Player ratings

Player ratings: New York Red Bulls 2-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo by 215pix

The late spring sun beat down upon a mostly full Father’s Day crowd at Talen Energy Stadium Sunday night. The wind picked up by kickoff, too, hanging even well-driven balls blindingly high into the air, as though on a string, and hanging the hopes of the Union faithful up with them. The Boys in Blue, fresh off two disappointing losses, were desperate for home points against a Red Bulls team they had beaten 3-0 just several weeks ago, and this time they were on national television. Instead, the Union missed several good first half chances and were ultimately undone by the exhausted legs of a team playing down a man.

A quick reminder about how PSP does player ratings: 5 is an average score and points are added or subtracted from there. So a performance of 6 is a fine score, and a 4 leaves something to be desired but isn’t horrible.

Player ratings 

Andre Blake — 6

Blake had one of his all-time performances in possession for the Union in this match, and couldn’t really do much about either goal. He commanded his box, was strong in the air, played simple balls when they were available, didn’t spill any shots into the oncoming path of Red Bull strikers, and will be hard done by the wind when his passing stats are published.

Ray Gaddis — 5

Gaddis hit one of the best crosses he’s ever hit for the Union, finding Chris Pontius’s head at the stroke of halftime just as he slipped between defenders. It was reminiscent of one of the team’s all-time great escapes, a late 2-1 win against San Jose where Ray Gaddis provided his 2015 Cross of the Year to the glistening dome of Union legend, Conor Casey. Unfortunately, Pontius wasn’t able to connect on goal the way that Casey always seemed to and on this day Gaddis’s efforts were for naught. Beyond that, Gaddis played another effortful shift, one that was needed more than usual given the circumstances.

Side note: After Keegan Rosenberry’s pedestrian performance midweek against Harrisburg, it’s difficult to see the West Virginia product coming off the field any time soon.

Jack Elliott — 6

Jack Elliott continues to impress, and save for an errant first half pass out wide to Gaddis that ended up in the second row of Section 127, the Brit had nary a poor touch. Though he lost Wright-Phillips on the Red Bull’s second goal, his positioning throughout the rest of the match was excellent and when he got caught ball watching in the 92nd minute sequence, the match was already over.

Oguchi Onyewu — 4

Finding his spot in the lineup still warm after being forced off early a week ago in the Bronx, Onyewu played a tale of two halves, or more precisely, a tale of 86 minutes and everything that came after. In the first part, he was adept at stepping into passing lanes and limited most of the attack that came down his side, no small feat considering the coordinates of Fabinho’s sun-rocket. In the second half, the space in front of him vacated by the red-carded Derrick Jones, Gooch was often found in charge of nearly a quarter of the field and/or of chasing Bradley Wright-Phillips. In the case of the latter, the speedy forward won that battle and found the back of the net.

Onyewu almost got his goal in the first half, only to have his one yard effort called back for goalkeeper infringement on Chris Pontius. Then, his foot went flailing at a Medunjanin dead ball late in the match, though neither was meant to be.

Fabinho — 3

The Brazilian left back will go down as one of the most famous or infamous Union players of all time when he finally hangs it up. He can be magical as he dances along the touch line, finding space where none can possibly exist. He can also be maddening when he gets caught up field, possession and numbers wasted, having to sprint back to cover for his teammates whom he’s left out to dry. In this match, there was substantially more of the latter than the former and the Red Bulls attacked him when they identified it.

Haris Medunjanin — 4

The Bosnian midfielder found himself with the arm band again, captaining a side missing one of it’s key midfield pieces, Alejandro Bedoya. While Derrick Jones certainly put his mark on the match in the second half, even until that point he and Medunjanin had a hard time balancing one another out, leaving acres of midfield space for Red Bulls to pick apart. Once Jones took his early shower, things only got worse. Medunjanin ran until his tank was truly empty and had a tough time stringing together passes or finding his final through ball. It’s unusual for a player of his quality, but his touch was off all afternoon.

Derrick Jones — 3 (Red Card, 53′)

Fleet of foot and tough in tight spaces, Jones has a chance to influence every match he plays. In this particular affair, though, an unlucky foot sliding slightly over the ball while going to ground and challenging a tackle sent the midfielder off early. Though Felipe is a known diver with a resume that would impress even Greg Louganis, and though Union fans might not want to hear it, that play with a high, studs up foot will likely get you booked in any league and Jones found out the hard way. Before that, however, he was already guilty of leaving space between his midfield help and his backline far too often.

