It's impossible to write up these ratings without some clarification about how I personally viewed the game as I observed two distinct Dynamo squads at BBVA Compass this last Saturday. First of all, it's easy to say that referee Ricardo Salazar had a significant impact on the game. It's also something that I completely agree with, but at the professional level teams have to adjust to poor calls and being down a man. Rarely do I see teams fall apart quite the way the Dynamo did after the David Horst red card - seriously, on the first play their set piece defending was a mess. That being said, before the red card, the Dynamo really looked like the better side. They moved the ball into the attacking 3rd of the field fairly well despite a Dallas side that was marking our guys very tight which narrowed passing lanes. They also didn't give up when Dallas was awarded a questionable penalty kick and found a way back into the game.
This game was very polarized in how the Dynamo played with the red card being the moment of change, so I encourage everyone that disagrees or has any kind of insight at all about the game and how the players played to please comment. The question that is eating at me is how does playing down a man affect players and tactics and how should I, or we, weigh our judgments based on those factors. It's just the kind of question that I think helps us understand the performances better. On to the ratings!
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tally Hall (5) - It's really hard to ever fault a goalkeeper for not stopping a penalty, and even though Hall guessed the right way on the penalty kick awarded to Dallas, Michel's kick simply had too much power underneath it as it went in. Hall made a point blank save against David Texeira, which is up for save of the week, so please go vote. Hall commanded his line well until the David Horst red card which saw a massive drop in communication from the back. David Horst was the vocal leader in the back, but Hall should have stepped up and taken charge. Who is in charge of the defensive back line is an excellent question for debate by the way.
Kofi Sarkodie (6) - Sarkodie helped draw a penalty after the Dynamo were down 4-1 with roughly 10 minutes to go, a move that could have energized the Dynamo to score more, or at the very least made this game sting a little bit less (too bad OBG missed from the mark). Sarkodie helped make the right side of the field the more difficult side to push through as it seemed Frisco's preferred way into our defensive third was through the center. I've criticized Sarkodie's 1v1 defending in the past, which is an area that he's really improved in by the way, but the opening penalty came from a pass from a player that Sarkodie was marking, and that pass shouldn't have ever been allowed to be made as Eddie Robinson rightly pointed out during the game.
Jermaine Taylor (4.5) - Taylor's play has to be something on everyone's mind week in and week out. He's simply not playing up to his usual standard. In this match, he made a couple of brilliant tackles to deny scoring opportunities, but he also committed silly fouls, one of which led to a yellow card. On top of those defensive deficiencies he was also passing particularly poorly, which led to a number of turnovers in really bad places. He needs to be aware of his partners around him, not make silly fouls, and keep his head up so he can make smarter passes. All of these things sound easy because watching it on TV makes it look like FIFA, but it isn't. I'm hoping most of these problems go away because Taylor looks to be a lock at one of the starting CB positions.
David Horst (6) - David Horst's sending off showed us exactly how important he is in our defense. He has become the new Boswell as the vocal leader and as the stout defender (especially in the air) that the Dynamo need. I sort of warned about some of his physical play in the last match and that it might get him into trouble, but I was mostly thinking of a persistent infringement kind of thing that could lead to a yellow card. I definitely didn't see his tackle as a red card, which to be fair could have been a yellow and was a bit reckless.
Corey Ashe (5.5) - Ashe's pass to Barnes early in the game was absolutely perfect. It went behind the defender marking him and between two defenders covering Barnes/anyone in the middle. The last goal of the game came from Je-Vaughn Watson and Ashe really should have been covering that side/Watson. Of course, being down a man makes it difficult, and Frisco never let up on their attacks.
Ricardo Clark, MotM, (6.5) - Ricardo Clark was allegedly the man that brought down Mauro Diaz that earned FCD the penalty which led to the opening goal. After watching reviews what I saw was Clark fall down after missing a tackle and Diaz getting the slightest bit of contact and going down quite gingerly (more on this play later). Clark was one of the most active players in the Dynamo attack notching the 2nd most shots on the field for either team, and he grabbed a goal thanks to a perfectly placed Davis free kick.
Andrew Driver (5.5) - Driver has struggled on the right side of the field this season. He does not sync well with Sarkodie as they both make similar runs up the field and strand the other behind. Driver's game actually significantly improved when Davis was pulled and Driver switched to the left side of the pitch, but shortly into the 2nd half he was pulled so the Dynamo could have 4 defenders in the back.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6) - I'm going to say that this rating was the most difficult for me. On one hand, Boniek and Clark patrolled the midfield very well together. They made things happen in narrow spaces and got the ball to players in good positions. Boniek was also a victim of some nasty tackling by Hendry Thomas (which of course amounted only to a yellow card). But, remember earlier when I said you can't blame a goalkeeper for not stopping a penalty kick? You can totally blame someone for not scoring one. Boniek was tired, and he tried to rush the kick to waste as little of the clock as possible. Unfortunately it didn't go as planned.
