The grades are in, and they aren't pretty for Brad Knighton after his first start in Major League Soccer. Knighton's fumble of a loose ball - and ensuing tackle on Brek Shea, which resulted in a red card - led to FC Dallas' first goal and completely changed the momentum of the match.
To make matters worse for Knighton, Chris Seitz made a number of stellar saves despite being under the weather. Yes, Seitz gave up three goals, but David Ferreira's penalty was unstoppable and the Union's back line could not stop Jeff Cunningham on the other two.
Things had looked so good after Alejandro Moreno finally scored his first goal of the season to give the Union an early lead. But everything fell apart after Knighton's dismissal, and Cunningham drove two nails in the coffin with his goals.
Cunningham was named MLS' player of the week by the North American Soccer Reporters, of which I'm part. I voted for Cunningham with very little hesitation. You can see the voting breakdown here.
A lot of players got votes, including Columbus' Steven Lenhart after his two goals against the Union this past Thursday. Seattle's Fredy Montero also left an impression by scoring a goal and setting up the other in the Sounders' 2-0 win over Houston late last night. But Cunningham's impact in just 45 minutes at Pizza Hut Park was as decisive as it gets from a halftime substitute.
What concerned me most from the Union game was not Knighton's struggles, but those of the other debutant: Juan Diego Gonzalez. From my perspective, it looked like the Colombian defender was beaten rather directly on both of Cunningham's goals.
Cunningham is still one of the fastest and most dangerous strikers in MLS, and Gonzalez is just getting settled in with his new club. But that was not a great first impression.
Before getting to the player ratings, one more thought from me about Knighton and Seitz. I know that many people have called for Knighton to start this year. I have defended Seitz a lot, and I know at times I've looked for ways to excuse Seitz from blame. But no matter what you think, I think yesterday made it clear that Seitz is the starter.
If Peter Nowak ever has doubts about that, I am sure he will be forthright in telling us. Nowak is an honest guy, and he has not been afraid to critique his players in his public remarks.
There is a long tradition in this town of singling out one position for blame after losses, especially because of the Flyers' history of goaltending issues in the playoffs. But the Union aren't the Flyers, and I have no intention of falling into the trap of fitting a new team to old storylines.
With that said, now it's time to find out what our fan voters thought of the Union's performance. There are a lot of great comments here, and I hope you'll add yours below.
Brad Knighton: 1.75
- "To all the "Start Knighton Now" folks, put that in your pipe and smoke it. Seems our GK situation is worse off than some think." (Andrew Dillon)
- "Have to pin the loss on him entirely; minimal pressure on him and no excuse for the error. Cannot expect the team to play with 10 men in triple digit temperature." (Jeff P.)
Chris Seitz: 5.13
- "I'm not sure if Nowak intended to give Knighton a real shot or to see how Seitz would respond. Either way, he certainly learned something. " (Nathan M.)
Juan Diego González Alzate: 4.75
- "Gonzalez was, ahem, uneven... I guess he fits right in with our back line." (Osager)
- "Left much to be desired in his debut; completely out of position on the second FC Dallas goal." (Jeff P.)
Cristian Arrieta: 4.38
Danny Califf: 4.50
Jordan Harvey: 4.25
- "Jordan Harvey seemed especially heavy-of-touch today, apparently he's not his best in the heat." (Osager)
Michael Orozco Fiscal: 4.75
Eduardo Coudet: 5.63
- "Fred's lack of a first touch wasted as good an opportunity as the Union will see all season." (Nathan M.)
Andrew Jacobson: 5.38
- "Would like to see more of him off the bench. Perhaps we will if Miglioranzi is still on the shelf." (Jeff P.)
Justin Mapp: 5.13
Kyle Nakazawa: 4.63
Sebastien Le Toux: 5.50
- "What can I say about Le Toux that hasn't already been said? I know he never knew heat like that growing up in France. Still, he soldiered on, creating chances out of nothing. Credit him with a big assist on the goal." (Osager)
Alejandro Moreno: 5.63
- "Thrilled for Moreno finally netting his first goal this season. Could've been a prettier goal, but beggars can't be choosers." (Andrew Dillon)
- "Moreno did his job. Ugly goal, but it was a goal." (Ethan Gomberg)