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Player Ratings: Houston Dynamo vs Toronto FC

The Houston Dynamo offense challenged Toronto early and often in the first half and were rewarded with the lead before halftime. However, a red card to Cochran had the Dynamo against the ropes, but a spectacular effort by Deric saw the Dynamo through 1-0.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

5 quick observations about this one:

1) Tyler Deric with the performance of the year? Deric saved a pk and made several difficult saves which allowed the Dynamo to take all 3 points on the road.

2) The 4-3-3 really looked good while we had all 11 players. The players moved the ball and exploited holes in the TFC defense and they all defended deep.

3) Was Cochran's ejection called for? It'll be a talking point.

4) The team got it done without its star Honduran midfielders in a notoriously difficult place to play for the Dynamo.

5) 3 HUGE points to keep the Dynamo playoff hopes alive.

Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:

Tyler Deric, MotM, (10) - Maybe it's just because I'm writing this right after the game, but I believe Deric put in one of the best goalkeeping shows of the year by any keeper in MLS. Deric tactfully read Jermaine Defoe on the penalty kick and made save after save to keep the Dynamo in the game and still alive in the playoff hunt despite being at a man disadvantage.

Kofi Sarkodie (7) - Sarkodie was sharp on the defensive end and cleared the ball well, though at times struggled with the long ball and nearly helped Toronto get on the score line by trying to play the offside trap. Still, Sarkodie managed to notch an amazing assist with a long ball of his own and make a goal line clearance.

David Horst (6.5) - Horst's defensive clearances kept the ball out from around the Dynamo goal which provided opportunities to regroup defensively and counter on the offensive end.

A.J. Cochran (6) - AJ Cochran was ejected in the 55th minute for his challenge on Luke Moore. The official immediately pointed to the spot, a correct call in my opinion, but also went into his pocket for a red card for Cochran. There will be plenty of discussion on the call, but it remains controversial and hopefully the Dynamo can appeal it.

DaMarcus Beasley (7.5) - Defensively Beasley was able to track back, shield balls, and prove troublesome for TFC attackers. We also finally got to see a bit of what Beasley can bring when he moves up the field. Speed, dribbling, and an ability to take on multiple defenders were all showcased in this game, and he may have gotten a goal if his feet didn't slip and slow because of the weather conditions on the field.

Servando Carrasco (5.5) - Quietly had a decent first half despite some poor passing out of central midfield, but became much more involved on the defensive end in the second half as he was called upon to make blocks, stops, and important tackles.

Ricardo Clark (6) - Clark helped transition the ball to the offensive end very well, and although there were a few poor passes backwards from Clark, he put in a full effort to chase the ball and defend it.

Brad Davis (7) - Davis played in a higher up position in the first half and we saw plenty of dangerous looks by him with the ball at his feet in the Toronto final 3rd. Davis nearly scored following an Andrew Driver cross, but his deflection of a shot hit the post. Davis also sent in a perfectly placed cross to Omar Cummings, but Cummings's shot was saved by Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.

Andrew Driver (6.5) - This was perhaps the best game of the year for Andrew Driver who played in a left winger role or a left mid role when Davis wanted to move up the field. Driver's service looked very good in this game and his set piece delivery, taken after Davis had left the pitch and while Barnes was receiving medical assistance, looked pretty good and required a good save by Bendik. Defensively, Driver forced several turnovers in the midfield, and knew his place in marking not just the players with the ball, but their targets as well.

Giles Barnes (7)
- Barnes was a threat for the Toronto back line for most of the evening. He took on defenders he knew he had an advantage with, such as Nick Hagglund, and could've had several more goals than the one goal he did score. Barnes beat his defender and shot the ball around the keeper to score the game's only goal which helped earn the Dynamo 3 points.

Omar Cummings (6.5) - Cummings nearly scored a couple of goals but was twice denied by Bendik. Cummings defended very deep in the Dynamo defensive 3rd of the field and defended very well notching a block, an interception, and several clearances. It was a solid effort by the forward who had to be subbed off early to make room for Eric Brunner so the Dynamo could have a full back line following A.J. Cochran's red card.

The Subs:

Eric Brunner (5.5)
- Came on for Cummings to secure the back line after the Dynamo went down to 10 men.  Brunner mostly cleared the ball away from danger and made solid defensive stops on the ball, but failed to make an impact moving the ball to other Dynamo players. Brunner only had 1 successful pass in the entire game which showed the Dynamo were more than content with getting the ball out of harm's way and regrouping.

Brian Ownby (5) - Entered the match for Brad Davis late in the match. Ownby made a few successful runs with the ball which used up a bit of the clock, but a poor challenge just outside of the 18 yard box set up a dangerous opportunity for Toronto to equalize.

Jason Johnson (N/A) - Came on in the 97th minute of the game (you read that right) and may have touched the ball once.

Coach Dominic Kinnear (7.5) - The Dynamo got a win in a place where they've only won once before and they got it at a crucial time and without two of their star midfield players. Kinnear's decision to play in a 4-3-3 really paid dividends as the Dynamo were easily the more dangerous side in the first half of the match and were able to take the lead before halftime. When Cochran went out, Kinnear decided to park the bus and protect a 1-0 lead with a man down which worked thanks to superb goalkeeping by Tyler Deric.