As I mentioned in the preview, this game had the makings of a trap game. The Revolution came out highly motivated to turn their entire season around as the least scoring team in MLS. They ended up doubling their goal tally by scoring twice...on Tally. The opening 15 minutes or so were dominated by both teams feeling each other out. By that, I mean there was no real winner in terms of possession, both teams turned the ball over constantly, and if you played a drinking game to how many times the ball went out of bounds you probably missed the rest of the game - good for you. After that, the Revolution found ways to press the Dynamo by flexing their 5-man midfield and gained momentum by simply stopping our own momentum followed by a quick counter attack rather than steady build up play. This led to rushed chances by the Revs, but chances nevertheless. The Dynamo were able to absorb most of this pressure until one defensive miscue opened things up for New England. After that, the Dynamo found more chances, but were killed on the counter and left exposed. This led to the second goal of the match which was Tally Hall's gaffe for coming off his line to challenge a ball which he didn't get.
My point of sort of recapping this in the player ratings is to show that while the defense/goal keeper made errors, they absorbed chance after chance the entire match. However, I am firmly in the camp that if you keep the ball near someone's goal long enough, eventually it'll go in, and that's what happened.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tally Hall (6.5) - Hall kept the Dynamo's hopes in this one by making several big saves. Even after the first goal and the Dynamo switched out of a defensively oriented style of play he made some good stops. He did really flub on the second goal and should not have gone out to try and win that ball, and for that he loses my man of the match vote.
Kofi Sarkodie (6) - The Dynamo defense as a whole was able to withstand most of what New England threw at them. Sarkodie was very good at making some of these stops, but he like most of the Dynamo failed to make a significant impact further up the field.
Jermaine Taylor (4.5) - Taylor is still not looking like his usual self, and though I don't think he was completely responsible for the Dynamo loss, I understand why people might think so, and his poor clearance into Teal Bunbury's leg led to Kevin Alston's goal which changed everything (goals usually do). If we're being fair to Taylor, a goal was coming regardless of his gaffe...but it was his gaffe and with his form this season, we all kind of knew it may be on him if a goal was leaked.
A.J. Cochran, MotM, (7) - The rookie who was given his first big minutes last week against Dallas earned the start. Cochran did more than enough to prove he had a place in this lineup as he won nearly every header that came his way, made crucial stops that kept the Dynamo from leaking a goal, and was a target for set pieces and crosses. He just needs to work a bit on his aim with his headers, but he'll get there. Many Dynamo fans are already calling for a Horst/Cochran CB tandem due to Taylor's slow start to the year, and I'd be okay with that if Cochran continues to play at this level.
Corey Ashe (5.5) - Ashe made a few good runs on offense, but as the Dynamo failed to maintain possession in the middle and final thirds of the pitch, he was forced into tracking back and defending most of the game. He covered effectively on the defensive end, but was lacking on the other end of the field - which is the story of the match for the Dynamo.
Ricardo Clark (6.5) - Clark made at least one crucial tackle around the box to keep things level, and did his usual disruptive work against the Revs even though he was outnumbered. He also did his best to try and revitalize the offense, but the Dynamo really couldn't find their groove in that area of the field.
Andrew Driver (6) - Driver was slotted in his more comfortable left side as Davis sat out so he wouldn't aggravate his ankle injury on New England's artificial turf. Driver played much better than he had in recent weeks and played with more energy than many of our other midfielders or forwards. Driver won the ball in dangerous spots, tracked back on defense well, and was typically making good runs when the Dynamo made attempts on goal.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6) - Boniek tried to be the energy-bringer that he usually is, but was often slowed in the midfield. He went off for a short while in the first half after a knock, but re-entered the match and didn't show signs of lingering pain or injury.
Tony Cascio (5) - Cascio was a bit of a non-factor in this game and he really shouldn't have been. Early into the match the Dynamo played out wide as they were feeling out the Revs, and it was fairly evenly matched with the ball not staying in their half as much. Then they stopped and Cascio saw less of the ball and the Dynamo had to sit back most of the time. Cascio wasn't very active defensively when he should have been, but didn't see much of the ball either. His only really memorable moment in the match was his shot in the first half that went over the crossbar - at the time it was the Dynamo's best look on goal.
Giles Barnes (6) - Barnes continued his streak of doing lots of good things, but failing to find the goal or an assist. Barnes had at least one clever flick that nearly turned things in the Dynamo's favor, but those chances were stopped by the Revs. Barnes's headers and passing seemed a bit off, but he was still able to make a few dangerous runs in.
Will Bruin (5) - Where's Will? This game was won in the midfield by the Revs and the forwards suffered because of it. Whenever the Dynamo got it up the field, it was usually to an overlapping midfielder or to Barnes. The few times Bruin had a chance on goal he usually passed it away. I believe that's a sign of a lack of confidence. Bruin did play well defensively, managing some clearing headers, and he did play better when Cummings was in the game, but overall "Where's Will?" is the question many of us were asking while watching.
Warren Creavalle (5.5) - Creavalle came on for Cascio after the goal was scored and pushed Boniek back onto the right side. This improved the quality of play on the wings, but the Revs ran through the middle as Clark pushed higher up and Creavalle was burned in the process a few times. He wasn't bad, just the midfield battle was over and even though the Dynamo gained some ground with Creavalle, they were beaten too often on the counter attack as they were caught too high up the field.
Omar Cummings (6) - Omar Cummings came on for Driver and had a few good runs. The ball never really fell to his feet which really would have opened things up, but a few of the long lob balls were almost effective at least. Cummings showed that just by being on the field he's capable of drawing at least two defenders and that opened things up a bit more for Bruin late.
Coach Dominic Kinnear (6) - I really want to be a bit harsher with this one because the game was winnable. New England came out to not only redeem their loss to us in the beginning of the year, but really to redeem for a lousy start to their year. Kinnear's side was looking to bounce back after two straight losses, one being a big loss to rival FCD, but we looked very content on sitting back and allowing the Revolution to dominate the midfield. One reason they did win was because of their 5 man midfield, but our defenders never really pushed up to help us win those necessary possession battles. To Kinnear's credit, the tactic of sitting back and making the most of the opportunities given was working until the Revs opened up the scoring which forced a tactical shift. That shift allowed for more opportunities for the Dynamo, but that 5-man midfield killed the Dynamo on counter attacks.
Presently, we're left with more questions than we had going into the match. Some of those questions include: Given Taylor's and Cochran's performances, who gets the start next week? Forward production continues to be a problem, so does Dom shake things up or ride it out? Road woes, even to weaker opponents, have been a theme for the Dynamo nearly every year - how does the Dynamo figure out how to win outside of our comfort zone?