1) This game was all about the midfield battles and the Dynamo were largely successful in those battles but struggled to transition the ball into productive opportunities. Clark and Garrido showed both their defensive dominance along with their ability to contribute offensively.
2) The Dynamo deserved more than a draw in this game, but soft goals - especially late, have become a theme this year.
3) The Dynamo front office did a fantastic job of getting just a few of their legends back for pre and post game festivities. Brian Ching, Pat Onstad, Dwayne De Rosario, Craig Waibel, Mike Chabala, and Eddie Robinson made many fans happy by conversing and signing autographs.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tyler Deric (6) - The Dynamo gave up one of their softest goals of the year on a corner kick where Tyler Deric needed to be more vocal about marking assignments. Obafemi Martins's equalizer was one of the poorest goals the Dynamo have given up all season, but Deric had a few other notable stops that kept the Dynamo in it including a point blank stop on Dempsey in the first half and a beautiful diving save to deny Dempsey again on a free kick.
DaMarcus Beasley (6.5) - Fresh off international duty, DaMarcus Beasley returned to the defense well without his usual partner to his right, Raul Rodriguez. Beasley aided Rodriguez's substitute, Sheanon Williams, by pushing into his spaces and helping prevent central runs by the Sounders. Beasley also linked well with Brad Davis in the offense often to create chances pushing up the field.
Sheanon Williams (6) - With a pair of tackles and some intercepted passes, Williams did well adjusting to the center back position while filling in for the suspended Raul Rodriguez. Despite generally stepping into passes well, at times his willingness to over commit and a lack of positional awareness led to Seattle opportunities.
David Horst (7) - Horst quietly amassed 8 intercepted passes and had one of his best sliding challenges of the year to deny the Sounders one of their better scoring opportunities of the afternoon. Horst often eliminated any aerial chances by the Sounders by heading crosses that came his direction away from danger.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6.5) - While the "Boniek at right back" experiment is still in beta testing, this was an example where Boniek was able to showcase his defensive acumen. Boniek made several crucial tackles, passed with 87% accuracy along the right side of the field, and blocked a Seattle shot around the Dynamo 6 yard box.
Leonel Miranda (6) - Miranda was able to pass very efficiently on the left side of the field and the right side when he swapped positions with Brad Davis, but he lacked some of the urgency moving up the field that the Dynamo really needed to push the offense into scoring positions.
Brad Davis (6.5) - Davis's most vital moment in this game was his assist to Ricardo Clark. Davis received a ball and squared it to an open Clark rather than swinging a cross in which led to the opening goal of the match. Davis linked well across the midfield and was often putting the ball to the feet of Dynamo players looking for goal.
Luis Garrido (7) - Garrido began the play that led to the Dynamo's only goal of the match by stealing a ball and making a pass to Davis despite being fouled (and it was an excellent decision by the referee to play advantage on the play). Garrido was a menace in central midfield accumulating 3 tackles and 8 intercepted passes, but he was over ambitious with some of his challenges which led to 7 fouls called against him.
Ricardo Clark, MotM, (8) - Rico Clark has put together a strong case for the Dynamo MVP this season. While many assumed his age would lead to a declining year, he's scored as many goals this year as he has in the previous 2 combined and twice more than he's scored in any individual year with 8 goals on the season. Against the Sounders, Clark calmly beat Stefan Frei with an outside the 18 yard box effort to put the Dynamo up in the 65th minute. Clark caught Frei moving in the opposite direction and coolly knocked the ball in from distance with an easy low range shot. Clark passed efficiently, tackled well, and consistently pressured Sounder players in central midfield.
Giles Barnes (6) - While Barnes officially lined up as a forward, he was often utilized as an attacking midfielder due to the midfield battles that this game had. Barnes against Osvaldo Alonso was intriguing at times, but Barnes often opted for safe passes to not give up possession. Barnes helped lead a few attacks, but lacked some of the grit and drive that we saw from him earlier this year. Being in the midfield, Barnes was able to contribute to defensive stops which helped jump start a few counters for the Dynamo.
Will Bruin (5.5) - Bruin had the lion's share of shots for the Dynamo, but many came from difficult angles. Due to many of the midfield battles and the struggles to get the ball to the forwards - along with Chad Marshall clearing or stealing everything, Bruin didn't see many touches, but his hold up play and quick flawless passing did help generate chances.
Alex Lima (5.5) - Alex came on for Miranda in the 74th minute and helped increase some of the defensive pressure in some areas.
Mauro Manotas (6) - Entered the match for Will Bruin in the 87th minute and had a pair of very good looks on goal to put the Dynamo up, but one shot was saved and one was away. Despite the misses, the increased energy that Manotas brought helped keep hope alive, but one has to wonder what Cubo would've done with those shots.
Rob Lovejoy (N/A) - Came on for Brad Davis in stoppage time and made a single pass which isn't enough for a fair grade.
Coach Owen Coyle (6) - Coyle's lineup was largely successful as the Sounders have a difficult offense to beat and it was largely neutralized by Clark and Garrido centrally and by Beasley and Boniek on the wings. Still, offensively this game lacked creativity and players seemed out of sync playing passes to no one. One must wonder why Manotas was the first striker off the bench other than Cubo, but in Coyle's defense, Manotas was able to come up with a few close chances.