5 quick observations about this one:
1) Two half soccer dominates this team again: very threatening first half by the Dynamo and then a second half spent mostly defending.
2) Omar Cummings got behind the Chicago defense with ease and worked very well with Giles Barnes again.
3) Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson had 8 saves (8!) and 3 punched balls. That's incredible and he really proved to be the difference between a draw or even a win and the outcome that did occur.
4) The Fire pounced on miscommunication issues and set piece opportunities. The Dynamo failed to make some clearances and it nearly cost them a few goals.
5) Dom's final game with the Dynamo was not how anyone wanted it to go (unless you support the Fire), but did reflect how the season went. We'll still miss ya Dom!
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tyler Deric (5) - Deric seems to have lost a bit of the steam since he was given the main job in goal after Tally Hall's season ending injury. Deric only had to deal with 4 shots on goal and didn't look nearly as confident as he has in other games which led to a few poor decisions on his part. When Jermaine Taylor motioned to him to come out and challenge a ball on the play that led to the penalty kick against Houston, he should've yelled back and told him to kick it out of there. Then Deric wouldn't have accidently tackled Quincy Amarikwa which led to a penalty kick and Chicago's opening goal. Deric was also shown a yellow card for handling a ball outside of the box. While the call itself was somewhat controversial, had another defender not been next to him he could've seen a red card.
Kofi Sarkodie (6) - Sarkodie had trouble marking in the back at times and often cut too far into the middle leaving David Horst to cover the wing, but overall Sarkodie provided excellent support and made a couple of key passes that allowed the Dynamo to advance offensively.
David Horst (6) - I originally had Horst ranked lower until I went through some of his stats. Horst, while a bit too feisty with Amarikwa and other attacking Chicago players which led to a couple of dangerous free kick opportunities for the Fire, still managed to block shots, intercept passes, and make several key tackles.
AJ Cochran (5.5) -Cochran made several big clearances around the Dynamo 6 yard box. When the ball just wouldn't get clear, Cochran was often the one to boot it out. Cochran's passing was accurate, though he did struggle with a few long balls over the top. Cochran nearly found the net following a very strong header, but Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was there to prevent Cochran's first career MLS goal. Late in the game, Florent Sinama-Pongolle managed to get himself in front of Cochran which led to the final goal of the match ending the Dynamo's chance to leave the Windy City with a draw.
Jermaine Taylor (3) - Taylor was my flop of the match. He simply created too many turnovers by forcing the long ball and his best defensive efforts were interceptions he made when he was perhaps a bit too far up the field. Taylor actually enjoyed a fairly successful first half, as did the rest of the Dynamo, but he really struggled when Florent Sinama-Pongolle came on. Taylor also had the gaffe of the night on the play leading up to the penalty. While it was Deric who committed the foul, it was purely accidental. Taylor should've never allowed it to get to Deric and should've cleared the ball from danger long before it neared the 18 yard box.
Servando Carrasco (6) -Carrasco earned the starting role in the defensive central midfield position after Luis Garrido was suspended by the Disciplinary Committee for his challenge against Lee Nguyen last week. Carrasco was strongest in his simple short passing which allowed him to distribute the ball to the wings or up to Ricardo Clark quickly. Carrasco did give up a silly pass just outside of the Dynamo 6 yard box and hit a few too many balls over the top that went to no one, but overall had a consistent albeit quiet evening.
Ricardo Clark (6.5) - Even though Clark lined up as a central attacking midfielder, he really played a box-to-box role. Clark showed tremendous effort in his work rate and looked like one of the hardest working players on the team as he was able to glide through the midfield with ease. This was one of the few games where one Rico didn't hit the crossbar taking a shot and in fact elected to not take any shots in this match.
Brad Davis (7) - Davis was granted the freedom to roam nearly all over the field, though was often on his usual left side. Davis completed passes at a very high rate, rarely turning the ball over to the Fire. Several of his passes helped created chances for the Dynamo, and his service on set pieces remained very strong as he was able to earn an assist credit following one of his corner kicks. Defensively, Davis recovered the ball all over the field from our defensive end to high up the midfield.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6) - Nearly found the goal after a lot of confusion in front of the Fire net, but his short range shot wasn't enough to get by Sean Johnson. Boniek moved the ball well through the field, but struggled to make a larger impact on the defensive end.
Giles Barnes (7.5) - Barnes registered 7 shots, more than twice any other player on the field. Of those shots, 4 were on target which was, again, twice more than any other player on the field. Barnes did everything but get the ball in the net as he showed his ability to play make with the ball at his feet, his passing abilities, and he created shots for himself. Unfortunately, 3 of his shots were blocked and he couldn't sneak a ball passed Sean Johnson.
Omar Cummings, MotM, (7.5) - Cummings proved to be trouble for the Chicago back line all night as his pace, strength, and dribbling abilities appeared to be in high gear. Cummings actually sped by Lovel Palmer and Palmer fell over - probably because of the wind generated by Cummings's speed. Cummings scored the Dynamo's only goal and it showed another aspect of his game that is rarely discussed: his strength in the air. He scored a very difficult header following a Brad Davis corner and gave the Dynamo the lead in the first half.
Will Bruin (4.5) - Will Bruin played 25 minutes against the Fire, but rarely asserted himself. Bruin had only a handful of touches on the ball, and while his passing was accurate (he never turned the ball over), he simply didn't get involved in the game enough and wasn't the impact substitution Dominic Kinnear had hoped he would be.
Tony Cascio (5) - Cascio made his first appearance for the Dynamo since his early season injury and the rust did show.
Andrew Driver (N/A) - Came on for Brad Davis in the 87th minute, a bit too late for a fair grade.
Coach Dominic Kinnear (6) - This was not the end that Kinnear had envisioned. The Dynamo this season have often been burdened by playing two distinctly different halves of soccer in the same game and this match was no exception. The Dynamo looked the stronger side in the first half and 9 of the team's 14 shots came in the first half with all but 1 being on target. The second half contained the remaining 5 shots, but had only 1 of those shots being on target. The Chicago Fire came out of the locker room after half time and really took control of the game. They forced errors in our defense and exploited poor clearances and fouls given up by the Dynamo while the midfield struggled to hold the ball and move it up to the forwards with the same ease they had in the first half. Still, Kinnear put out a competitive lineup in a game that really didn't matter because Kinnear needs to win. That's part of who he is and why we'll miss him. Thanks Dom.