1) Defenders and their ability to support the Dynamo offense was absolutely pivotal to our 3 points in this game. Not only were defenders involved on both goals, but their presence throughout the game helped the Dynamo strike from the wings. Check out Harrison Hamm's take on the value of defense in this game.
2) The team passed well as a whole (85%) with only Joe Willis and Will Bruin falling below the 70% mark. This helped the Dynamo dictate the tempo of the game which worked to great effect late in the game as a shorthanded Chicago side dealing with plenty of lingering heat and humidity looked defeated while the Dynamo seamlessly knocked the ball around them.
3) While the defense and its support of the offense deserves plenty of credit, the offense on its own had trouble unlocking San Jose's back line. Often times the Dynamo could get the ball into dangerous areas of the final 3rd, but struggled to open up space for a good look on goal. Houston outshot San Jose 11 to 6, but barely edged out the Quakes on shots on-target at 3-2.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Joe Willis (5.5) - Joe Willis was the man in goal against the Earthquakes following a knee contusion to the Dynamo's leading man in goal Tyler Deric. Willis has proven to be a more than capable backup in this league, and while Willis made excellent use of his 6 foot 5 inch frame to catch crosses and deny Chris Wondowloski from close range, he looked perhaps a little too casual at times. This was exemplified by the lone Quakes' goal that was scored in which Willis demonstrated some indecisiveness and made a poor play on a cross which he couldn't control and Quincy Amarikwa easily chested the ball into the goal.
DaMarcus Beasley (8) - Beasley demonstrated with ease an ability to get up and down the left side of the field in order to support offensive runs and to get back and defend. Not only did he open the game's scoring, which was also his first goal for the Dynamo, but he continuously created opportunities through his runs and passing including a pass that nearly found Will Bruin in the 31st minute that the defender nearly cleared into his own net. Defensively, Beasley managed 6 intercepted passes and a pair of tackles which helped the Dynamo keep their 3 points at home. Oh, and he made the MLS Team of the Week and you can vote for his goal to be goal of the week!
Raúl Rodríguez (7.5) - Rodríguez did it all defensively for the Dynamo: he came up with 6 intercepted passes, 2 tackles, and several crucial clearances all while maintaining a 94% passing accuracy - the team as a whole passed the ball very well too. Rodríguez won many of his aerial duels to keep things clear in the back, but Rodríguez's yellow card earning foul was fairly reckless given the position on the field which was above the halfway stripe.
David Horst (6.5) - Horst continued his strong run of play with a performance that saw him make 3 tackles and win 3 headers while hardly turning the ball over at all with a 95% passing percentage. At times I believe Horst is in control of the aggressiveness that we've seen from him in the past that has led to dangerous tackles, lots of yelling, and yellow/red cards. This game he was teetering towards his inner hulk as he may have gotten away with 1 or 2 fouls inside the Dynamo penalty box.
Sheanon Williams (7) - Williams has proven to be a huge pickup in a short amount of time for the Houston Dynamo. Since he's arrived in Houston, we've gone 2-0-1 and have only conceded 2 goals. Williams is a very intelligent defender who possesses enough pace and physical prowess to keep up with technical and quick attackers and enough strength to win balls back from defenders in an opponent's half. Williams showcased his passing abilities with a beautiful assist to Alex Lima for the game winning goal which was a low cross across the mouth of goal that was timed right into Alex's run.
Leonel Miranda (6.5) - Watching Miranda, he stays very wide in order to stretch the defense and provide opportunities to switch the field. He's partnered very well with Williams on the right side which showed in the 21st minute when the two linked up and overlapped to create a chance which ultimately led to a corner kick for Houston. He also played a perfect ball to Bruin in the 28th minute which led to a Davis chance, but the shot was off target. Defensively, Miranda provided support coming back and provided 3 tackles.
Luis Garrido (6) - Was tasked with being the only true central defensive midfielder due to Ricardo Clark's injury and Nathan Sturgis's red card suspension in last match and largely performed well. He claimed 2 headers won along with 2 tackles and a few clearances, but he continued to be too aggressive at times as he committed 5 fouls (only 1 was very close to the 18 yard box). Still, Garrido was able to pass the ball very effectively, only giving up the ball twice, but some of that could be due to his short passes to his more creative midfield partners.
Alex Lima (7) - Alex has put in a lot of work since his arrival to the Dynamo earlier this year - we traded Jason Johnson for him - and Alex has proven to be a versatile player that presses, hustles, and can put the ball in positions to score. Alex started this game at LM and was able to win a game-high 4 aerial duels while maintaining 89% passing accuracy. Alex's game winning goal was smashed into the roof of the net with plenty of confidence and his goal scoring celebration was equally amazing (and silly).
Giles Barnes (6.5) - Barnes often played much deeper in the midfield which saw him less involved in the offense, particularly in the 1st half, but Barnes was able to send a perfect ball to DaMarcus Beasley to open up the game's scoring. While Barnes didn't quite have the defensive impact of other central midfielders like Clark or Sturgis, his passing helped jump start counter attacks and maintain possession.
Brad Davis (6.5) - Davis played in a hybrid 2nd forward/attacking midfielder role that gave him plenty of freedom to roam in advanced positions of the field. Throughout the game Davis linked well with Will Bruin including a chance in the 6th minute, but the play was called back for a foul on Bruin despite Davis holding possession and in the 28th minute where Bruin crossed to Davis whose sliding shot was off the mark.
Will Bruin (6) - Despite linking well with Davis for much of the game Bruin struggled to pass with others, especially in the final 3rd of the field, which often stopped attacks. He was able to generate a quality chance for himself and for Davis, his runs continue to impress me, and he's developed a much better hold-up game than he has had in the past. Still, decision making in the final 3rd needs to be a little sharper, but it wasn't a poor night for the Bear.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6.5) - Boniek's last appearance for the Dynamo was June 5th against the New York Red Bulls (which we won 4-2) as an injury suffered while with the Honduran National Team prevented him from making his return until now. While Boniek didn't see a lot of the ball in his return, he was able to make the most out of the chances he had passing the ball with 90% accuracy and even registering a 2nd assist credit for playing the ball to Sheanon Williams on Alex Lima's goal.
Erick Torres (5.5) - Cubo came on for Bruin in the 78th minute and really didn't have the impact that he wanted to have. Part of this was the Dynamo's attempt to possess the ball, having just scored a goal 2 minutes prior, instead of pushing for a goal which hurt his ability to become involved.
Rasheed Olabiyi (6) - It was his birthday on game day, but an equalizing goal by Quincy Amarikwa ensured Cubo would be subbed on ahead of him. Olabiyi came on for Alex Lima in the 85th minute and passed flawlessly while pressing in order to get a goal or assist on his big day.
Coach Owen Coyle (7) - Coyle has utilized 2 or 3 central defending midfielders all year and in this game he didn't have Ricardo Clark or Nathan Sturgis to provide support in the midfield. Coyle improvised a lineup/formation that evolved and changed with the flow of the game. Despite poor marking on a few occasions, including on the play leading up to the Quake's goal, the defense held up well and supported the offense which was key to the Dynamo's success in this game.