Photo: Marjorie Elsie
It was a chilly night in Chester, Pennsylvania as the Philadelphia Union resumed its 2022 MLS regular season schedule.
The Cincinnati FC guests brought a sort of homecoming, with starters Ray Gaddis and Haris Medunjanin leading the field, with head coach Pat Noonan and athletic director Chris Albright cheering him on. In the end, both sides were left with the feeling that they could have had more, and Union fans were left with the feeling that The Boys in Blue would never enter the game.
to the ratings.
Andre Blake – 6
Blake made some very good saves and couldn’t help conceding a goal. At some point, his team will have to give him a break: he has faced a whopping 17 shots in a night, and while more than half of them have been blocked, that’s too much for an incomplete mid-table.
Kai Wagner – 5
Ray Gaddis spooked the formidable left-back early in the game, but Car later repaid for the service. Wagner was fine (and, to be honest, he stood out statistically), but the former allied left (and right) back did a very good job neutralizing the current one.
Jack Elliott – 4
Elliot didn’t have the best game. His dribbling hit midfield more than a few times and his dribbling was expected (limited) but unexpectedly the same thing happened to his passing: 3rd in pass count on the team but worst pass completion percentage. Although he was strong in the air, the Union needed to hold the ball and did not help the effort.
Jacob Glesnes – 5
Glesnes put out quite a few fires overnight, whether it was helping the Union fight the press in Cincinnati or recovering from one of his teammates failing to put pressure on the midfield.
Nate Harriel – 5
The young right-back led the team in clearances with 9, but was pinned down by an odd-numbered hybrid line of midfield and away defense. Kudos to Pat Noonan for making Union’s flankers almost invisible – it’s almost like he helped build the team he was suddenly tasked with beating.
Jose Martinez – 3
This low record may be harsh, but for a player starting out for his South American team and being named the league’s best defensive midfielder by more than one national reporter, Martinez just isn’t good enough. Too many passes with the ball at his feet on a night where possession would have helped the Union close the game, be it through erroneous passes or unnecessarily slow dribbling.
Leon Flach – 4
Flach didn’t fight most of the duels on the team, an honor that went to Elliott (who won only a quarter of the 15 duels he fought – another bad night tick). However, he did win most duels in a night: nine out of ten clips. Once again, the German-American offered next to nothing in the final third (usually leaving Wagner alone on the left flank with no third point on his flank triangle) on a night when an extra player in the penalty area could mean the winning goal.
Alejandro Bedoya – 7
There are actually too many players doing the team’s “dirty work” these days, so Bedoya’s efforts should be focused more on the last third than the two-thirds behind him. The captain knows this, and his professional curling was as timely as it was impressive – few players anywhere can hit such a ball with weaker feet.
Daniel Gazdag – 6
It was the Hungarian’s vision that opened up Cincinnati for the first, his poise in midfield that put the hosts ahead in the last 20 minutes, and his spatial awareness that found him twice with the ball at his feet with a chance to take the game’s trophies. That both attempts went straight for the keeper is as infuriating for Union fans as it must be for a red-hot number 10 who just scored in his country’s away rout in England earlier in the week.
Mikael Ure – 4
Ure only had eleven touches per night, shockingly few for a novice player in any position. However, he was third on the team in xG (behind Gazdag and Julian Carranza) – perhaps fitting into the system. Whatever the case, Ure needs to line up because the Union cannot downplay a player in possession of the ball when offside, even if his off-ball moves are unmatched.
Julian Carranza – 5
Carranza was relentless in his possession salvage play which led to Bedoya’s goal. He was also one of the few Union players who managed to keep the ball off the feet of a Cincinnati player, even though he needed to check into halfback more often than he made the team’s exorbitant over-the-shoulder run. There is no doubt that he will develop chemistry with his Danish teammate, but that is not working right now and everyone knows it.
Corey Burke – 3
Burke was roughly the same Union player throughout his time at the Blue. Five years ago, this was a player with potential and an advantage – today it’s just a player who looks out of place (even Jonathan Tannenwald of The Inquirer, who had a much more optimistic view of the match than the authors of this site, thinks Burke looked out of sorts that night).
Matt Real – 5
Real Madrid spent several minutes in midfield in this match (as they did the next day with Union II). Perhaps this is the practice when Martinez is eventually sold and Flach returns to the six. Or perhaps it’s just a function of the fact that Kai Wagner has never been tired in his entire life and therefore cannot reasonably be replaced.
Chris Donovan – 6
Donovan was signed to the first team earlier in the week, a necessary addition to bolster the team’s dwindling squad (the Union sent a handful of players to the youth national team and may not return them for a month). Drexel Dragon handled the ball well, won tackles and generally looked like an MLS player – no small achievement for a young aspiring athlete. Just calling him “Chris” by MLSSoccer.com means the Boys in Blue finally have a replacement for Ilsinho: a one-named Brazilian mascot.