The season opener is in the books. It is the team’s second game in four nights and the week ends with one important win and an uninspired tie. Sunday’s game was a disappointing offensive outing, but a very solid defensive one, as they held the score to 0-0 with really very little quality attempts on goal from the Philadelphia Union. So how do we score the individual grades? As you can imagine, they will be mixed.
A grade of C means a player did no more than his job required of him.
Christian Dean made his first appearance in a year and a half, and he made it a good one. After a difficult series of injuries and personal tragedy, Dean put in a very solid defensive display. He was the in-house man of the match for competently playing within himself and consistently making the safe play. I guess for a game with a 0-0 score line, that warrants MOM. Dean played most balls that came his way safely out of bounds, he was good at clearing balls out of the air, and the odd time came back and made a sparkling play to win the ball in the box.
Parker, Williams A-
For their part in a clean sheet, they too surely deserve an A. Parker was so effective closing down the back I hardly noticed him, and Williams was defensively solid. But there needed to be some offense in the game, and while you can’t lay the offense on their shoulders alone, some crosses from Williams and a better headed effort by Parker off the cross would have helped. Hey, A- is a good grade.
The new captain also gets an A-. He played his part in the clean sheet and got off a screaming point blank shot on goal that careened off the defender at the far post.
They shut down the defensive mid very well and both had some fine tackles, particularly a very gutsy sliding tackle in the box from Jacobson (I believe. It was at the far end of the pitch from me.) near the end of the game. They lose points as they were important cogs in the link-up play with the forwards and weren’t often able to spring anyone loose (maybe the forwards should notice how Montero is always looking for an angle to run).
With Pedro gone, the question is, who is the engine of this team? It looked like it could be Manneh at times, but aside from a few good moves at the top of the box, not much happened from him.
I know, that is not a real grade. But I so like his offensive flair combined with his ability to defend and win the ball back. He looks dangerous every time he gets the ball on the end line. I’d like to see him find some space in front of goal and get some shots off.
Techera shanked one of the two stellar attempts on goal the team had all night. I am always looking for a little more from Techera: the quick turn or the surprising acceleration, and the industriousness he showed his first season to anticipate the ball and be first on it in front of goal.
Once Shea and Montero subbed in, the offense changed for the good. Shea seemed to bring the ball up the wing more and find himself in numerous dangerous positions to score. Only, he often tripped over himself or scuffed the ball. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt here. It is only his second game with a new team he has only just met and on turf that surely takes some getting used to. I choose to see the positives with Shea, and I believe once he settles in we will see him produce.