Philadelphia Union vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Player Ratings

Posted on 02 May 2011 by stoma

GK Faryd Mondragon (6.5)- With even the defenders pressing up early on, Mondragon served as a glorified sweeper, easily collecting a quantity of balls that got through the stretched out Califf and Valdes.  Faryd didn’t face his first challenged until the 21st minute, when he was called into a flurry of action including two corner kicks and an attempted ball over the top from Anthony Ampaipitakwong that required the keeper to parry it aside.  Then, in the 30th minute, as the Union threatened to give up yet another goal off a set piece rebound, Faryd went feet-first to stonewall the sliding attempt of Chris Wondowlowski, a brilliant save that set off fireworks between Mondragon and Earthquakes midfielder Ben McDonald.  This, of course, quickly ignited a full-squad confrontation once Danny Califf saw his goalkeeper being pushed by an opponent.  The end result was matching yellows for Faryd and McDonald and a chorus of “Mon-drag-on” chants from the River End.

For the rest of the match, with the crowd frenzied and then taken to a crescendo when the Union took the lead in the 76th minute, Mondragon assumed his role once again as the calming presence at the back.  Although he only officially recorded 1 save, that’s not counting the aforementioned rebuke of Wondolowski and a critical punch of a 50/50 ball bouncing in that Steven Lenhart had a real chance at putting away.  The 1 official save was also solid, as a San Jose corner ricocheted onto the head of Lenhart only to be calmly snatched by Faryd to preserve the shutout.

LB Jordan Harvey (5)- After a largely uneventful 1st half in which Harvey joined Sheanon Williams in pushing as far up high as they could get away with, calamity found Jordan in the form of a 50/50 ball that ended up with Chris Leitch tangled up at Harvey’s feet.  Attempting to disengage himself and go after the ball, Harvey managed what appeared to be a bit of an extracurricular jab with his spike into Leitch’s midsection.  This earned Jordan a 41st minute sending-off, compounded by the fact that referee Mark Geiger missed Leitch’s obvious retaliation, which should have resulted in discipline for him, as well.  Pursuant to Major League Soccer’s rules, the straight red earns Harvey a 2-game suspension. The decision will most likely be appealed.

CB Danny Califf (7)- As we said about Valdes a few games ago, while Mondragon has rightly been rapidly gaining notoriety around the league for his immense ability, the defense directly in front of him should also be receiving a large amount of credit for Philadelphia’s quick turnaround from porous last season to impenetrable so far this season.  Further, the imposing presence of both Califf and Valdes has allowed Piotr Nowak and the technical staff to develop more offensive-minded tactics without having to worry that they will be left vulnerable at the back.  As we saw against San Jose, the Union can be successful defensively with just Califf and Valdes hanging back.  Even down a man, the side did not have to abandon the attack, which allowed them to secure the home win they were seeking.

CB Carlos Valdes (7.5)- Another stellar defensive outing from Valdes, especially so as he and Califf were given even more responsibility than usual with both wingbacks pushing up high early on.  Then, after Harvey’s ejection, as the Union continued to attack, it was the steady hand of Valdes that insured that no quick counterattack or long ball challenged the Philadelphia goal.  So solid has Carlos’ play been that it seems fruitless to try and point out the myriad positive plays he makes in this space.  Instead, one must try and identify any mistakes.  As has been the case more often than not this season, there were none against San Jose.

RB Sheanon Williams (6.5)- Along with Harvey, Williams spent the first half-hour of the match joining a relentless Union attack as the center backs alone held the fort in front of Mondragon.  Made an impact early, earning a corner in the 13th minute, and remained a part of the action even after Philadelphia went down a man.  Along with his long throws, which have become an integral part of the attack, especially on the occasions against San Jose when the defense was not ready for a quick restart, Sheanon was again a positive influence on the opposition’s side of the pitch.  When the time came for Williams to defend, the results were not as strong, but neither were they highly disappointing.  Sheanon’s weakness remains judgment of long balls in the air and understanding when to step up and gamble.  However, his speed has so far allowed him to recover on mistakes, an attribute that will make him all the more valuable as his technique continues to improve.

