1) Having Ricardo Clark back in the fold will help give the Dynamo scrappiness, savvy, and speed in the middle of the field which was sorely missed while he was injured for 4 games.
2) David Ousted was the Man of the Match for Vancouver as he was the only Whitecap interested in the game by the end of the match. His huge saves kept his side from being down 4 or 5.
3) I have not been won over by Cubo's performances, but as he slowly builds up fitness and plays more minutes that can change. There have been moments of brilliance by the young striker, but I think it's fair that he hasn't quite lived up to the hype yet. With his call-up to the Mexican National Team, Cubo should be able to get a few more games to help improve his fitness and decision making in game situations while not missing any games for the Dynamo.
4) One of our new writers, Harrison Hamm, broke down the Dynamo's 2nd goal of the game very well. Here's a link to his latest "Film Session" in which he goes through the goal frame by frame.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Tyler Deric (7) - Deric and the defense was tormented in the first half by the speed of Darren Mattocks, but Deric came up with a pair of big saves against the Jamaican and helped the team keep the Whitecaps off the score sheet.
DaMarcus Beasley (5.5) - In Beasley's first game back following an injury that he suffered against the New England Revolution Beasley looked relatively sharp moving up the field, though an injury setback limited his defensive effectiveness and he was only able to play for the first 23 minutes of the match before being subbed off.
Raúl Rodríguez, MotM, (8) - Raúl Rodríguez returned to the starting lineup after missing Houston's midweek matchup against the Colorado Rapids. Rodríguez was tasked with marking Mattocks early, a role in which he struggled, but as the Dynamo offense gained momentum so did he. In addition to scoring the Dynamo's insurance goal late in the match, Rodríguez nearly found the net in the 70th minute and was the only Dynamo player to have 2 shots on target. Apart from his early struggles against Mattocks on the defensive end, Rodríguez was able to intercept the ball well, win duels in the air, and block 2 shots (including 1 on Mattocks). All of this helped earn Rodríguez a spot on the MLS Team of the Week (which also featured Ricardo Clark on the bench).
David Horst (7) - Came up with more intercepted passes than any other player on the field, was a very accurate passer out of the back, and had a header that bounced off the crossbar (though the play would be called back for a foul). Horst has looked more composed lately and has played much smarter soccer overall, though he's still getting away with a bit of tugging/pulling inside the box at times.
Sheanon Williams (6.5) - Williams didn't push into the offense too often so that he could defend against the attacking threats of Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh, but when he did make it into our opponent's half he made an impact as his low cross into the box set up the game's opening goal.
Alex Lima (6.5) - Started the game in central midfield alongside Ricardo Clark and then finished out the game at left back when DaMarcus Beasley was subbed off midway through the first half. The versatile Brazilian played very well alongside Clark and helped win and recovery possession in the midfield and transition that into offense. At left back, Alex had an improved performance following his struggles at the position against Colorado - though early he was often targeted by the creative play of Mauro Rosales. Still, he was dependable for much of the game and helped preserve the clean sheet against 9-man Vancouver.
Ricardo Clark (7.5) - One thing that Ricardo Clark does extremely well is pressure the ball - from anywhere. He doesn't always end up with the greatest defensive stats, but his understanding of how to make opponents make mistakes through intelligent pressure allows his teammates (or himself) to win possession. Clark largely sat back in this game as a holding midfielder, but advanced higher up when Garrido was brought in and he soon found himself in attacking areas which helped him score the game's opening goal.
Brad Davis (7) - Davis's service was on point in this match as he delivered 1 assist from a corner kick and he nearly had a few others on top of that one. His quick work with Boniek Garcia on short corners almost made me like short corners (almost). Davis switched sides of the field with Giles Barnes regularly and was effective on both the left side of the field and the right. Davis also had a beautiful goal line save against Kendall Watson a few minutes after Clark's opening goal to keep the Dynamo up going into halftime.
Giles Barnes (6) - Barnes hasn't looked quite as sharp as Owen Coyle would like, but his deceptive quickness and dribbling helped the Dynamo by drawing a foul leading to Matias Laba receiving a yellow card (who would later see a 2nd yellow) and by drawing a foul on Kendall Watson which earned Watson his 2nd yellow. Offensively, Barnes had a few quality chances, but was able to only keep 1 shot on frame. Hopefully, with a bit of rest, we will have Barnes back at the level of sharpness and fitness he was pre-Gold Cup.
Erick Torres (6) - Cubo earned his first start as a member of the Dynamo and though it wasn't a perfect outing, who partnered up top with Will Bruin, he was able to influence the offense by assisting on Clark's goal. The effort began with a ball by Sheanon Williams which Cubo cleverly (and perhaps with a bit of luck) flicked back to the streaking Ricardo Clark who slid the effort past David Ousted.
Will Bruin (6) - While the offense didn't find Bruin too often, Bruin often found it by putting himself into areas for him to hold the ball up and make passes to players making runs. He wasn't effective finding the goal and was limited in his shot attempts, but his ability to pick out teammates helped the Dynamo create chances.
Luis Garrido (6) - Came on for DaMarcus Beasley in the 23rd minute which sent Alex Lima to LB, Garrido helped Clark limit Vancouver's advances and pushed the ball into the offense in an almost "box-to-box" role, afforded to him late by Vancouver going down to 9 men.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6.5) - Entered the match for Cubo in the 66th minute, Boniek provided a lot of the dribbling flair and quality link up play in the final 3rd of the field that we had seen from him in the past.
Nathan Sturgis (6.5) - Came on for Ricardo Clark in the 72nd minute and Sturgis helped close the game out with accurate passing around a shorthanded team and by nearly netting a goal himself in the 85th minute.
Coach Owen Coyle (6.5) - This was clearly the game that Coyle had an eye on this week rather than the game against Colorado which had a few missteps in his game plan. The return of Ricardo Clark and Raúl Rodríguez both helped immensely, as they both scored goals, but he also mixed up his lineup by inserting Cubo into the lineup which saw some positive effects. This game didn't quite have the attacking "attitude" that the starting lineup suggested, but it's hard to argue with the final result.