Ilsinho — 5

In what has become a very standard performance, Ilsinho danced through dozens of defenders over the course of a fifty-five minute shift and was unable to find a final ball or a final shot after that. It’s par for the “10-but-not-a-10-Ilsinho” course.

Chris Pontius — 4

In two first half chances, Pontius could have ended this match before Allen Chapman and Derrick Jones had their opportunity. Instead, Pontius telegraphed his 22nd minute chance to the far post and then pushed his header just before halftime wide. The Union need someone like Pontius to step up in the final third to take pressure off of C.J. Sapong, and this was a prime example of what happens when one can’t.

Fafa Picault — 4

Picault chased the game all day without finding it, which is saying something for a man of his speed. The Union’s only real chances after going down a man required his fleet of foot, but not much of that was left after the Red Bulls man advantage left the entire team spent. He and Fabinho still haven’t found enough chemistry on the left side to maximize either of their potentials.

C.J. Sapong — 5

Sapong did everything he could for the Union on the day, checking back to the ball and posting up his defender to try and connect what was otherwise a very disconnected side. He ended up with the team’s best passing percentage, too, with more touches than anyone in the midfield or front line not named Medunjanin. He did all of that while wearing an oversized, French backpack named Aurelien Collin. In a match so disjointed and unpredictable, though, the Union needed his opportunistic skill in front of the goal and too often he chose a pass when a shot might have been the right call.


Warren Creavalle (55′ for Ilsinho) — 4

Creavalle was required in this match when Jones was sent off, swapped for Ilsinho as a way to shore up the midfield. Coming back from an injury, Creavalle was extremely active though often seemed a step behind. This was probably more about the Union being a man down than anything else, but it contributed to the Red Bulls completely stretching and pulling the team’s shape until the goals finally came.

Marcus Epps (70′ for Pontius) — 4

In this match, Epps was a bit out of his depths. He’ll be a big contributor to this team down the road, but for now it will require more support than he could find, his team down a man and the wind in his face. He was dispossessed and pushed wide too often in the final third and couldn’t find that cross or cutback that made his midweek performance so memorable.

Jay Simpson (89′ for Ray Gaddis) — N/A

In a video montage at the stadium, each player recalled the best lesson their father taught them about life. Jay’s memory was a great and cliched, prototypically English lesson of having stiff-upper-lip and being a man. While the Union can’t seem to produce a consistent match from one week to the next, neither can the striker find regular minutes on the pitch. It might be time for Jim Curtin to tinker and find out what to really make of the half a million dollar man.

Geiger Counter

Allan Chapman — 2

Union fans may remember Utahan Allan Chapman from his ghost penalty call against Maurice Edu in a 2015 match against Real Salt Lake. Or, if those fans are even broader fans of the league, from the comments of not-at-all-soft-spoken New England Revolution coach, Jay Heaps. However he is remembered, though, it won’t be for consistency. Chapman made a spectacle of himself and the match he oversaw Sunday afternoon in Chester. He largely ignored many soccer rules altogether and followed that thread by not issuing cards or real warnings for more than a half of the match before sending off Union midfielder, Derrick Jones.

Make no mistake: the Union did not lose because of Allan Chapman. Two first half misses from Chris Pontius did enough to claim that distinction before Chapman could. What the team will be asking for and frankly what the league deserves, however, is a better job than Chapman can possibly do.

Player of the Game

Name: Jack Elliott

If the Union build their back line of the future with centerbacks Jack Elliott and Josh Yaro, and couple that with a Keegan Rosenberry who has found his mojo again and a one-year-older-and-wiser Giliano Wijnaldum, they will have a quartet of defensive players with more skill on the ball than perhaps the aggregated ability of all previous Union defenders not named Maurice Edu.


  1. “Side note: After Keegan Rosenberry’s pedestrian performance midweek against Harrisburg, it’s difficult to see the West Virginia product coming off the field any time soon.”

    Seriously? What about the fact that our RB can’t make a meaningful forward pass during out build up phase? I’m so happy in 3+ games he’s had one cross to write home about, but we should expect more offensively from our RB in 2016.

