After a few days off, and the conclusion of International call-ups, the Houston Dynamo took on FC Dallas for the coveted El Capitan. The game itself was a truly entertaining match for the fans, and had its intense moments here and there. For the most part, the game was back and forth with each team dominating possession for prolonged periods in the first and second half. I had the opportunity to see the game first hand, and the point of view definitely gave me a different look at the players, the play, and the nuances you just can't catch on television. I feel adequately prepared to properly rate the players this week, so please join me after the jump.Starting XI
Brian Ching - B- -- Man, how close did Brian Ching's header come? Again, this game of inches can be a rather cruel mistress, and Cap felt the full brunt of her displeasure. His legs aren't what they used to be, and it shows. I could point out multiple times he was unable to follow a run into the box, or even beat a defender when it was just the two of them and the ball. Sure, he's aging, but he's putting forth the effort and this week it did show as he caused more problems for the FC Dallas defense. A goal would have definitely made this an A performance.
Will Bruin - A -- The early goal was the epitome of what Will Bruin's chances have been almost entirely since coming into the league. There is something to be said for skill, but there is also something to be said for a prolific poacher who almost always finds himself in the right place at the right time, and doing the right things to boot. The first goal had no business going in, but it did, and Bruin's effort is only matched by Ching's effort. Kudos Dancing Bear. Kudos.
Brad Davis - C- -- We all knew coming back from the knee injury he suffered one game shy of the MLS Cup last season would be not only tough, but hard to take in at times. This week was one of those weeks. He still has that magical service from the corners and on any and all set pieces, but his ability to cause problems for defenses with his passing and movement off the ball has become severely limited. I still think we need to give him more time to adjust again, and I think he truly will. And when he does? Look out MLS, the real Brad Davis is coming...
Je-Vaughn Watson - A- -- Look, I owe Mr. Watson a huge apology. He has gone out there in the face of repeated harsh criticism from the media and fans. He didn't look great for sustained periods of time leading up to the match against the Gals a few weeks back, but now he looks like a completely different player. Who knew he had talent under that raw exterior? Dom knew. I took a look at the Opta stats from the game, analyzing some of it, and was impressed with what I saw from Watson -- more on this probably later this week on Thursday or Friday or maybe next week. Also, who knew Watson possessed Moffatbomb capability from range? Holy hell that shot was close!
Adam Moffat - A- -- Ok, sure Moffatt looks out of sorts quite frequently, and hasn't really looked on his game whatsoever the last, well the entire beginning of the season. The game he had against FC Dallas is a return of form for Moffatt to last season where he had his coming out party for the Orange. Let's hope his head is screwed back on straight going forward, because after checking out the Opta stats, he is an absolutely vital part of this team. To sate your appetite for stats, Adam Moffatt had as many touches on the ball as Brad Davis did -- including all of Davis' set pieces. Yes, really.
Calen Carr - B- -- The injury to Carr spells what I believe is the end of his run as a starter for the Houston Dynamo. It's sad, too, as what I saw from him in the opening minutes of the match was what I had hoped to see from him as a RM. He was finding the game, and was doing a hell of a job causing issues up top on the right. The moment he was subbed out for Colin Clark the entire dynamic of the offense and defense changed. When Carr was in, Taylor had an easier time on defense as Carr tracks back much easier. When Clark was in, Taylor was beat down the line repeatedly, and almost gave up a goal if not for a beautiful job on the opposite side of the field. He meant a lot more to this team than we thought, and losing him even with OBG on his way stings a lot.
Corey Ashe - A- -- I had a great vantage point for the first half as far as Ashe's play is concerned. Early on, there were a few mistakes made by Geoff Cameron and of all players, it was Ashe who came to his rescue -- REPEATEDLY. Ashe wasn't just making defensive stops, he was giving Jackson fits for much of the first half. Admittedly, I could not see how Ashe's play in the second half had improved or declined, but his passing was not exactly bad and setup a couple of chances in the run of play thanks to heads up ball movement early on. Kudos to Ashe for what was in my mind a pretty solid performance.
Geoff Cameron - B+ -- After shaking off a bit of rust from his severe lack of International playing time -- which in my opinion he definitely deserved far more than he was given -- he did finally settle into form. It took about half of the first half (the first quarter?) for Cameron to get back into his regular MLS form. When he is in his MLS regular season form, he is stellar, and toward the end of this game he was the Cameron we all know and love -- STELLAR. His set piece presence and ability to cover back quickly on defense is a return welcomed.
Bobby Boswell - A- -- Look, I'm not going to beat around the bush. Bobby Boswell fooled me. He fooled me bad. I had him pegged for old legged and outside his prime. Apparently, not only was I wrong, but I was dead wrong. He made constant runs getting back to help cover Taylor, and it showed. Boswell was in the thick of things when it mattered, and even more to the point he kept his head and avoided a devastating red card ejection -- even avoided a card at all, bravo my good man. With all of that, I had to give him a high rating. He just looked like the Boswell I used to believe wholeheartedly in. Welcome back, Boz. You were missed.
Jermaine Taylor - B+ -- While he was beat a couple of times down the flank, he did well in one v one. However, he did lose his man once or twice, and even did get beat twice one v one from what I saw. Give him credit, though, as he is not a speed demon. If he could ever learn to cross even remotely decent, he'd be a no-brainer going forward. I'm having a tough time deciding between him and Hainault on a continual basis, and that speaks to how good he is. This game, though, he didn't play totally up to that level, but he played damn well near it.
Tally Hall - B+ -- He had a pretty solid game, with multiple quality saves. He looks more and more like Pat Onstad in the box, and that's a very good thing. He is nowhere near perfect, but he is easily a top keeper in MLS. And he's still young enough we are certain to have him for at least a few more seasons. Which is awesome. Unless he decides he likes the lure of another league elsewhere -- don't do it Tally! We love you!
Colin Clark - D- -- I'm going to rip so hard on Clark for his abysmal performance. He didn't look good, he looked terrible. He couldn't beat his man on the flank, and a few of his passes weren't even anything to write home about. Further more, his lack of pace is easy to spot after he comes in for Calen Carr. In the end, Clark just wasn't what I know he can be, and maybe he just can't ever get back to that level due to his injuries. I'll hold out hope, but not for much longer. It might be time to look for a place to trade him to for some money or just to get rid of his contract.
Macoumba Kandji - A- -- Ok, I do love Dixon and think when he returns from injury he has the potential to prove he's better than his USOC performance would lead us all to believe, but right now my mancrush has switched gears to the one and only Kandji. His pace is stellar. His runs on and off the ball are unpredictable, but timed just right to cause the opposing defense fits. There is no higher praise I can give a player than this: I am damn well glad we picked him up, because on any other team, he'd probably be a starter, and we'd be burned. He had a couple of darting, dashing runs up the side through and past defenders that nobody else seemed capable of providing on offense. LOVED what I saw from him.
Luiz Camargo - NA -- I can't really give Camargo a grade based on his limited action -- yet again. I need to see him truly play a full half or game with the starting eleven to truly be fair. As a substitute, he did generate some ball movement, but when with the lead he was relegated to hold the line so to speak. Still, give him credit because he was all over the offensive third, and he did manage to free Kandji once or twice on some nice breaking runs with picture perfect passes.
Agree/disagree? You know the drill.