1) This was an important 3 points for confidence. Despite the team playing well this year, especially on the defensive end, they haven't gotten the results they wanted. After losing to a 10-man Seattle, defeating an opponent 3-0 does a lot to restore confidence on both ends of the ball.
2) The team won 3-0, but don't look way too much into the win. Listen, the win was nice, but the game was largely controlled by Montreal and they had a mid-week game in Costa Rica (Montreal to Costa Rica to Houston is A LOT of travel in a week). They also controlled the ball far more than the Dynamo and they took more shots. The Dynamo were able to succeed due to their continued ability to absorb opponents' attacks, but also because their offense finally found the scoring gear.
3) As it stands, this formation/team will find success offensively through set pieces and counter attacks and we saw all 3 goals scored in those ways. This team is not built for possession based build up play - not yet anyways, so the team needs to quickly support runs up the field after a change in possession. If we examine Ricardo Clark's goal, we see a perfect example of a team supporting a run. When Rob Lovejoy gets the ball and heads down field he's supported by 3 other players going against 4 defenders + the keeper. That's basically a 4 on 4 chance and the odds don't get a lot better than that. If the team can continue to support those runs, we'll see more goals scored.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tyler Deric (7.5) - Deric put in another impressive performance collecting 5 total saves while keeping the Montreal Impact off the score sheet. Despite a few impressive saves, Deric's defensive line in front of him could have used more direction as opposing players were allowed to shoot, capitalize on individual mistakes, and keep the ball in dangerous areas too long, often coming from Sarkodie's side of the field.
Kofi Sarkodie (5) - There weren't a lot of touches taken by Sarkodie as the right side of the field wasn't utilized as often as it had in previous fixtures. Sarkodie managed to make 3 tackles, one of which was a quality tackle on Ignacio Piatti in the box in the 31st minute. One problem Sarkodie often had was his positioning as he was often caught too far up the field which led to counter attacks by Montreal who exploited the space vacated by Sarkodie.
Jermaine Taylor (6.5) - Taylor was able to continue his run of intercepting errant passes from opposing teams as he collected 4 against the Impact. Taylor passed the ball well out of the back completing 85% of his passes, but Taylor could not continue his strong aerial form which was something that was lacking for all Dynamo players.
David Horst (6) - Raúl Rodríguez sat out after last match's collision with Tyler Deric so David Horst answered the call to start (as has been the norm). The Taylor and Horst pairing has been far more successful than it was last season, but communication breakdowns across the line continue to prove problematic. Kofi Sarkodie often played too far up the right side and Horst was forced to cover both his area/man along with Sarkodie's leading to breakaways and errors by the Dynamo defense. Horst played incredibly well in light of having to cover an extra part of the field during dangerous moments, but poor passing (especially for a center back where passes are often short), poor aerial defense (for Horst), and a huge mistake in front of goal before the 10th minute reduced Horst's overall performance rating.
DaMarcus Beasley (7) - Beasley had one of his best games of the year as he was able to notch 5 tackles and 4 interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. DMB continued to demonstrate his comfort pushing the ball into attacking areas of the field and he helped draw a foul at the corner of Montreal's 18 yard box in the 65th minute to set up a dangerous free kick opportunity.
Nathan Sturgis (6.5) - The Sturge was one of the better, if not best, players in the first half of the match. Early into the first half, the game was dominated by the Impact and Sturgis did well to neutralize many of these attempts by clearing the ball with well timed headers or movements to gain position to steal the ball. He cooled off a bit in the 2nd half, but a lot of that had to do with the Dynamo picking up their offensive rhythm.
Ricardo Clark (8) - Clark is a close 2nd Man of the Match and if I started doing "Co-Men of the Match" now would be the time to do it, but I'm not so Clark can simply share the rating with Giles. Clark is my early MVP this season and it's because he is the glue of the team and can really do it all, which is what he did in this game. Defensively he intercepts the ball - he had 3 in this game, he makes big tackles - he had 6 tackles (the most of any player), and positions himself well to do those things based on where his opponents and teammates are. Offensively he can take one of his interceptions and make terrific runs at the goal. His decision making isn't always perfect going at the goal, but he's a strong passer and he knows how to score which is what he did to put the seal on the game as his chip put the Dynamo up 2-0. Is a team with Ricardo Clark as its best player a MLS title contender? Probably not, but Clark is still playing great soccer despite concerns about his age and health by fans.
