1) The Dynamo were incredible at pushing LA back into their half, especially in the 2nd half of the game. They ensured that the easiest pass was backwards and that if they wanted to move forward they had to take a risk due to the pressure they applied. This helped turn the ball over and lead to chances through a high press. This was the overall game tactic, but LA's halftime substitution to bring on Forward Edson Buddle helped the Dynamo win more midfield battles and subdued many chances for LA to generate offense.
2) Nathan Sturgis vs. Steven Gerrard surprisingly disappointed Gerrard fans.
3) This was a big game for the Dynamo. Both sides were missing key players, but the Galaxy were obviously firing on all cylinders without many of their stars while the Dynamo seemed to be shambling. The ability to control their opponent's penetration into their own half was especially key, but they demonstrated plenty of offensive prowess as well. Getting back the likes of DaMarcus Beasley and Giles Barnes should energize a confident squad.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tyler Deric (7.5) - Was fairly untested for much of the match, but the reigning Save of the Week champion may have earned his spot onto this week's Save of the Week nominees with his point blank stop against Robbie Keane or for his tip save from a long range effort by Ariel Lassiter. Deric's heroics helped preserve the shutout for the Dynamo which earned him a spot on the MLS team of the week (along with David Horst).
AJ Cochran (6.5) - Filled in for Taylor Hunter who did not dress for the match, with defensive options limited, Coyle made the tactical decision to play Cochran at LB in order to keep Raúl Rodríguez focused on Robbie Keane centrally. Cochran was able to steal the ball well, and pass better than he has in the past, but he struggled somewhat in the first half against the speed and creativity of Bradford Jamieson in the first half.
Raúl Rodríguez (7.5) - Not everything that Rodríguez did was noticeable, but he kept things tidy in the back. Rodríguez logged 3 tackles, 6 intercepted passes, and managed to block 2 of LA's 7 shots.
David Horst (7) - Horst got inside the head of Robbie Keane through his physical style of play - though he may have deserved a warning following a kick out he made after a shove by Keane that brought the two to the ground. This was one of Horst's best passing games and his aerial presence, which had been hit or miss the last few outings, was in full force.
Sheanon Williams (7) - It's a tall order to ask someone to step in and start a game having been in the city for less than 48 hours, but it's even more difficult to ask that player to play well against a top offense in the league. Williams excelled in Coyle's tactics against LA and his physical defending and ability to get forward helped the Dynamo defeat a top Western Conference opponent. The long throw is now a set piece opportunity that the Dynamo can capitalize on in the future.
Nathan Sturgis (7.5) - How many of you would've picked Steven Gerrard in the duel against Nathan Sturgis before the match began? Sturgis shadowed Gerrard to completely neutralize the Liverpool legend's impact on the game while helping the Dynamo half of the field to largely remain un-breached by the LA offense.
Ricardo Clark (7) - Clark was able to recover the ball in dangerous areas and quickly produce counter attacks. Clark passed the ball extremely accurately (90%) for someone in an advanced position.
Alex Lima (8) - Alex may have usurped Alex Lopez's starting position, even with a broken nose, as the Brazilian was active on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Alex managed a team high 6 tackles and had 5 intercepted passes as his pressure on the left side of the field helped quickly turn defensive stands into attacks. He also played the ball into Davis which led to the first goal of the game. Alex wasn't afraid to take possession and he fired a shot of his own from deep - but unfortunately for him the effort was just wide in the 52nd minute.
Leonel Miranda (7) - Pushed the ball well up the right side of the field and had more individual touches on the ball than any other Dynamo player. Miranda passed the ball reasonably well for an outside mid and pressured well defensively. His goal in the 88th minute was a spectacular chipped effort following a display of control and maneuvering through several Galaxy defenders.
Brad Davis, MotM, (8.5) - Brad Davis is not a forward, and even though at times he played like one behind Bruin, his ability to quickly distribute passes in dangerous areas reminded us of Davis in his prime. His assist to Bruin was a thing of beauty - sure the defense was lacking, but it worked wonderfully. Davis was also given space at the top of the 18 yard box with the ball and was able to score the 2nd goal of the game in a perfectly placed ball in the lower corner. Davis showed us, despite heavy minutes over the week, he's able to help the offense creatively with his key passes and shots on goal. His confidence was the swagger the team carried through much of the game and helped guide us to a win over a top team.
Will Bruin (7.5) - Bruin managed the first goal of the game which turned out to be the confidence builder the team needed in order to control the match. Bruin didn't manage many defensive statistics, but his pressure helped others gain possession by forcing difficult passes.
Erick Torres (6.5) - Cubo made his MLS debut for the Dynamo entering for Will Bruin in the 68th minute. Cubo linked surprisingly well with his teammates but still showed some newcomer signs by passing it off unnecessarily in front of goal rather than taking the effort himself.
Rasheed Olabiyi (7) - Super-sub is now something you could call Olabiyi as his combination of speed and passing helped set up the Dynamo's final goal of the game. Olabiyi only had 4 touches overall, but managed an assist in his brief appearance.
Zach Steinberger (N/A) - Came on in stoppage time and never touched the ball.
Coach Owen Coyle (8) - Owen Coyle took a very tired team and was able to best a very good team in front of the fans in Houston. His strategy to shut down the midfield and prevent the likes of Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane from being a factor worked wonderfully. The pressure that the midfield and attackers put in helped win early balls in attacking areas for the team. This was a marvelous turnaround after 2 disappointing matches on the road and can be used to generate a lot of confidence going forward.