    But whatever, you’re right. Gaddis has probably shown enough for Curtin to ask to trade Rosenberry this summer, and we’re going to go on to be one of the worst teams in the league again and Curtin is going to tell us how hard he works. WOOHOO IM SO HAPPY>

    • If Ray is being told not to make overlapping runs and be more offensive then that’s not his fault. If he is making poor passes out of the back then that is something he can hit for.

      • If he is being told not to make overlapping runs because the coach realizes he doesn’t have the skillset to consistently and reliably be an offensive threat, then I wonder why the coach keeps him in there when we need to squeeze out every iota of offensive spark this team has.

      • You may be entirely right about being told not to make overlapping runs, but this formation absolutely needs overlapping runs from fullbacks to be potent unless you have a world-class #10 or #9 – things we obviously don’t have. Otherwise it is stagnant and easy to defend.

    • I’m hoping it is the opposite and Ray-Ray has increased his value sufficiently that they trade him in the summer window while he has max value to a team where he has a future as a starter.
      Rosenberry was a first round pick for a reason and came up through the academy, so they knew exactly what they took in the draft. He played pretty bad on Wednesday, but I would still rather see him on the field, playing out of his funk – particularly when Yaro gets back on as starter.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I meant that comment about Ray’s crossing to be more tongue-in-cheek than it came off. Blame human error, compounded by three hours in the blazing sun of Talen Energy’s east stands…

    • Tim Jones says:

      While there are no official announcements to reference and hence no 100% certainty, I am 99 44/100ths % certain that Aaron Jones is on season-long loan to the Bethlehem Steel, because there are 31 players signed to the Union roster, and according to Jonathan Tannewald of The Goalkeeper sometime last February you can do that if one of those 31 is on season-long loan to your affiliate.
      I mention the arcane roster detail because Aaron Jones will be in the preseason mix as a right back next year. The only way to see him in games this year has been on loan down to the Steel.
      But as you think about the future remember that all season his primary practice unit has been the first team, not the Steel. So he is well known to first team coaches and the Sporting Director.
      Keegan Rosenberry in fact has two competitors at right back, not just one.

  2. Can it be as simple as needing a number 10? It’s so difficult watching this team. They go through these strings of bad games and worse play and who is to blame? How can it change and turn things around? I, for one, would like to see more lineup rotation and culpability for players. This current lineup has seems as much bad as they did good initially. If you have a bad game, give someone a shot. More so, depending on who you’re playing, cater the lineup to that specific team. We should not all be able to guess the lineup and course of every game.
    Rosenberry is an unfortunate enigma at the moment. He clearly wasn’t good Wednesday, but has the highest upside. I’m not sure if the best move is to continue to bury him and erode his confidence. I’m also not sure it’s great if he plays and gets beat badly.
    I wish I had the answers, but unfortunately I can probably guess what each game, and probably the season will look like, barring us getting a skilled #10. The gold cup will at least force some change in the meantime.

    • Adam Schorr says:

      It can be as simple as a getting a GM who brings in players for the system he insists on playing. As far as I’m concerned, this is 100% on Stewart – we know that the current formation is mandated by Stewart, and we know that Stewart has had 18 months at this point. Even if Barnetta didn’t leave, what was his plan for when Barnetta was injured or on international duty? How do we not have even a single MLS-quality (I’d argue we need better than that) #10 for a system that requires having one? Curtin probably would have called out Stewart by now, but any reasonable GM would’ve fired Curtin ages ago, so I’m guessing Curtin keeps his mouth shut.

      • “we know that the current formation is mandated by Stewart”

        Hasn’t it been mentioned by now that Curtin was the one who championed this system and formation?

      • Yeah, Stewart has said multiple times something to the effect that he doesn’t care what the system is. The 4-2-3-1 is Curtin’s baby. That said, I think there’s a fair enough point about Stewart not getting the right players — but that could also be just not getting players who are good enough. I started this season pretty sure Curtin needed to go. No I have a hard time focusing on any one issue when so many seem to be present. It looks like Stewart made some mistakes: Simpson and Alberg in particular. I think there’s quality there, but, again to the point — they don’t fit Jim’s system.

      • I don’t even disagree. I just have less faith in Curtin then Stewart. Stewart actually has a legit pedigree and a history of success.

        Curtin is literally Hackworth part 3, another internal hire with ZERO pedigree that we somehow have given a super long leash too.

