traveled from the opposite coast.
Not exactly what you want for an opening day, but Philadelphia Union are probably content to take a road point, bringing their all-time opening day record to 1-4-3.
Vancouver outshot Philadelphia 12 to 7, but 4 of the Union’s 7 shots came from inside the 18, while only 4 of Vancouver’s did. Meanwhile, Philadelphia controlled more possession and attacked largely out wide, with just 26 percent of their attacks coming centrally.
Nobody stood out as brilliant for the Union, but nobody earned ignominy either. Here’s a rundown.
Andre Blake — 6
Blake effectively came off his line to control the box — and then some. Unless Oguchi Onyewu hits a higher gear, you should get used to Blake compensating like this.
Keegan Rosenberry — 6
Alphonso Davies regularly threatened to put Rosenberry on the highlight reel for all the wrong reasons, but Rosenberry held up, with some help from his friends. His goal-line save off a Jordan Harvey blast secured the point for the Union.
Oguchi Onyewu — 4
If this is as fit and mobile as Onyewu will get, then the Union are in trouble. This was Onyewu’s first regular season match in over two years. He’ll either gradually regain fitness and quickness or be a statue.
Richie Marquez — 6
Marquez didn’t draw your attention often, but when he did, it was usually by bailing out the Union with a clearance from inside his own 18-yard area, which he did five times. Vancouver defenders consistently pressed him while he was in possession but backed off Onyewu, indicating Vancouver believed it was safer to leave Onyewu in possession or that Marquez was vulnerable to pressing — or both.
Fabinho — 5
Decent but nothing special on both sides of the ball, as he and Rosenberry both played more conservatively, likely by coach’s design.
Haris Medunjanin — 5
After spending the game’s first minutes lofting hopeful passes downfield, Medunjanin settled down, completed nearly 90 percent of his passes, and was solid on corners. He never unlocked the Vancouver defense, but that looks like a team effort.
Derrick Jones — 6
Jones looked like he belonged in his MLS debut with some solid tackling, tidy passing, and reliable ball control. However, he seldom passed forward and showed very little off-the-ball movement, which probably contributed to the disconnect between the back line and attack. Still, a promising first outing for Jones, whose positioning, comfort level, and vision will improve as the game slows down for him.
Fabian Herbers — 5
Herbers’s touch let him down a few times and led to dispossession, but his work rate and eye for space put him in decent positions on both sides of the ball.
Alejandro Bedoya — 4
Bedoya’s average position was farther upfield than either Jay Simpson or C.J. Sapong, and the attack stalled at the disconnect between Bedoya and Medunjanin. Still, Bedoya had a brief lively spell early in the second half in which he put two shots on target, including an audacious backheel that nearly wrong-footed David Ousted.
Chris Pontius — 6
A typical Pontius outing: He disappeared for stretches but still looked more dangerous than any other Union player. He was at his best cutting inward with the ball on the counterattack.
Jay Simpson — 4
Simpson was generally a non-factor, isolated from the midfield. He passed cleanly but had to come awfully deep to find the ball and never threatened in dangerous positions. A better pass from him to Herbers on a second half break would have created a stronger threat on goal.
C.J. Sapong — 4
With just 12 touches in 32 minutes and two of five passes completed, Sapong did his best to make Simpson look good. Both suffered from failed linkages between Medunjanin and the attack.
Fafa Picault — 6
Picault looked like he was playing two gears higher than everyone else on the field. Granted, that can happen when you enter the game in the 70th minute, but it’s clear he that he has a few hops to his step.
Unused third sub — n/a
Wait, Jim Curtin didn’t use all three of his subs? Some things never change. Could 10 minutes of a fresh Roland Alberg have served the team better than the ordinary late game performances from Bedoya and Herbers? Considering Alberg doesn’t play defense like they do, maybe not, in which case maybe Adam Najem or Marcus Epps need be in the 18 instead.
Geiger Counter — 7
You barely noticed Sorin Stoica, except when he booked Matias Laba for delaying the game by standing in the path of a free kick.
Player of the match
Alphonso Davies. While it was tempting to focus more heavily on Vancouver’s former Union contingent — the Whitecaps started Union originals Jordan Harvey and Andrew Jacobson, along with longtime Union right back Sheanon Williams — you simply couldn’t take your eyes off Davies anytime he touched the ball. The kid is electric.
Note on ratings: 5 is average. 6 is above average. 4 is below average. 10 is a hat trick and then some. A zero requires you to actively be trying to make your team lose. A 1 is close to that, but without throwing the game.