Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders: Player Ratings

Posted on 17 April 2011 by stoma

GK Faryd Mondragon (5)- With the weather wreaking havoc on any attempted long ball and generally slowing the pace, the goalkeeper played a much bigger role than usual in initiating the attack.  The preferred Union set was to play back to Mondragon and allow him to either send it deep or lay it off to start the build from the back.  This did not always produce excellent results, as the poor conditions led to several shanks on attempted clearances from Faryd, but nothing that ultimately put the team in too much danger.

Mondragon did not have a particularly shaky game by any means, but he didn’t do anything directly in front of goal that was especially positive, either.  He only had a couple of serious chances in front of him, and neither resulted in saves.   The first ended when Danny Califf somehow got in the way of a point-blank shot from Alvaro Fernandez after Faryd deflected Fredy Montero’s cross to Fernadez’s feet in the 78th minute.  The second ended in the back of the net for the equalizer.  Mondragon did not record any saves, but still provided leadership and stability.

LB Jordan Harvey (7)- Harvey at this point must be recognized as one of the elite man markers in the league right now.  A week after neutralizing Dane Richards, Jordan was tasked with handling the even more dangerous Steve Zakuani with largely no help whatsoever.  Additionally, Jordan still managed to get forward to pair with Keon Daniel for what is becoming a formidable tandem in creating threatening builds down the left flank.

CB Danny Califf (8.5 *ASN PHILLY MAN OF THE MATCH*)- The solid, reliable play from Califf continued against Seattle.  In addition, he was able to make a couple of the more “flashy” plays at the back usually reserved for Valdes.  Most notably, he got in behind Steve Zakuani at the last moment when the goal-scoring threat almost found himself in against Mondragon in the 20th minute.  The unofficial MLS leader in blocked shots continued to add to his total, as well, continuing to show uncanny anticipation and feel for the opponents’ shooting lanes.  Obviously, his signature play of this match came in the 78th minute when, as he saw play flowing to the weak side, he filled the area directly in front of the goal.  This paid off when a deflection found Alvaro Fernandez mere feet from a goal mouth no longer occupied by Faryd Mondragon, who had dived to deflect the cross.  Instead of an equalizing goal, the shot blasted off of Califf’s shoulder and, at the time, appeared to be a game-saver.  Of course, Seattle did eventually equalize, but that does not detract from Danny’s overall performance.

CB Carlos Valdes (7.5)- With the Union dominating possession early and Califf holding down the fort at the back, we got to see Valdes push up a bit and display his ability to play the passing lanes in the midfield.  He single-handedly created a scoring chance in the 28th minute, intercepting a pass that prevented a Seattle counterattack, taking the ball up the right flank himself and then sending a nice-looking cross in that required some quick defensive reactions from Seattle in order to dispose of it.  In addition, Carlos certainly did not shirk his vast defensive responsibilities, keeping things fairly simple in front of him and within his general radius as usual.

RB Sheanon Williams (7)- Again factoring largely in all facets of the game, Williams distinguished himself in a slow, sluggish start to the game by flying up and down his side of the pitch.  With the wind at full force, Sheanon’s signature throw-ins were particularly impressive in that they did not appear to lose any distance even in the face of the gusts.  Williams also played some decent defense, most notably making a saving tackle on Steve Zakuani when he received a cross in the area from Mauro Rosales, although he remains a touch undisciplined when there is a broken play that requires prolonged periods of defensive play.

MID Kyle Nakazawa (6.5)- Back into the active roster and the first XI with Brian Carroll nursing his strained hamstring, Nakazawa looked to make his impact early, just missing on a strike from the left side of the area in the 18th minute.   Most importantly, Kyle drew the foul at the top of the area that directly led to the Union’s only goal in the 32nd minute.  Nakazawa continued to get himself in dangerous positions throughout the remainder of the game.  He still shows a reluctance to shoot when open, instead choosing to defer to the established goal-scoring triumvirate of Ruiz, Le Toux and Mwanga, but this game was definitely a  strive forward for Nakazawa.

MID Amobi Okugo (6.5)- Another strong, if unspectacular, game from Okugo.  Elevated to the starting XI with Carroll out, Amobi continued to show the skills he can bring to the Philadelphia side if given consistent playing time.  He is certainly no defensive liability, but his value is largely tied up in his ability to be the engine in the midfield, the immediate link between the defense and the attack.  Look for Okugo to grow more comfortable holding possession himself and creating immediate opportunities for others as his role continues to grow.

MID Stefani Miglioranzi (5.5)- A bit better performance from Miglioranzi against Seattle as, with Brian Carroll out, he was tasked with fortifying the Union defense from the midfield and did so in the manner to which followers of the club have become accustomed.   Came off for Danny Mwanga in the 59th minute.

MID Keon Daniel (7)- Against the Sounders, Daniel displayed the work rate and field coverage that the Union need from the wing spot.  In addition to leading several productive forays up the flank and toward goal, Keon also showed the speed and stamina to track back and help on defense when Seattle’s wings tried to get forward.  Deft vision allows Daniel to poke into passing lanes and a soft first touch gives him the ability to settle dangerous deflections and regroup.  We’d still like to see Keon go a little more north-south with the ball, but he’s giving the Union much more than they could have expected from Keon at the outset of the season.