Luis Garrido (6) - Despite a 100% passing accuracy, Garrido has not quite looked the player we thought he could be. He's still making tackles, albeit sometimes with too much gusto, and is making it difficult for opponents to move through central midfield, but the mistakes are becoming more noticeable. The missed tackles, the physical tackles that led to free kicks, and the communication issue with Horst early in this game stood out in his performance.
Brad Davis (7) - I don't think that this team can lean on Brad Davis to be the difference maker and impact player that he once was, but he's still an incredibly talented player with vision, excellent passing abilities, and he's becoming a smarter defender. Davis picked up one of his signature assists which came off a free kick. The kick curled in beautifully to find Giles Barnes who redirected it into the net. Davis tracked back well to help defend and he picked up 4 tackles (more than any Montreal player) and he blocked a shot.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (5) - For much of the time while Boniek played he was sliding around on the slick field until he changed his cleats. Boniek was able to provide some help defensively and he threaded a few good passes that led to opportunities, but he was far from the usual offensive maestro that he typically is.
Giles Barnes, MotM, (8) - This was easily Barnes's best performance of the year. Despite not having a lot of support in the lone forward role, Barnes took it upon himself to get in dangerous positions to win the ball and shoot. Barnes helped the Dynamo dominate the game by creating a variety of offensive opportunities despite possession heavily favoring Montreal - 33.5% vs. 66.5%. I already mentioned that Barnes opened up the scoring for the Dynamo, but he was very close to finding the net on two other occasions. One of his shots came after a 1v1 with the keeper, but his chipped shot glanced across the goal out of bounds. The other was a shot that hit the side crossbar. Barnes also helped in a big way with Ricardo Clark's goal. Barnes was coming from an offside position and had he touched the ball or interfered with it, the goal wouldn't have counted. Barnes recognized this and got out of the way to allow Clark to score. Whether or not he impeded a player from defending Clark is debatable, but his recognition of the situation and his actions afterward were enough to convince the officials that the score should now read 2-0. Barnes's role in this game helped earn him, along with rookie Rob Lovejoy, a spot on the MLS team of the week.
Alexander Lopez (5) - Each game for Alex Lopez because increasingly important for him to earn playing time and he continues to not quite live up to everyone's expectations of him. Lopez entered the match in the 53rd minute for the injured Boniek Garcia and he soon disappeared. Lopez played out of position as 3 other central midfielders forced him into the RM/RW role, but he often wandered centrally to where he was more comfortable.
Rob Lovejoy (7.5) - Lovejoy provided a spark for the Dynamo with his tremendous hustle. Lovejoy didn't get a lot of touches on the ball when he went into the game, but he made each one count as he was able to register an assist and goal in the same game which is pretty good for a rookie coming off the bench. About that goal...it's pretty special and is up for Goal of the Week. He collected a poor goal kick and weaved his way to curling a shot from outside the 18 yard box.
Chandler Hoffman (N/A) - Hoffman really didn't see enough time to earn a fair score.
Coach Owen Coyle (7) - This was an important win for the team simply for confidence. The team needed to win and win big in order to restore some faith in its offense. Well, 3-0 is a pretty good confidence builder and the defense probably has a lot more confidence now after withstanding the 14 shot barrage that Montreal delivered. Tactically, Coyle has seemed to have settled on a 4-5-1 and though we all wanted to gun for Montreal and their tired legs after their mid-week game in Costa Rica, patience paid off well as the offense was able to find some rhythm despite the team's inability to possess the ball. Coyle was not afraid to substitute early and Lovejoy's energy off the bench propelled the team clear of any doubt of 3 points.