Photo: Mikey Reeves
D.C. United were not a dominant side Saturday evening. The home squad lost all urgency after their second goal. Focused on defending for the entire second half, they invited Philadelphia to attack.
Despite this, the Union never looked like they would take a point. Ben Olsen’s men took all three with the final score being 2-1.
For the majority of the game, Philadelphia looked broken. Each player looked isolated from his partners. The invisible strings that connect a team were absent for too long in RFK Stadium. By the time those strings became tangible, it was too late.
Philadelphia played as a collection of individuals. What could be better than to evaluate them as such?
Andre Blake — 4
The Jamaican keeper has been the Union’s best player. In fact, he was PSP’s player of the game in these ratings the previous two weeks. This week, Blake cost the Union. His dreadful pass was compounded by Fabinho and led to D.C.’s first goal of the season. He isn’t going to be held accountable for the converted penalty kick, but his rating would be lower if he didn’t display exceptional command of his box once again.
Keegan Rosenberry — 3
The right back isn’t enjoying a successful second season. Once again on Saturday, Rosenberry looked more concerned with providing cover than with pushing up the flanks. Jim Curtin should be held accountable for this, but the Harrisburg native was woeful when attacking. His crosses either found the first defender or no one at all.
Oguchi Onyewu — 5
Onyewu wasn’t the problem. His strength was effective when he found himself in isolation. His passing, however, was wasteful out of the back. Despite a decent defensive display, Onyewu’s long passes didn’t find their marks throughout the game.
Richie Marquez — 4
Uncharacteristically, the center back only played one half of soccer. Despite this, he made his mark on the match. His handball in the box led to United’s second and decisive goal.
Fabinho — 5
Maybe a 5 is too high. His decision to try and keep Blake’s errant pass in play was comically bad. If you can manage to overlook this, however, you will notice Fabinho was one of the more effective members of the traveling side. In the first half, he looked to be the only Union player with any offensive urgency. A heavy touch did kill a promising attack in the 33rd minute. He was serviceable in his own end, neutralizing Lloyd Sam’s speed.
Haris Medunjanin — 4
Medunjanin’s turnover which led to Marquez’s handball was bad — really bad. Luciano Acosta surprised him with pressure, and it cost the Union. Outside of that, United didn’t attack a ton. It saved the Bosnian from having to play a stout defensive game and gave him plenty of time on the ball. Unfortunately, his incisive passing is still more of a rumor than an actuality.
Derrick Jones — 4
The youngster didn’t have a lot to do. He was noticeably roaming, but United didn’t test him. Down two goals, Jones didn’t offer much going forward (not that this is his responsibility). His passes tend to be more horizontal in nature.
Alejandro Bedoya — 4
There is a disconnect between Bedoya and his holding midfielders. In the first half, he was slightly less than invisible. By playing as the second highest player up the pitch, Bedoya negates his own defensive work rate. The role of a No. 10 is to create, and he failed to create on Saturday. His performance markedly improved in the second half. Why? He spent more time on the right wing as Ilsinho drifted inside more frequently.
Ilsinho — 3
It’s a little harsh, but the Brazilian played a selfish game. The positive is he looked to take on the offensive burden when his teammates were MIA. While the shot attempt from 50 yards out could have been heroic, it looks bad when combined with multiple lost 1-on-3 take-ons. Also, that dive…
Chris Pontius — 3
Of the players on the pitch for 90 minutes, no player made less of an impact. The left back had more of an effect on the attack than did this winger. Pontius has been undervalued for his performances earlier in the season. On Saturday, however, he was a ghost.
Jay Simpson — 2
If Pontius made the least impact in 90 minutes, Simpson made the least impact overall. It was tempting to pass the blame to those who are meant to link up with the striker. That was the plan. After C.J. Sapong came into the game, it was clear who deserved the lion’s share of the criticism. Sapong willed himself into the action and took the rest of his team with him. Simpson looked like an extra. The Brit needed to force himself upon the game. Instead, he was waiting for it to come to him. It never did.
Jack Elliott — 5
Coming on at halftime to replace an injured Marquez, Elliott never had much to do in his professional debut. He made the challenges he needed to make, but his biggest role came at the end of the game. He was the one hoofing long balls into the box as time ticked toward the final whistle.
C.J. Sapong — 8
Boy, it’s tough to tell if Sapong looked that good because he was that good, or because of what was presented on the field for the previous 58 minutes. Either way, the striker scored his third goal in the last three games. More importantly, he elevated the game of his teammates. There was an edge to his game. Maybe he was fueled by Curtin’s decision to start Simpson. If a player is going to earn a place in the starting 11, it is through performances like this.
Fabian Herbers — 6
It was another solid performance for the young German. He offered pointed crosses from the right wing. There was a sharpness to his game. While Ilsinho should get another chance, it will be interesting to see if Herbers did enough to earn the start against Portland.
Ricardo Salazar — 6
Salazar made the correct call to award the penalty for Marquez’s handball. While there is credit in deferring to the assistant referee, he should be in a position to make that call himself. Other than that, it was a straightforward match without too many hard fouls. Officials deserve praise any time they discipline a player for simulation. It was not a good look for Ilsinho.
Player of the Game
Despite Sapong’s efforts, D.C. United earned the victory because of Hamid’s. The veteran goalkeeper made seven saves and was the best defense for a team primarily interested in defending. His first-half save on Medunjanin showed his athleticism. His stop on Sapong late in the game secured the three points when the Union thought they had earned an equalizer.