1) Neither team really played all that well as each side really looked like they were missing integral players. While RSL was able to out possess the Dynamo, the Dynamo were able to muster their own chances in a late rally following Kofi Sarkodie's red card. Neither team really deserved a win from play overall, but 2 masterful goals were the difference.
2) This game was lost for the Dynamo in the midfield. The team never pushed up to force enough turnovers and the team was undone defensively by the playmaking abilities of Javier Morales. Offense was impossible to create with little support and a few great moments by the RSL defense.
3) As bad as this game seemed on the surface (and it seems pretty bad), RSL is one of the toughest teams to beat at home for a reason. The Dynamo were out several starters and several backups in a difficult environment. Sure, the Dynamo could've or maybe should've won considering how shorthanded RSL was, but I don't believe that this performance was a disaster nor was it indicative of the potential that this squad has.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tyler Deric (6) - Deric could be looking at another Save of the Week nomination following his denial of an own goal [One of our writer's breaks the entire play down very well]. Deric had command of his line for large stretches, but from time to time RSL's playmakers found their way to disrupt and get behind to create chances. Oh, and he can thank that post again.
Kofi Sarkodie (3.5) - The big controversy surrounding Sarkodie is his sending off. The theatrics by Abdoulie Mansally following a wild challenge by Sarkodie earned him a straight red card and while many believe he didn't deserve to see his walking papers, the challenge was without a doubt reckless. Brighter points in Sarkodie's performance include a brilliant save off the line which could also be up for Save of the Week and ball recoveries down the lower right side of the field. However, he struggled to become involved in the offense, to get up the field, and passed well below a decent percentage. The good news: he only played 51 minutes and could be ready for the Open Cup tonight.
Raúl Rodríguez (6) - It was overall a pretty successful night for the Spaniard as he was able to clear dangerous balls, intercept a team high 5 passes, and he nearly scored himself in the 62nd minute for the Dynamo. However, losing his man nearly led to a goal but the attempt hit the post and he came as close as you can get to scoring an own goal without the ball going in.
David Horst (6.5) - Moved the ball well from the back, was strong in the air, and intercepted the ball in several key places. Horst also had two big blocked shots which helped the Dynamo not concede anymore goals. However, at times he was caught too high up the field and struggled with the creative link play between Javier Morales and Joao Plata - which admittedly is pretty difficult to contain.
Taylor Hunter (6.5) - The rookie made his MLS debut and first career start filling in for DaMarcus Beasley after the usual back-up LB Corey Ashe was traded to Orlando City SC. Hunter was targeted early as his side was often the preferred side of attack, but after a few uneasy moments, he toughened up. Hunter would finish with 3 tackles, 4 intercepted passes, and a pair of aerial duels won. He showed his ability to get up the field, and while his passing accuracy isn't the best as it should've been, he was able to get back quickly to help defend.
Nathan Sturgis (5.5) - Sturgis played the first 45 minutes before being subbed off at halftime for Garrido in a "tactical substitution". Sturgis played a bit more withdrawn than Garrido which provided defensive support, but it put a hole in the midfield that was often exploited or made it difficult for the Dynamo to transition the ball.
Ricardo Clark, MotM, (6.5) - Clark gets my man of the match award because of the level of hustle he showed until the end of the game. He wanted to at least get a goal back on RSL and went in hard to try and make it happen. Clark played in a largely CAM position, at least according to his heat map, and he won a lot of balls in the midfield. However, he also turned the ball over more than he should have including in dangerous positions which helped lead to Javier Morales's goal.
Alex Lima (5.5) - Was subbed out in stoppage time of the first half due to a broken nose he suffered from an elbow he took delivered by Mansally. Alex passed and pressed very well, but defensively really didn't look right, especially after the elbow.
Alexander Lopez (6) - Alex Lopez had a tough time on the defensive end, especially early when the left side was targeted, but offensively Lopez passed the ball very well and helped transition the ball to offense when there was support. Lopez would be subbed off to adjust the backline following Sarkodie's red card.
Brad Davis (6) - Against San Jose, Davis helped possess the ball which provided other players time to become involved in the attack, but against RSL that support just wasn't there. Too often it was Davis, Rico, and Bruin with no support and an entire defense to move through. Davis passed the ball well, but many of his passes came from the central midfield when he had to track back.
Will Bruin (6) - Bruin often inserted himself into the midfield to help win the ball back, showcased by his two tackles in very good positions to counter attack, but by dropping back so deep to help out he wasn't able to pull defenders off other players. Bruin passed the ball reasonably well and won 4 aerial duels - a team best, but couldn't manage a shot.
Leonel Miranda (6.5) - Came on for Alex Lima right before halftime at RM and helped push the ball up the field while passing the ball with the highest accuracy of any other Dynamo player. Miranda had one of the closest chances of any Dynamo player to scoring in the 86th minute, but the chance was saved.
Luis Garrido (5.5) - The halftime sub for Nathan Sturgis, Garrido brought much tighter passing and bigger tackles in the midfield to disrupt some play. However, he never ventured too much higher up the field than Sturgis and though he made several crucial tackles, some of which were too ferocious for the rookie MLS referee which saw him cautioned with a yellow card. Due to yellow card accumulation, Garrido will be unable to play against the LA Galaxy.
AJ Cochran (6.5) - Entered the match for Alex Lopez to adjust the back line after Sarkodie's red card, Cochran played quite well from the back. He was strong in the air and intercepted the ball often for someone just with a shorter stint of playing time, but his clearances and poor passing often led to turnovers.
Coach Owen Coyle (4.5) - Coyle entered this game riding the win over San Jose and utilized the same lineup only without Beasley. Although RSL are very good at home, this game should've been easier than the match against San Jose due to the number of key players they were missing. No Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, or the recently traded Alvaro Saborio make for a less threatening team. Granted, our team had our own players away or injured, but circumstances were not that different against San Jose.
The halftime substitution bringing in Garrido over Sturgis made little sense in my mind. Sturgis wasn't poor in the first half, and Garrido wasn't spectacular in the 2nd and they're both defensive midfielders. He couldn't have foreseen Sarkodie's red card, but by eliminating 2 of his subs before the 46th minute began he had little room for late tactical adjustments. Earlier in the season Coyle changed his lineup up depending on his players work in practice and the competition. Coyle appears to have stagnated at a crucial time when experimenting is necessary. I understand it though because it isn't easy with so many starters missing and backups unavailable.