Brad Davis (6.5) - Davis was one of the best players on the field...while he was on the field which was half the game. He defended deep when he needed to, he somehow found an outlet pass which created an opportunity, and he got an assist right after an ankle injury that required him to be subbed off before halftime. We're all hoping that his turned ankle doesn't affect him too much and that he'll be available for selection this Saturday.
Giles Barnes (4) - Giles Barnes had the opportunity to get the Dynamo up early in the game following a perfectly placed ball by Corey Ashe, but his shot went straight towards FCD keeper Chris Seitz. Giles Barnes had the most shots and the most shots on goal on the field, and really did everything but score - if we exempt his own goal. It seems Barnes's least favorite player in the league is now former Dynamo player Je-Vaughn Watson. Watson lost Barnes and scored which allowed Frisco to take the lead for the 2nd time in the match, and a few minutes later, Barnes scored an own goal because he had a hard time seeing around Watson. Barnes did a lot to help push the Dynamo attack, but his lapses on the defensive side of the ball which ended up costing us two goals really set his rating back in my mind.
Will Bruin (5) - Bruin struggled to find the ball in this one, and his best chances came in the first half. His best chance of the night was just before the 30 minute mark and he beat Matt Hedges on the dribble, but his shot went straight to Chris Seitz. After this, Bruin disappeared and was never seen from again other than a few passes here and there. I've noticed that the Dynamo really struggle to win games, or even draw games, when they don't get the ball to Bruin. Whether that's a function of Bruin not getting into position to get the ball, or the Dynamo opting to pass to another player is up for debate. Bruin didn't do much to increase his stock, but he didn't make many mistakes when he did have the ball (other than a few very poor passes and a shot right at the keeper).
Tony Cascio (6) - Cascio came on for Brad Davis just before halftime and really helped energize the right side of the field. Sarkodie began making better runs, and we defended as a whole unit better with Cascio on the right and Driver on the left. He fell off a bit after the red card, like most of the Dynamo.
A.J. Cochran (6) - Cochran made his debut, and boy did he have his hands full as a rookie in his first outing with lots of time still on the clock. Still, he did mostly the right things. None of the goals scored against the Dynamo were his fault (the own goal and Ashe's poor coverage on Watson were the goals scored while he was on the field). It was a promising start for the rookie who may see more playing time this Saturday if David Horst's red card isn't rescinded.
Warren Creavalle (-) - Free Warren...didn't happen today, but it was good to see Creavalle back on the field. Creavalle came on late in the game, and didn't see too much of the ball.
Coach Dominic Kinnear (5) - This one is tough as well. The Dynamo came out, had some bad calls and things went downhill. Actually, the Dynamo played right back into the game after the penalty kick and continued to play well and with confidence until the red card. Kinnear made the right subs throughout the game - he didn't want to risk further injuring Davis so he pulled him and put on Cascio, he put in a center back so the Dynamo could have 4 players in the back, and he put on a multi-positional player in Creavalle because Creavalle probably earned playing time and with 6 minutes of regulation time and being down by 3 goals it wasn't likely that it made a huge difference anyways. This game mattered though, and the lack of organization in the back could be due to the lack of voice there, but that's when Dom needs to be the voice from the side. I'm sure he was dropping all sorts of F-bombs and other attempts to motivate his side (that's right, an F-bomb can be motivational), but it was all for naught...and against Dallas...err Frisco.
The Officials (red card!) - Let's get right into it: the penalty kick that was called had very minimal contact as two Dynamo players tried to strip the ball from Mauro Diaz and then Diaz fell over the legs that were in front of him and the kick from the spot was awarded. It wasn't even a dive, he just fell awkwardly, and slowly over Ricardo Clark. The calls that Salazar made seemed to be very inconsistent. As I mentioned, Hendry Thomas was doing his best to clobber Boniek and Fabian Castillo even managed a horse-collar style tackle from American Football, and that only managed to earn him a talking to. Horst's challenge, while reckless, didn't deserve a sending off. A yellow card would have been enough to keep things in check. Lastly, our penalty kick: I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that goalkeepers during a penalty kick situation are only allowed to move side to side on the goal line until the ball is kicked which then you can move up. If you look closely at the replay, Seitz jumps forward before Boniek makes contact with the ball. If I'm wrong about the rules, please disregard that (or change the rules so it's right).
Overall, the ref didn't make calls consistently. He let a lot of bad things go, and then he (maybe) tried to compensate for it by calling the lighter challenges. The PK and red card both seemed overly harsh and not completely clear cut examples of either case. What do you think? These are just my thoughts on the challenges and my year as being a linesman for youth leagues (as a youth) hardly makes me an authority.