FWD Sebastien Le Toux (7.5)- The poor conditions actually seemed to benefit Le Toux, which seems counterintuitive, but makes sense if you think about it. Unlike a pure speedster like Zakuani, Seba has amazing speed and is strong enough to push through the wind and mud, resulting in Le Toux looking like he is still running at his normal pace while everyone else was a step slow.  This allowed Seba to get into space with higher frequency than we’ve seen thus far this season and even get behind the Seattle defense on occasion.   We’re still awaiting the kind of tangible production that Seba unleashed last season, when he was directly involved with an MLS record 71.4% of the team’s goals.  Granted, his 1 assist thus far is still actually good for 25% involvement, but that is actually more depressing than it is a mitigating factor for Seba’s play.

FWD Carlos Ruiz (8)- Was playing an excellent game even before his strike from the free kick opened the scoring in the 32nd minute.  Sensing that offensive opportunities would be at a premium due to the conditions, Ruiz turned on the pressure early, selling out for all balls in his radius in an effort to create chances.  Then, after 4 games’ worth of Le Toux and Nakazawa skying free kick opportunities, the Little Fish was given a chance after Nakazawa drew a foul just outside the box in the 32nd minute.  Ruiz came through with his 2nd goal of the season, a beautifully taken strike that traveled the width of the goal mouth in the air, approximately head high for Seattle keeper Kasey Keller.  Keller got a hand on it, but could not stop the well-paced ball from continuing to the back of the net, and Philadelphia had the lead that would last all the way to the 90th minute.  Ruiz continued to plug away and was able to connect with Le Toux on a couple of legitimate scoring chances that didn’t fully materialize before being taken off for Justin Mapp in the 80th minute.

FWD Danny Mwanga (6)- Came on for Stefani Miglioranzi in the 59th minute in an ultimately unsuccessful push for a 2nd goal that would salt away the match.  However, Danny was productive, especially as a target man up top once Ruiz was brought off in the 80th minute.  He was unable, though, to find himself much space to operate, even when Seattle opened it up to push for their equalizer.

MID Justin Mapp (N/A)– Came on for Carlos Ruiz in the 80th minute in an attempt to close out the win.  Unfortunately, Mapp was not able to maintain much possession and waste the clock away, as was the hope with his inclusion.

10 Comments For This Post

  1. Kenfunky Says:

    Nakazawa showed little. Aside from the one time he decided to take someone on and got scissor tackled, he did little to help in the attack. He cant beat anyone for pace down the line, he doesnt take people on, he doesnt cross the ball. For only really having on real skill as a winger (crossing), he doesnt even do that when given space. He cant shoot, as evidenced by the shot from 7 yards which went wide. Additionally he is not great defensively, he got sucked away from montero during a one two with zakuani allowing montero the space to cross for the goal. I would have rather left migs in, and that, is saying something.

  2. Steve Edling Says:

    Ruiz “was playing an excellent game even before his strike from the free kick opened the scoring in the 32nd minute.”

    I disagree – watching him cherry pick near the goal the entire first half was driving me crazy. If a ball didn’t get close enough to him, he didn’t even try to go after it. He didn’t put any pressure on the keeper (like Le Toux does) and as soon as he lost the ball he just gave up. Turn around and go f’ing after it!

    He also got hit in the nose or something in the first few minutes and then spent the next 10 minutes holding his nose and not doing anything for the team. At one point Le Toux had to cross the field and open up a passing lane for Harvey (I think) because Ruiz wasn’t doing s**t to help him.

    Yes he had an awesome strike that gave us the lead – but that doesn’t excuse his lack of hustle the rest of the game. So far I’m not impressed with his performance. We need someone skilled enough up front that will draw some of the defenders off Le Toux so he can get some plays set up again.

  3. Eli Says:

    Thank you Steve for seeing the obvious. While Ruiz’ touch looked a little better and he scored a goal, he remained unwilling to work for his teammates and help the overall cause. His lack of hustle and 6-8 dives a game are an embarrassment, especially because no referee will give him a call anymore.

  4. Chris S Says:

    Man, I guess first impressions die hard with a lot of people. I was not happy with Ruiz starting for a few games now, but he had an excellent game, and I was pleased with his performance before he scored the goal. Remember that beautiful, cross-field, on-the-ground, pass to a streaking Le Toux? Remember the nice passes he made with 3 defenders being closer than a teammate? I guess it’s hard to get out of the dog-house with some people when they exlude your non-goal-scoring qualities because they like Mwanga better.

  5. Sam Toma Says:

    We think Ruiz is giving maximum effort; granted, his maximum effort is never going to produce a work rate anywhere near Le Toux’s, but that does not mean he is not hustling. No, he’s not going to get after balls that he doesn’t feel like he can get to or finish his runs to pressure the keeper, but that’s probably for the best. He’s a 60-75 minute player as is; what could we expect from him if he tried to fly around the field like Seba?

    But to say that he is not selling out and trying to win balls back or get possession of a pass that was not perfectly placed at his feet is incorrect. While he certainly may not be the perfect teammate in terms of working for the others on the pitch, he is more than capably performing his role as target man thus far.

  6. Luke Says:

    why is Migs starting? he needs to reset his play this season.. seems like every game hes giving away more and more balls in the central midfield.

  7. Chris S Says:

    excellent ratings

  8. Sam Toma Says:

    We’ve forecast the end of Migs in the starting XI on a consistent basis, but that is contingent upon Brian Carroll being healthy and able to play a full 90. The team still needs 1 defensive midfielder on the field, but probably not 2, especially when Okugo has defensive ability in his own right.

  9. Zamdriver76 Says:

    Daniel played amazing. 8.5. His ball control and creativity continue to amaze me, especially considering the conditions.

  10. Erick Says:

    well I all I can say is that if it is you who is best Toux runs like crazy and Ruiz is a man very technical goal and it has nothing Toux that falls only with the ball

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