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Player Ratings: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United

Strong defensive stands and counter attacks highlighted Houston's style of play, but they were able to create plenty of offensive opportunities often utilizing central midfielder Ricardo Clark, the Dynamo's only goal scorer.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Thoughts:

1) The Dynamo attacked well and found opportunities to score, but finishing remains an issue for the team. DC goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra played well and deserves a lot of credit, but a few shots went right at the keeper. If this team decides to play a mostly counter attacking style, they need to put the chances they have away.

2) This is a top defensive team in the league and they only allowed a goal following an absolutely stunning free kick by Chris Rolfe. This team defended well in both the 4-5-1 and the 4-4-2 which could open the door for Will Bruin, who was praised by Owen Coyle for his 2nd half performance.

3) The early season MVP award goes to...Ricardo Clark...or Tyler Deric. Take your pick because there are strong cases for both players who are both playing at high levels. Deric made 6 saves in this game while Clark provided the Dynamo equalizer and numerous opportunities for himself and others to score.

Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:

Tyler Deric (7.5) - The Dynamo wanted more than a road point from this game, but they likely wouldn't have escaped the nation's capital with that if it hadn't been for Tyler Deric's 6 saves.  There was little Deric could have done about Chris Rolfe's goal (which is not even up for MLS goal of the week), but Deric and the defense endured a lot of chaos in front of the net as DC's fast, counter attacking style often exploited some hole in the back which forced Deric to come up big.

Kofi Sarkodie (6) - Had an improved game over his last performance, the ball generally moved through the left side of the field and Sarkodie didn't have a whole lot going forward. Sarkodie did have a handful of attempts including a brilliant pass in the first half stoppage time which went across the goal and nearly found Ricardo Clark. Sarkodie had a nice attacking sequence in which his first shot was blocked by Bobby Boswell, but he collected the ball and fired immediately afterward only to have it saved by DC goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra.

Jermaine Taylor (6.5) - Taylor is having a pretty good defensive season thus far in the year. In this game he was able to intercept the ball several times and come up with some pretty important clearances (despite the fewest allowed goals in the league - tied with NYRB, the Dynamo still make me nervous by how long they refuse to clear the ball at times). Taylor also played the long ball often and was surprisingly accurate. Taylor is less dominant in the air than his occasional CB partner this year, David Horst, but Taylor showed up pretty well to keep things pretty tidy in the back.

Raúl Rodríguez (6.5) - RR got his start after missing 1 game following his collision with Deric in the game against the Sounders. Rodríguez looked comfortable as he made several crucial clearances, blocked a pair of shots, and made a couple of tackles for the defense.  Rodríguez may be one of the best 1v1 defenders the Dynamo has ever had and the only down side of his game were his headers (his helmet that he wore because of his concussion affected the direction his headers went) and his passing accuracy which was low for a central defender.

DaMarcus Beasley (7.5) - This may have been DMB's best game in orange. Beasley attacked the left side and created offense and was back making big stops on defense. Offensively, his quick touch passing with Brad Davis led to a great chance for Ricardo Clark in the first half, but his shot was right at the keeper. Defensively, he intercepted the ball a game high 5 times (tied with Boswell) and prevented crosses coming in. His combination of speed, intelligence, and attacking savvy make him dangerous and he's firing on all cylinders now which helped land him on the MLS Team of the Week.

Nathan Sturgis (7) - While the 4-5-1 formation that the Dynamo run may not be immensely popular, one thing that is undeniably true is that Nate Sturgis's form has been influential to the Dynamo's defensive composure. Nobody thought that the journeyman coming over from the now defunct club Chivas USA would be a difference maker, and many believed he would be mostly a serviceable player from the bench/injury reserve (I include myself in that bunch). Sturgis in this game helped transition the ball from defense to offense and he did that by getting the ball to Ricardo Clark. Defensively, he had a pair of tackles, and a pair of interceptions, but he also utilized his underrated aerial abilities to help defend. Furthermore, he added a few key passes to keep the Dynamo attack going. The negative part of his game was the number of fouls that he gave up, one of which led to Chris Rofle's wonder goal.

Ricardo Clark, MotM, (8) - I raved about Clark in last week's player ratings and he continued to put on a show for the Dynamo. Clark is a true box-to-box midfielder which means he plays well on both sides of the ball. He acted as the facilitator and creator as he made intelligent passes to push the ball into attacking positions like he did to Sarkodie before halftime - which nearly set him up for a goal. He tracked back and recovered the ball well before pushing the Dynamo offense with his speed. In the Gamethread for this match I compared him to Houston Rockets forward Corey Brewer as he's able to recover the ball and just run through defenses to create for himself or others. He left little doubt in his equalizing shot as he smashed home the Dynamo's only goal following Andrew Dykstra's save on Will Bruin's shot. Ricardo Clark is not a true attacking midfielder, but he's pushing the pace and forcing the Dynamo to keep up which is creating badly needed offensive chances.

Luis Garrido (5) - Garrido only managed to play the first half before Owen Coyle went to his bench for Will Bruin for a more attacking oriented formation and it was an uninspiring half by the Honduran. Garrido made exactly 1 tackle, 1 interception, and 1 clearance and he didn't pass the ball exceptionally well.

Brad Davis (6) - Davis linked well with DaMarcus Beasley and Will Bruin when he entered the game, but his passing was not as sharp as it has been this season. His set piece delivery wasn't quite on par with his typical service, but Davis was still making good crosses from the run of play. Prior to the Dynamo goal, Davis sent in a beautiful cross to Bruin whose close range shot was deflected to Ricardo Clark who finished the effort off.

Alexander Lopez (6) - This was a good game for Alex Lopez, he was able to string together some very dangerous key passes for the Dynamo and he tracked back and helped recover the ball well. Lopez still shows an anxious, nervous side to him which leads to over hit shots or crosses, and sometimes poor giveaways, but when he's on he's a very dangerous attacking minded player.

Giles Barnes (6.5) - Barnes didn't have the performance that he had against the Impact, but he was still a very active part of the attack - notably early in each half of the game. Barnes was unfortunate to hit the post after an expertly delivered pass by Alex Lopez. Barnes had a nasty injury scare after Perry Kitchen attempted a "professional foul", but he was back up after a minute or two.

The Subs:

Will Bruin (6.5) - Is Bruin back? He didn't score, but he was a big part of the play that led to the Dynamo's equalizing goal. Bruin entered the game at halftime for Garrido and he showcased a variety of dangerous runs at goal and some very good passes, but most importantly is that Bruin showed he can be a difference maker.

Rob Lovejoy (5) - Lovejoy came on for Alex Lopez in the 80th minute and looked a bit like a fish out of water playing on the right side of the field. Lovejoy helped win a corner and intercepted a pass, but he really didn't see a lot of the ball in his cameo appearance.

Chandler Hoffman (N/A) - Hoffman came on for Will Bruin in stoppage and really didn't play enough for a fair grade.

Coach Owen Coyle (6.5) - Coyle did well to recognize that his team needed more offense after 1 half and made the appropriate change at halftime to bring on another attacking player in Will Bruin which would pay off, though indirectly through Bruin. Coyle thought that the Dynamo should've walked out of RFK Stadium with more than just a point and I tend to agree with him. Ricardo Clark nearly found goal a few more times and Giles Barnes hit the post. Still, the positives from this game remain that the defense largely held up to a quick DC offense, and the Dynamo offense was able to generate chances and finish one by following up on a play.