Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tally Hall (6.5) - Hall made several key saves to keep the Dynamo in the game. He can't be faulted for his back line being caught flat footed on the opening goal, and penalty kicks are just plain hard to stop from going in. Even if he had two chances to do so.
Kofi Sarkodie (5.5) - There were several plays that could have changed the game due to inconsistent or, in some cases, substandard officiating. None of these affected the outcome of the game as much as the penalty kick awarded after a Sarkodie handball. To me, it's very hard for head referee Kevin Stott to know whether or not this was a clear handball. He may have gotten it right (although I'm leaning slightly the other way...slightly because it's tough to tell to be honest), but this was a defining moment of the game. Other than this play, Sarkodie did well to adjust to the speed of the game, but didn't quite look in sync with right midfielder Andrew Driver.
Jermaine Taylor (4.5) - Taylor's inexperience on this kind of turf coupled with his road to recovery from an injury during the offseason allowed Darren Mattocks to run through Taylor constantly. Mattocks wasn't the only one to exploit the central defense, but it was clear Mattocks chose attacking through the center rather than out wide due to a clear speed advantage.
David Horst (6) - Horst could be pushing his luck a bit with his physicality, as he shoulder checked several players and got away without a whistle most of the time. He was very quick to adjust to the quick tempo which Vancouver played with for a few stretches of the game (usually by slowing things down with a "slight" nudge from his shoulder) and brought a tenacity that, despite the speed and quality passing, made the Dynamo defense hard to break down. I also have to say that you wouldn't like Horst when he's angry!
Corey Ashe (5.5) - Ashe had the most quiet night of the defenders, but was able to get the ball up the field more effectively than the Sarkodie/Driver right side. He was able to quickly adjust to the counter attacks and long balls, but still didn't shift centrally enough to cover enough ground and didn't provide his usual level of service.
Ricardo Clark, MotM, (7.5) - In my mind, Clark was the guy that figured out how to slow down Vancouver for long stretches of the match. He knew Morales was the key and he did what he always does: disrupt, dispossess, and distribute (also tackle really well and score a goal in this game). Clark scored the goal after a vintage Brad Davis free kick which brought back some hope to the Dynamo in the final minutes of the game.
Andrew Driver (5.5) - Driver on the right just doesn't seem to be working. Here's why I think that: Sarkodie and him both make similar runs which doesn't allow for much overlap (both make long runs near the chalk on the right side of the field). They both also have to get back the same way, which opens up passing lanes for the opposing team. Driver had a few glimpses of brilliance in which he turned a few defenders and crossed in a good ball, but I think he needs to be on the left side to really be effective.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6) - Boniek had apparently been ill for part of the previous week, and he was still feeling some of the effects. Boniek did not display all of the quickness nor creativity that usually defines his style of play. He wasn't by any means playing badly, as he helped push the ball up quite well. I'm just saying he wasn't playing up to his usual standard which makes sense if he was still sick.
Brad Davis (7) - Davis was nearly my "co-man of the match" (which is totally something I can do) due to his fierce play. Davis drove the attack and was able to get back on defense very quickly. He showed the Dynamo faithful he still could deliver assists from a dead ball, something many of us had wanted to see. His assist by the way was his 102nd which ties him with Jaime Moreno for 5th most assists of all time.
Giles Barnes (7) - Barnes was finding the ball and space when not many others could. He had 7 shots on goal, which is 4 more than anyone else on the field (although only 2 were on target) and he constantly found ways to be a threat. He also showed us some of his playmaking abilities best observed early in the 2nd half when he provided a nifty back heel to set up a Brad Davis shot on goal.
Will Bruin (4) - Will Bruin had a tough outing in Vancouver. He didn't see very much of the ball, and found opportunities for goals hard to come by. His passing and footwork, both things I gave him praise for last week, seemed amiss. He frequently turned the ball over, sometimes in bad parts of the field and never really got his "Bear tear" going. At times he showed flashes of his confidence and form, but overall it was a lacking performance from our leading goal scorer as he managed just one shot that wasn't on target.
Omar Cummings (5.5) - Cummings came on for the likely exhausted and sick Boniek and Cummings looked to shake up the Dynamo offense. A few of his runs helped stretch out the ‘Caps defense, but our eventual formation (at the end consisting of 4 strikers) led to a lot of time spent chasing the ball with the home side content on possessing and exploiting our thin backline.
Brian Ownby (6) - Ownby came on for Jermaine Taylor and found himself in a couple of good opportunities, though was forced into mostly defending. It's good to see Ownby getting first team minutes and with this his 2nd consecutive game that he's gotten minutes he has to be doing something right during games and practices.
Mark Sherrod (6) - And speaking of players getting minutes, this is Sherrod's 3rd consecutive game (out of 3) that he's gotten playing time. This is a rookie and Dom trusts him that much. Sherrod is constantly winning balls in the air and I'm looking forward to seeing more of what he can do.
Coach Dominic Kinnear (6.5) - Kinnear has never had an easy time playing north of the border managing only once to get all 3 points. That being said, this game really felt evenly matched. Yes, the Whitecaps had the flashier tries on goal with their amazing long and accurate passes that led to shots and their forwards blazing past our center backs which created opportunities, but the Dynamo slowed the game down and allowed it to be the kind of tough and physical game that suited their style of play. The Dynamo scored a goal off a set piece, which was lacking last year, and the Dynamo nearly earned a draw if a questionable penalty kick had not been called against them. Overall, this was a good effort and though the sting of defeat still lingers due to questionable officiating (more on that below), the boys in orange played well against a tough opponent.
The Officials (4) - Some of you may be thinking "a 4! Are you mad?" Well maybe. The biggest issues with the officiating doesn't have to do with the calls that were made, it was the calls that weren't made. The inconsistency with calls, to me, was appalling. A Whitecaps player gets nudged: foul! A Dynamo player gets taken down hard in the penalty box: keep playing! Sure, Horst got away with a lot (he did, let's admit that), but the Dynamo were denied at least two penalties, at least according to Simon Borg.
I also have to note that Sean, aka Fuzion, has a great piece about the differences between the replacement referees and their subsequent replacements (the real ones) and it's worth a read.
The Field/Turf (ugh) - There's a lot of talk about artificial turf in this league and the usual consensus amongst fans and players alike is that it's bad. The group that usually says it's just fine is usually Seattle fans (or any other fans of a team that plays on artificial turf). There are loads of arguments against grass and artificial turf, but consistent kinds of fields make consistent playing conditions (see where I'm going with this). The field at BC Place in Vancouver uses one of the most unusual kinds of artificial surfaces and is one of the most frequently criticized surfaces in the league. While watching the game there were players slipping all over. I believe it had rained there, as per usual in the Pacific Northwest, but I noticed Davis and the person defending him both slip when they weren't running or making contact with each other. Turf has to be at play to some degree and the Dynamo simply don't play at this facility enough to know how to play on it. This isn't an excuse for how the Dynamo played especially early into the game, but more of a general frustration. The argument about turf shouldn't be about which surfaces are okay or not, but it's the same thing Sean wants from officiating: consistency.