MID Amobi Okugo (8 *ASN PHILLY MAN OF THE MATCH*)- Left as the sole defensive midfielder to help anchor the defense, it was trial by fire for the rapidly developing Okugo.   From early on, it was clear that Amobi was up to the task, as he not only stood tall in defense, but was happy to keep the ball and move forward to initiate the attack.   Then, at halftime, when Stefani Miglioranzi came on to take on the lion’s share of the defensive responsibility, Okugo shifted to a hybrid role and found himself pushing forward as the Union’s attack continued to gain momentum, even with the man disadvantage.   First, he trailed the attack in the 70th minute when a failed clearance came to him and he took a strong shot from 25 yards that forced Jon Busch into action.  Then, the payoff came in the 76th minute, when a strong run into the box ended with an attempted cross that struck the hand of Earthquakes defender Jason Hernandez and resulted in the ultimately game-winning penalty kick, converted by Le Toux.  Okugo’s versatility is fast making him invaluable to the Philadelphia side.  It is going to be incredibly difficult to keep him out of the starting XI from this point forward.

MID Sebastien Le Toux (7)- Le Toux still struggled with his first touch in traffic, but the attacking formation at the outset gave him a little more room to work with, and Seba took advantage from the kickoff on.  Sebastien made threatening runs, combined with Torres, Ruiz and Mwanga on several legitimate scoring opportunities and used his speed to get behind the San Jose defense with regularity.  There was also the nifty move that took him into the penalty area only to be derailed by a hard challenge from Sam Cronin just before he took his shot.  A bit of a breakout game for Seba, even without the results in the run of play.  Of course, all of this took a backseat to Le Toux’s 1st goal of the season off of the 76th minute penalty kick, the only goal of the match, driven down the center and toward the top of the goal.  Seba remains the team’s designated penalty taker and has yet to be denied in that role as a member of the Union.

MID Roger Torres (6)– A somewhat surprising start, as Piotr Nowak and his staff unveiled a much-welcomed attacking lineup at home.  Tasked with manning the middle of the front three midfielders, Torres would need to prove that he could be the engine of the attack, opting for the simple pass more often than the homerun ball.   He definitely showed a bit more discretion than we’ve seen from Roger, although the only serious chance involving him was a shot attempted on Jon Busch’s near side in the 16th minute after receiving a deft pass from Carlos Ruiz that Busch parried relatively easily.  With his first start of the season, Torres showed a continued improvement in poise and presence.  Unfortunately, before anything tangible could materialize, he was taken off at the half for defensive purposes in place of Michael Farfan.

MID Keon Daniel (7.5)- Daniel is beginning to really put his imprint on the Philadelphia side, taking more initiative and gaining more trust from his teammates and the coaching staff with each passing game.  Keon took control of the buildup from the left flank, allowing Le Toux and Torres the room to operate and move forward.  Daniel’s play became even more vital when Jordan Harvey was sent off in the 41st minute, first moving back to cover the vacated left back position to close the 1st half and then taking on even more responsibility as the team continued to push for a goal in the 2nd half.  In particular, his combinations with Michael Farfan and Le Toux down the wing were invariably productive.

FWD Danny Mwanga (6)- A capable, not spectacular effort from Mwanga against San Jose, as he was able to use his possessions well, either turning upfield or linking with his teammates.  Where Danny still needs to improve is his off-the-ball presence.  We’ve all by now seen him turn on that extra gear, the one that most people, even professional athletes, do not possess.  However, this seems only to occur when Mwanga already has the ball and can smell the goal.  Rare is the occasion when he will turn on the jets to make a center run or make a challenge that could change the game in the final third.  When he shows that level of stamina and work ethic, though, he will be among the league’s elite.  Mwanga was brought off for extra midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi at halftime after the Union went a man down.