        Even if Stewart got the “right” players in here, I have 0 faith Curtin would do anything to help us win games.

        EDIT: And maybe that’s the problem. “They don’t fit Jim’s system” – maybe Jim’s system sucks? Let’s not sugar coat anything, besides a good start last year and 4 games this year, Curtin’s reign has been as bad as any before him.

    • G.O., I’ve said since the beginning of this season’s horror show, that a true #10 hides A LOT of this team’s deficiencies. Would it make them a top team? More then likely not. But I think it makes them higher in the group of teams in the middle of the pack. Losing Barnetta severely hampered this team. Not replacing him was criminal negligence. This IS all on Stewart. Whether it’s lack of replacing Barnetta or Curtin, it’s on Stewart.

      • Great One says:

        I think it will ultimately have to be on him. Especially if he keeps the status quo, even as the team fails.

      • Tim Jones says:

        You can only buy that which is available in the marketplace and that which you can afford.
        A homeless person in Philadelphia cannot buy a $5,000 a month insurance policy offered exclusively in California.
        An actual market exists only in a specific time and place and changes both as much and as fast as a kaleidoscope.
        AND every transaction in MLS is a three-sided negotiation not two, to boot.

  3. Barry Evans says:

    Rosenberry is better than Gaddis. Him sitting on the bench not getting a game is hurting him. Play him so he can get match fit again and show that he is the better right back, playing Gaddis obviously isnt working as he continues to allow wimgers he faces an easy chamve to cross the ball, while doing nothing going forward (one good cross in 4 games does not count).

  4. Here’s the thing about Blake’s passing, they had 45 minutes of watching Robles’ passes get hung up in the wind. That and TRE flags blowing straight in to the scoreboard should’ve been clues to maybe not punt the ball as high as possible.
    Knock Fabinho all you want, but he was also the only one finding open space. Number of times Haris didn’t look up to find him.
    After Jones’ brain cramp, anything you get out of Fafa was gravy since the “creator” was immediately subbed off. He was up against their just-as-fast back and Collin would come over to help. Fafa is good, but maybe not 1v2 good.
    Does the league have CJ’s number? Yeah, he gets mauled a bit, but he invites contact and looks for the foul. We don’t need him drawing fouls at midfield , we need him working over CBs in the final third. A free kick from 60 yards out isn’t helping anyone and he just looks silly going to ground that much for no reason.

    • “Here’s the thing about Blake’s passing, they had 45 minutes of watching Robles’ passes get hung up in the wind. That and TRE flags blowing straight in to the scoreboard should’ve been clues to maybe not punt the ball as high as possible.”
      I’ll add to that, Scotty. Because when I saw Chris glossing over Blake’s poor distribution, my first instinct was to yell and scream. Thankfully, though, I’m mostly fully caffeinated. So my first instinct was to go look at the stats. All numbers are from the “Audi Player Index” page for the match.
      Passing percentage (rounded to the nearest whole number) in the opposition Half:
      Andre Blake – 61% (17/28)
      Luis Robles – 67% (2/3)
      Passing Percentage in their own half:
      Andre Blake – 75% (12/16)
      Luis Robles – 90% (19/21)
      Total Passing Percentage:
      Andre Blake – 66% (29/44)
      Luis Robles – 88% (21/24)

      Both players played in the same conditions. Sorry, Chris. I appreciate these columns after every game, and I especially appreciate the effort involved in hitting them out on such a quick deadline. But Blaming the wind for Blake’s poor passing feels disingenuous to me. Blake’s distribution was once again terrible. Yes, he made some fantastic saves. Again. He bailed his team out early (with help from Elliott on the goal line). But he continued to put his team in bad spots by insisting on trying to kick through the wind.
      Add to that, in the first half he had several opportunities after corner kicks to play Fafa on a quick counter. The one time when kicking long would be beneficial – your fastest player running, with the wind at your back. And every time, he held onto the ball, allowed the Cows defense to get set, then kicked the ball long.
      Blake needs to improve. And… the team needs to stop relying on it, and give him those short outlets like what the Cows kept giving Robles over and over and over.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        We agree 100% on Blake’s necessity for improvement. Maybe I had my rose-colored glasses on when I saw him hit outlet throws right on the money several times and at least try and find Medunjanin checking. All of that happened in the first half when it was still 11v11, but so did long ball to Fafa that was off-target was beyond maddening…. what I’m saying is, “I feel you, man.”

