1) Officiating 101: There are 4 factors that go into deciding whether or not a challenge on an attacker is a denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity which would result in a red card for the tackler: (1) Distance to goal is considered - closer to goal, closer to being an opportunity to score, (2) distance to ball - does the attacker have possession/an ability to make a play with the ball, (3) direction of play - is the player moving towards the goal, and (4) number of defenders between the foul and the goal.
Boniek's penalty draw definitely hits 3 of those categories and he tests the law of the game on the 4th. Marvell Wynne appears to be even with Boniek and the ball at the time of the foul (though it's close) which could mean Wynne could defend the play. The problem is, the play happened nearly on the goal line so is it a denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity? I say it is, but center official Ricardo Salazar said it wasn't even though he called for a penalty.
2) Was the San Jose goal offside? It was awfully close and even going frame by frame it's difficult to judge. The one thing that is certain is Taylor's movement and following the ball allowed goal scorer Adam Jahn to at least look convincingly onside.
3) The tradeoffs in the 4-5-1 are stronger defensive stands, which we saw, and less offense. It may seem like the possession oriented formation should favor offense as well, but that's really only true when there's a hold-up type player in the lone forward role and the midfield has very creative playmakers to support the striker and others making supporting runs. This team looked most dangerous on the counter attack and on set pieces because players were either already in position or space/positioning was exploited on the counter.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tyler Deric (5) - It's hard to fault Deric for the lone goal scored on him, and he really didn't have to be spectacular in this game as most of San Jose's shots were well off target. I will be critical of his care of the defensive line on the set piece that led to the game's only goal. Goalkeepers must make sure everyone knows what they're doing to defend them and Jermaine Taylor wasn't on the same page. Deric did make a great save on a free kick, but he failed to handle it cleanly afterwards, but luckily for him, he ended up with the ball after a nervous moment.
Kofi Sarkodie (6) - After coming off of one of the more lacking performances of Sarkodie's career, Kofi rebounded well. Sarkodie sent in some dangerous crosses that even when they didn't find a target, the ball was kept in a dangerous area which led to an opportunity such as when Boniek drew the penalty. Defensively, Sarkodie won a few challenges in the air and made a pair of tackles, but he made a few careless fouls including one that forced a difficult save by Deric.
Jermaine Taylor (5.5) - Fans are mostly in the "Taylor is not a quality CB" camp and I tend to see him as serviceable rather than a starter caliber. On one hand I saw Taylor mark two players (one was behind him) and then he correctly switched to the player on the ball that was behind him after the pass was made and he made a great tackle to stop the play. On the other hand, Taylor's movement "appeared" to have kept Adam Jahn onside for the game's only goal.
Raúl Rodríguez (5) - RR has looked a little tentative at times in his defending which provides opposing offenses time to pick out passes or shots. The good thing is he's become a target for set pieces and has tried to assert himself more and more on those opportunities since he grabbed his first goal for the Dynamo against Kansas City.
DaMarcus Beasley (5.5) - Beas had a few quality defensive stands notably an athletically blocked shot in the first half. Beasley found space to operate moving up the field, but many of his runs didn't see anything come of them.
Luis Garrido, MotM, (7) - Garrido was a bit of an offensive liability as some of his passes were careless and not well thought out, but defensively Garrido was as much the "beast" that he was last season. Garrido came up big with 7 tackles, 4 intercepted passes, and a blocked shot. His defense afforded Clark the ability to become more involved in the offense.
Ricardo Clark (6.5) - Nearly started the 2nd half with a goal as his effort was very close from a difficult angle, but it was pushed wide by goalkeeper David Bingham. Clark provided a lot of pace from the center of the field and defensively made a couple of tackles and intercepted passes. His work rate and ability to recover the ball and immediately translate that effort into offense is what makes Clark a great 2-way player.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6) - Boniek rejoined the starting lineup after seeing time as a substitute against FC Dallas. Boniek looked completely out of sorts the first half as he looked invisible, but in the 2nd half he began to get more touches on the ball and assert himself into the game which he did when he drew a penalty kick.
Alexander Lopez (6) - Apparently Alex Lopez can play LM now too. The experimenting with Lopez's position has been met with mixed results, but we're beginning to see what Lopez is capable of: passing the ball well, even under pressure, and average defending.
Brad Davis (6.5) - Davis played this game as a CAM or as a 2nd striker, and he mostly played well. He generated plenty of opportunities on both live and dead balls, and he had one of the closest chances of the game when he collected a ball that wasn't cleared by San Jose and had a go with it, but his shot was wide. Davis passed the ball well for a player in an advanced position, and tracked back to help defend well. However, Davis needs to be a little quicker with the ball and defend himself when he has possession because he's getting knocked off the ball way too easily.
Giles Barnes (5.5) - The player most Dynamo fans have decided to pick on is Giles Barnes for his missed penalty. His penalty strike wasn't the greatest, but it certainly wasn't poorly taken either. Take a deep breath Dynamo fans before you vent your frustration over a missed PK. It happens. Where Barnes did struggle was trapping long balls sent to him and at times Barnes looked to be on an island unless he dropped deeper into the midfield.
Will Bruin (5.5) - Bruin never fully integrated into the team when he was brought on for Alex Lopez in the 65th minute. Bruin only had 9 touches on the ball, but he was able to make those touches count which included one close shot from a very difficult angle.
Rob Lovejoy (6) - In a short amount of time, Lovejoy quickly helped push the Dynamo tempo into urgent mode as he was able to fire a shot off in the minute he was brought into the game.
David Horst (N/A) - Horst was brought into the game to push DMB higher up the field, but despite a perfect passing accuracy, he really didn't have a lot to do as San Jose was content to sit back and hold onto their lead.
Coach Owen Coyle (6) - Coyle has struggled to find consistent quality performances from his team and his jump back to the 4-5-1 was a reaction to the onslaught that FC Dallas brought to us. We saw that the formation struggled to produce offense and Giles Barnes struggled in a CF role despite better possession and very good passing rates. Most fans are frustrated for one reason or another, but I think it's largely because we all know this team is capable of achieving better results and no one knows that more than Owen Coyle.