FWD Carlos Ruiz (7)- For possibly the first time since joining the Union, it can be said that Ruiz truly worked with and for his teammates against San Jose.   Taking more of the distributor role in this match, he first combined with Roger Torres and Seba Le Toux for an early chance, then found Torres in the 16th minute with a ball that sprang Torres for shot on goal.  He also made himself available with runs into the area, notably receiving a ground cross from Le Toux that resulted in a shot that was blocked.  In the 2nd half, Ruiz continued his good work, highlighted by an exchange in the 70th minute in which he received a ball in from Michael Farfan, turned and found Le Toux, and laid it off for what was the best opportunity the Union had all day during the run of play.  Came off for Kyle Nakazawa in the 83rd minute.

MID Stefani Miglioranzi (6)- Came on for defensive purposes at halftime after Harvey was sent off, replacing Danny Mwanga.  In a shorter burst than his usual role up until now as a starter, Migs was far more effective than he had been in recent matches.  He consistently battled for every ball, made several key tackles and kept his wits about him when he found himself in possession in a hotly contested midfield.  Obviously, it is not likely that a defensive midfielder can be considered a super-sub, but we must remember that it is a long season and Stefani will still be needed even if he is not to return to the starting XI on a consistent basis.  It was reassuring to see that he will be ready when called upon, regardless of the role he is asked to play.

LB Michael Farfan (7)- Came in for Roger Torres as the new left back in a suddenly defensive formation following halftime, the Union apparently shifting their goal from win to scoreless draw a man down.  However, this clearly was not the case, as Farfan, in his professional debut, showed an adroit capacity for pressing up and not only joining, but engineering, the attack.  Several combinations with Keon Daniel and Sebastien Le Toux led to real chances for the Union as they seized control right at the outset of the 2nd half.  In addition, Farfan showed true competency at the back, a role he had not taken on at lower levels but has been groomed for since the beginning of the season in training.  Another in what is becoming a long string of pleasant surprises for the Union early on in this campaign.

MID Kyle Nakazawa (N/A) Came on for Carlos Ruiz to help salt away the game in the 83rd minute.

4 Comments For This Post

  1. COYS Says:

    Your pro-Ruiz garbage is exactly that. Garbage. For every clever pass he makes, he clumsily turns over 3 or 4 and his refusal to make runs for his teammates continues to befuddle and limit Le Toux and Mwanga. You picked out two plays from 83 minutes of work, yet failed to remark on the majority of his play, which as usual, was lazy and below-par.

  2. Sam Toma Says:

    There were actually 3 plays mentioned, not 2. Please keep it civil in the future. Thank you for your continued readership.

  3. Chris S Says:

    Contrary to your Harvey description, sn’t a red card suspension merely a 1 game suspension? I believe the same rule applies to a straight red card as does a double-yellow red card unless a disciplinary committee tacks on further punishment?

  4. Sam Toma Says:

    You are correct. We apologize for the error. In fact, the team is appealing the red card in an attempt to have the suspension nullified. However, if the team loses the appeal, there is a risk that an additional game could be tacked on. Read more in the links below:

    http://www.brotherlygame.com/2011/4/30/2146691/shorthanded-union-claw-their-way-to-another-1-0-victory-over-san-jose

    http://www.phlsportsfan.com/2011/05/02/shenanigans/

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. The Philly Soccer Page » Union top SA rankings, praise for Farfan and Okugo Says:

    […] ASN Philly names Amobi Okugo the Man of the Match in their player ratings of Saturday’s game. […]

  2. ASN’s Best XI, Week 7: Bruin impresses but Davis fuels Houston statement win | American Soccer News Says:

    […] DEF: Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia) Another stellar defensive outing from Valdes, especially so as he and Califf were given even more responsibility than usual with both wingbacks pushing up high early on.  Then, after Harvey’s ejection, as the Union continued to attack, it was the steady hand of Valdes that insured that no quick counterattack or long ball challenged the Philadelphia goal.  So solid has Carlos’ play been that it seems fruitless to try and point out the myriad positive plays he makes in this space.  Instead, one must try and identify any mistakes.  As has been the case more often than not this season, there were none against San Jose. – Sam Toma, ASN Philly […]

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