5 quick observations about this one:
1) Bruin and Barnes are linking up extremely well. They created plenty of opportunities for each other. Right before Bruin's goal (you know, the one that had a Barnes assist), Bruin tried to find Barnes in space which almost worked.
2) Garrido and Clark are our version of the "Bash Brothers" from D2 Mighty Ducks.
3) Counter attacks that go around or over the "Bash Brothers" are still a big vulnerability.
4) Andre Blake had 7 recorded saves...let that sink in. Great pick up Philadelphia Union.
5) We're becoming a very unselfish team, and it is working for us. We're picking our chances and targets better and aren't forcing efforts. In short, we look comfortable on offense (and that makes me feel comfortable).
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tally Hall (6) - Our man in the net helped earn us a shutout after making a few great saves following nervous moments. Hall hasn't been great 1v1 with other players (it's a hard skill to master) but held his own against Sebastien LeToux after a quick counter attack by the Union.
Kofi Sarkodie (6) - Sarkodie struggled to contain the speedy Danny Cruz, but did well enough to help keep Philly off the scoreboard. Sarkodie sent in a few excellent crosses as well, but many were snatched up by Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
David Horst (6) - Horst held his own and made things difficult for the Union attack. He was a little reckless against Danny Cruz, who made things very difficult for the Dynamo, with a late challenge that rightly saw him yellow carded.
Jermaine Taylor (5.5) - Taylor too performed fairly well, but at times did struggle to keep defensive shape. He and Hall also poorly communicated resulting in a poor backwards pass by Taylor, but the error didn't end up costing the Dynamo.
DaMarcus Beasley (6.5) - Beasley made the left side of the field very hard to get through, though LeToux proved to be the exception to that rule. His offensive contributions this outing was fairly limited as the offense mostly flowed through other players such as Barnes and Boniek.
Luis Garrido (7) - Garrido and Clark in their three games together have two shutouts. Garrido was once again a beast in the midfield making monster tackles and made sure that opposing players not only knew they were being marked, but that they felt it too.
Ricardo Clark (7) - Clark was my man of the match for the first half, and could be a good choice for the entire match. Clark was everywhere in this game and showed a lot of activity on the offensive end and came up with some of the best chances on goal in the first half. He and Garrido remind me of the "Bash Brothers" from the D2 Mighty Ducks movie because they are the midfield enforcers.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6.5) - Boniek was less of a dribbler and more of a distributer against the Union. He took players on less, but his passing seemed much sharper, notably a laser of a pass that found the head of Clark which had tons of pace and was delivered perfectly.
Brad Davis (6.5) - Davis had a few chances of his own, once after he settled the ball, tried to fake a cross, and then shot, but Blake didn't fall for it and saved the effort. Davis's service was also superb as he dished out a pass to Barnes that led to the game's first goal.
Giles Barnes, MotM, (7.5) - I heard somewhere that Barnes and Bruin had been putting in extra time working together and it seems to have paid off. Barnes found Bruin time and time again - including once through four defenders and once for the assist.
Will Bruin (7) - Regardless of what some of you may think Bruin had an outstanding game. He had more shots and shots on goal than any other player on the field, scored, and did his best to involve his teammates and he did it all coming back from an ankle injury. Sure, some of you may point to his 1v1 with Andre Blake, but Bruin actually controlled the ball well there and I credit Blake with an amazing save.
Andrew Driver (6) - To me, Driver has been playing better than he has all year. Maybe that's because the supporting cast of players is finally in sync or maybe it's because he's better coming off the bench, but Driver is going out there burning people with his speed and earning corner kicks and sending in some decent balls.
Omar Cummings (7) - Cummings was on the pitch for 3 minutes plus stoppage time and helped us earn one goal. That's pretty darn good production if you ask me. Cummings found space easily against a tired Philly back four and casually sent in a cross that was lazily blocked which found its way into the net.
Brian Ownby (N/A) - Ownby wasn't out there too long, but didn't quite have the effect that Cummings did coming off the bench.
Coach Dominic Kinnear (6.5) - This was a much needed win and we could've had a few more goals considering opportunities like Bruin hitting the post and his 1v1 with the keeper. Our "Bash Brothers" stopped a lot of attacks going through the middle and we saw great link up play between lots of our players. Still, there were a few weaknesses that we observed that Philly couldn't capitalize on. We're not great against the counter attack (if it's over or behind our CMs). We saw long balls on the counter hurt and counters on the wings hurt the team. Still, the team held strong and earned the shutout. This squad has lots of potential on both ends of the field and hopefully they are hungry for the playoffs.