Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Haris Medunjanin

The Union downed scrappy D. C. United 4-0 Saturday to begin the demolition of RFK Stadium. Haris Medunjanin scored the game winner, supplied two assists, and defended with presence. (Check the chart below.) He’s third in the league in assists. On Saturday he slotted five key passes, and his defensive chart is pretty comprehensive too.

It’s not a big surprise that Haris Medjunanin is Philly Soccer Page’s Player of the Week.

Medjunanin’s defensive work, courtesy of MLS

Look at other creative talents across the league: Maxi Rodriguez, Ignacio Piatti, Sebastien Giovinco, Luciano Acosta, Lee Nguyen.

Those guys have, at least in moments, individual brilliance that transcends the crowd. Suddenly, a line of possibility is created in their minds and then made into a physical fact with a pass no one else saw. It’s kind of like Isaac Newton, who in a providential moment, as the legend goes, saw all the vectors that make up classical physics.

When I was a junior in high school I was pretty impressed with that guy. I was studying all this stuff for six months that put numbers to things that anyone who has ever played sports already knows: momentum, acceleration, energy. The equations unfold everything. And basically one guy came up with all of it.

We in Philadelphia have looked for that kind of soccer physicist for a while, but the apples, while not all bad, have mostly missed the mark.

Medjunanin Distribution vs. DC, Courtesy of MLS

Roger Torres, who served up the first Union assist – but could not break the starting lineup – returned home after an up-and-down stint with the Union.

Freddy Adu was already on the downward trajectory of his career, the entirety of which could be summarized by the graph of y =-100(x – 10)2 + 100 (a tall parabola) followed by a flat line.

Ilsinho, capable of a dribble and shot, is not as farsighted as Sir Isaac Newton.

Tranquillo Barnetta, who bounced out of Philadelphia after a year and half, was a creative hope and, unlike energy, was not perfectly conserved in the collision. To be Tranquillo, he had to return home.

Medunjanin has journeyed everywhere. He arrived in the Netherlands as a refugee after civil strife in Bosnia (where his father died). He played in the Eredevisie, bounced to La Liga, then went to Israel for a little, Turkey, La Liga, Israel again. While he bounced and caromed, he bounced some passes that were noteworthy. He did it last Saturday. He’s been doing it all year.

Fans in Philadelphia hope that, like Newton’s legendary apple, Medunjanin has now landed and everything is clear. His international home is Bosnia, but his city is now Philadelphia and his club is the Union. He is capable of writing some equations that change the way everyone sees the game.


  1. pragmatist says:

    Slightly hyperbolic with the Newton comparisons, but definitely a goal worth trying to reach.
    Every single season we talk about how it takes international transfers half of a season to settle and get used to this league. That timeline has been shrinking in the past year or 2, but there is still an acclimation period. Hopefully, Haris has settled in, figured out his role on this team, and now moves forward towards that Newtonian goal.
    If he gets close, many things will be opened up on this team.

    • Same with Bedoya.

      Put him at the 8 and he is producing like a DP. He is leaving a total impact on both ends of the field there every game since he’s become an 8.

  2. Nice physics metaphors.

    And to pragmatist above, yes, considering how long it takes most international transfers to acclimate to the league, Haris seems to be doing pretty damn well.

    Also must point out that, among all the creative geniuses Josh mentions in the piece, none of them play a whole lot of defense.

  3. Hate to bring it up but are we now over Nogiera? Excuse the spelling.

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