  5. I find it funny that everyone is talking about Rosenberry on this thread. I actually thought Gaddis had an excellent game. In fact, he was my man of the match for the Union. Any time anything started to develop on the right side, he snuffed it out very quickly. I continue to believe that, while wingback contributions to the offense are always great, the first purview of a defender is, y’know, defense. And that is doubly true on an 87 degree day in high humidity, when nobody could possibly be expected to get up and down the length of the pitch for 90+ minutes.

    Having said all this, BTW, I would really like the Keegan from last year to show up and reclaim his spot in the starting lineup.

    • I think we are all tired of sucking, and we’re back in the middle of a 3 game losing streak. So while Gaddis is really good at 1 on 1 defending and running fast, I think most of us just want to cut to the chase and get the long term starter back in there, let him play through his funk, and let the RB become part of the offense again.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Actually, if we’re in the middle of the losing streak, it’s a 5 game streak. Here’s hoping we’re at the end of a 3 game losing streak (especially since if it goes to 5, it will almost certainly be 6 with a midweek tilt at KC – unless KC decides to field another ineligible player).

    • I agree about Gaddis. He was their second best passer on the day. Pontius should have put that one away.

  6. I suggested this earlier this season as a possibility, and I think today that it is the case: Winning is not at all the priority of this team right now. Not even a little bit. It is a Project (avoided the other P-word).

    The simple fact is that this team does not operate as a win-now or at-all-costs club. I wouldn’t say there’s no pressure to win, but this is a club has prioritized everything from building the academy to Jim Curtin’s 4-2-3-1 or die system.

    I honestly don’t know how I feel about that, other than that it lessens my excitement a little knowing that I’m going to have to suffer through a lot of pretty mediocre efforts for god knows how long. Will the Union become a side to be reckoned with someday? Maybe. But my interest is in danger of waning the longer this project takes.

    • How can one get excited over a team that courts mediocrity more than a star player? The reset button has been hit, and we are in for a repeat of the first 6 years, with hopefully a better outcome…so unenthusiastic Yah!

      • While I am all for negadelphians, teams like Chicago show us we are always one offseason away from turning it around completely. I wouldn’t resign myself to expecting 6 years of this.

      • You have more faith than I James, bless you. Sure they can turn it around. Maybe a true #10, as I state above, is the answer. But we knew at the end of last season we needed a #10, and it was ignored. I get no inclination that the Union will ever be more than just following the pack. Do you ever see this team being a top dog? I mean before 20-30 years down the line. The Union are trying to play catch-up, as they always have been, and fear they always will be. I don’t have that hope anymore. I can’t believe.

      • I understand totally, I just can’t in good faith have that opinion when the Fire could have said the exact same thing, word for word, last year.

        And that was coming off a season where they were by far the worst team in the league.

      • True James, but then they want out and got an elite international star quality player who, while getting up there in age, was only playing a year ago for a top EPL team. The Union have never shown any indication that they are willing to make that drastic an investment in immediate improvement.

      • Tim Jones says:

        In reference the Fire, the German is the final piece of the puzzle.
        But he is not the only new piece by any stretch.
        I do not follow Chicago, but even I know about Dax McCarty, as I am sure most here do if they give it 30 seconds.

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    Maybe I was watching a different game but I think you are giving Blake WAY too much credit on ball distribution. He continue to kick 50/50 balls downfield (or maybe we should call them 25/75 balls based on the lack of frequency the Union wins them). And after every NY set piece deep in the field, Fafa was breaking and getting behind the last defender (while still on his own half of the field so he wasn’t offsides) and Blake would just hold it letting everyone get back rather than looking to spring him.

  8. Think Blake was to blame on the first goal. He should have covered that near post much better.
    Too many good run in the first half were not picked up by those who had the ball, not just one individual.
    Chicago showed again how important it is to have 3 great players join the team.

    • Tim Jones says:

      BWP got inside position on Gooch. Now, that it happened so infrequently is a credit to Gooch, given BWP’s pace and strength.
      Any save at 3 yards contains a high component of good fortune.

  9. what does Fafa do except run fast? yesterday he showed me no ability to beat a defender except by kicking the ball ahead and racing to it, he showed me no ability to finish, nor even the desire to score

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