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Player Ratings: Houston Dynamo vs Columbus Crew SC

The Dynamo bested Columbus Crew SC 1-0 for their first win of the season. The Dynamo took the lead thanks to a Giles Barnes strike, but had to endure a strong comeback effort by Crew SC to hold on to the win.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This is my third season writing player ratings on the Houston Dynamo and it was nice for the Dynamo to get 3 points on Saturday to mark the day.

My scale is a simple 1 - 10 and it's typically very hard to get anywhere near the extreme ends of that scale. It would take a perfect effort to get a 10 (lots of goals, lots of hustle, lots of awesomeness) and a very poor effort to get a 1 (lots of own goals, lots of turnovers, lots of not-awesomeness). That's really it and the goal of these ratings is to use them as a jumping off point and as a benchmark to discuss everyone's impressions of player performances. We all watch games differently and it's important acknowledge what we may have missed rather than simply telling someone else that they watched the game wrong.

Opening Thoughts

1) Although many of the starters from last year are still around and starting, the team is still adjusting to the tactics and strategy that head coach Owen Coyle wants to use. The biggest takeaway for me was the tradeoff between offense and defensive efficiency that we saw after Will Bruin was subbed off. We ended up winning and finally producing a goal, but we gave up a lot more chances to Columbus on the other end. 4 of Tyler Deric's 6 saves came after Bruin was subbed off and there were many more off-target chances as well.

2) This is a quality Columbus side, make no mistake about it. Crew SC is built to possess the ball and pick and prod until they find openings to exploit, which they did and it required a Herculean effort by goalkeeper Tyler Deric to preserve the Dynamo win. It's really important for this squad to gain confidence with wins against quality opponents and, though it wasn't pretty, picking up 3 points and not drawing or losing makes a difference for a team in the Western Conference.

3) I discussed in the preseason the importance of strong play out wide and from the counter attack, and that continues to be where the Dynamo excel the most at. Ricardo Clark was a one man wrecking crew in the midfield and transitioned the ball to offense very well while the game's only goal started from Kofi Sarkodie out wide. These styles of play are going to be very important for the team until it fully transitions into the possession based style that Owen Coyle would like to see.

Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:

Tyler Deric, MotM, (9) - Deric had very little to do the 1st half, but a huge 6 save effort (not a typo) in the 2nd half preserved the lead which earned Deric a spot on the MLS team of the week. Deric wasn't the best player on the field for the entire game, but his heroics in the 2nd half eclipsed other player's efforts for my Man of the Match nod.

Kofi Sarkodie (6.5) - "It's just a flesh wound", Sarkodie likely said after his collision with teammate Raúl Rodríguez which resulted in a gash in his head that forced him to change jerseys twice. Sarkodie has become very good at moving up the field and taking on defenders on the dribble which led to his assist in this game. Defensively, Sarkodie's game wasn't up to his usual standard due to a few poor giveaways, but he did play well overall and defended higher in the midfield as well.

Raúl Rodríguez (6.5) -Rodríguez played Crew SC forward Kei Kamara with perhaps more space than he should have which led to a few opportunities like Kamara's header in the 53rd minute of the game. However, this spacing also allowed Rodríguez to create the illusion of a safe outlet and Rodríguez was quick to intercept the pass or make the necessary clearance time and time again.

Jermaine Taylor (5) - Taylor had a pretty inconsistent game on both ends of the ball. At times he would intercept a pass or clear the ball, but he seemed to make too many errant passes out of the back and had trouble winning aerial battles with his markers.

DaMarcus Beasley (6) - Beasley showed us flashes of the left back/wing back that he can be by quickly advancing the ball and creating an opportunity for the Dynamo. He doesn't look like he's lost much of a step, but at times his tackling seemed off and he likely got away with a foul or two in this game.

Luis Garrido (5.5) - This rating may seem harsh, but the reality is Garrido has not looked as good as he was last season. In this game, a lot of Garrido's tackles were poorly timed and he gave the ball away more than any other Dynamo field player.

Ricardo Clark (8) - My Man of the Match for the first half, Clark simply did it all. He forced a lot of errors in the midfield which led to limited first half chances by the Crew, and he tried to jump start the Dynamo offense several times, notably his run through the whole field (where he probably should have passed the ball off) which resulted in a shot off-target.

Brad Davis (6.5) - The Dynamo Captain showcased his adeptness over set pieces as one of his free kick attempts forced a very difficult save by Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark. Davis tracked back well defensively and pulled the strings at times for the offense.

Oscar Boniek Garcia (7) - Boniek played at least 4 positions for the Dynamo in this game starting at right mid, moving to the left at times (switching with Davis), before splitting time as a 2nd striker and central attacking midfielder. When Boniek played this "shadow striker" role, the Dynamo offense was at its best as his ability to create chances and take defenders on the dribble opened up players around him which made the team dangerous.

Giles Barnes (6.5)
- Apart from his goal and another brilliant play that nearly led to another goal, I thought Barnes had a fairly quiet day at the office. Simply put, the team struggled to get him involved on the offensive end of the field. Let's talk about that goal though because it was something special. Sarkodie cut the ball inside beautifully and Barnes one-timed the ball in the top of the net.

Will Bruin (4.5) - I'm a fan of the dancing bear and think he's a quality striker, but his biggest weakness is his need for space in order to become effective. Usually this means other players need to take defenders off him in some way, but when that doesn't happen, he struggles. In this game, Columbus eliminated Bruin's effectiveness by closing in on him each time he had the ball. 2+ defenders would circle him, and it inevitably ended up with a poor shot or a turnover. I don't think that Bruin had a bad game, but strong Crew SC defending limited his effectiveness and isolated him in this game prompting Owen Coyle to sub him early.

The Subs:

Leonel Miranda (6)
- Miranda coming on forced a tactical change for the Dynamo which moved Boniek Garcia into the shadow striker role. Miranda was nervous out there, evidenced by his escaping first touch, but his defensive efforts and pressure helped him build his confidence as the game wore on.

Chandler Hoffman (N/A) - Hoffman didn't play enough time to earn a fair player rating.

David Horst (N/A) - Didn't play enough time to earn a fair player rating.

Owen Coyle (6) - A win is a win, but this one could've gone either way. Before the tactical change, the game was fairly balanced and each side lacked bite on the offensive end, but afterwards we saw a momentum swing that favored Columbus, despite our goal coming in this time and our offense looking a bit more together. Still, it was a risk that worked out well for the Dynamo as they stroll into week 2 with their heads up high with 3 points.