1) This road performance felt a lot like the LA Galaxy match in that it felt fairly doomed from the start. The Dynamo historically are notoriously poor on the road, but they are especially poor in Toronto, Canada. Furthermore, this was TFC's home opener following recent renovations to BMO field and this Red's team has a lot of attacking talent in Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco, Jackson, and Robbie Findley. Given the Dynamo's less than stellar form lately, many of us expected the team to fail to possess the ball well, seldom attack, and weather a lot of chances by TFC. Owen Coyle surprised us all with his starting lineup and his tactics not only worked, they worked well. The Dynamo controlled a lot of the possession, tempo, and had more quality chances on goal early in the game and really only had to sit back the last 15 minutes of the game.
2) This defensive line without Kofi Sarkodie is a good defensive line, especially against defending aerial threats due to the size in central defense (though it did lapse once this game). Sarkodie has struggled in his 1v1 defending lately and Coyle decided to shake up the lineup. Sarkodie is likely to be the #1 choice at RB, but it's good to have a proven alternative.
3) Barnes and Bruin played exceptionally well together and should have had more goals between the two. Bruin's ability to draw defenders helped create space for Barnes and others to push into the attack. Barnes's position as a withdrawn striker allowed him to sink into the midfield and serve as a central playmaker.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tyler Deric (6) - For much of the game, the Dynamo controlled the possession and didn't allow Toronto to threaten their goal. Deric's biggest save probably came in stoppage time when he was able to grab Chris Konopka's header (the goalkeeper's header!). Deric was close to saving Jozy Altidore's goal and perhaps should've warned Jermaine Taylor to stay with Altidore.
Raúl Rodríguez (7) - RR took Kofi Sarkodie's position at RB and put in a MLS Team of the Week performance (Giles Barnes also made the team). Rodríguez was a huge reason that Toronto had trouble creating offense as his 5 masterful tackles and 2 blocked shots came up big for the Dynamo.
Jermaine Taylor (5.5) - Taylor's poor marking on Altidore for TFC's only goal served as a turning point as TFC finally felt energized with the game within reach. Taylor struggled with Altidore often and when a player frustrates you, you should never let him be more than within arm's reach if you're a defender (especially if the player is Altidore). Taylor didn't have a poor game though, he was able to step into many TFC passes and redistribute them to our players accurately.
David Horst (6.5) - Horst had 13 clearances in this game and no other player was in double digits for that category. His "clear it" first mentality actually helped keep things neat in the back and the Dynamo offense didn't suffer by failing to create a counter attack on the change of possession. Horst had 4 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 blocked shots to round out his impressive start.
DaMarcus Beasley (7) - This is the DMB that we want to see. Beasley is getting up and down the field with ease, his defense hasn't lost a step against some of the best attacking talent in the league, and he's getting up the field and drawing fouls to set up dangerous set piece opportunities - one of which was a penalty kick that he drew on his former USMNT teammate Michael Bradley.
Luis Garrido (7) - Garrido and Clark paired very well in their disruption of Toronto's momentum. Garrido alone had 4 intercepted passes in the around the center of the field which completely takes the steam out of an attack and jump starts another. At times Garrido tackled with too much gusto, but his 3 tackles helped stall TFC's advancement up the field.
Ricardo Clark (6.5) - Disrupted play with Luis Garrido as the two continue to show why they're one of the toughest central midfield duos to beat. Clark was the more willing of the two to advance into positions up the field and he was able to set up several shot attempts for himself.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6.5) - Boniek really didn't bring some of the defensive energy that we've seen from him in the past, but his offensive presence looks to have returned as he and Rodríguez both pushed up the right wing well together. Boniek provided several good passes while showing off some of his signature dribbling skills. While his penalty kick wasn't well taken, he was there to clean up Konopka's save and convert the effort into a goal.
Alexander Lopez (6.5) - Lopez started his 2nd consecutive game at the left midfield position and this time was much more disciplined with his position as he largely stayed out wide to open up the field. He passed extremely accurately, and I even saw him attempt some hold up play, but sometimes he turned down an open shot to make a pass. His defense continues to be hit or miss, but his skillful playmaking and now versatility in playing any attacking midfield position makes him a valuable asset - as a starter or as a substitute.
Giles Barnes, MotM, (8) - There's no doubt about it that Barnes was disappointed about his performance last game against the San Jose Earthquakes. He struggled and he knew it. Barnes rebounded well and did so wearing the Captain's armband as Brad Davis sat out with a hamstring injury. If you haven't seen Barnes's assist to Will Bruin, please do so now. Barnes basically turns on the jets and burns passed Michael Bradley (who had a very rough day) and splits two defenders with a perfectly weighted pass to Will Bruin. Barnes nearly had a pair of goals as well as he wasn't afraid to shoot from distance early in the game, and he hit the post with a shot that he made with the outside of his foot.
Will Bruin (7.5) - Bruin and Barnes are capable of playing so well together. We've seen the two in the past make expert passes to each other with the other burying the effort as if to say "thank you". Bruin HAD to make his shot after Barnes's run from deep inside the Dynamo half to reward the effort which he smashed the shot into the corner netting beautifully. Bruin drew a number of defenders to him which opened up a lot of space for Barnes to create chances for himself. Bruin won more aerial battles in the air than any Dynamo player and passed the ball very well for a center forward.
Rob Lovejoy (6) - Lovejoy came on for Alex Lopez in the 74th minute and wasn't quite the sparkplug that he's been known to be. A lot of that has to do with momentum beginning to favor Toronto following Altidore's 77th minute goal and their press for an equalizer.
Leonel Miranda (N/A) - Entered for Ricardo Clark who was injured on a tackle in the 82nd minute, Miranda had 3 touches on the ball and earned a yellow card for time wasting.
Zach Steinberger (N/A) - Came on for Boniek Garcia in the 83rd minute to give the midfield another central midfielder. Steinberger had 4 total touches on the ball and got yelled at by Deric for poor marking on a free kick opportunity by TFC (and on his birthday too!).
Coach Owen Coyle (7) - This game very easily could have been Toronto's given the quality of talent that the Red's possess. Coyle made some unusual choices with his starting lineup opting for Rodríguez as the starting RB with Horst and Taylor in the center of the defense which paid off well. He re-inserted Bruin back into the starting XI which helped give Giles Barnes room to operate behind. Coyle went into a hostile environment and surprised everyone by not sitting back with his tactics which helped earn the club its first win and 3 points since our April 11th win over the Montreal Impact.