1) The Philly connection is paying off. Wenger and Maidana were among the most dangerous players on the field and our offseason acquisitions both were able to find the score sheet and provide plenty of opportunities.
2) Defense is still suffering from some lingering problems from last year - mainly turning off at key moments. It will be interesting to see how a healthy defensive line and defensive midfield will prevent some of these problems in the future. Here is Harrison Hamm's article about what went wrong on New England Revolution's opening goal in the 3rd minute.
3) The identity of this club is noticeably different from last year's. Coyle has done well to implement an attacking mentality that is sure to deliver on last year's promise of providing exciting (goal scoring) soccer for fans. How will his system play out in the Western Conference? We'll have to see, but a draw against a talented Eastern Conference club is still a decent result.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings:
Joe Willis (6) - Willis took over the starting Goalkeeper responsibilities as Tyler Deric became a late scratch due to an abdominal strain. Willis has very good shot stopping instincts, but was often left with defending a seemingly much larger net due to poorly organized defending in front of him.
DaMarcus Beasley (5.5) - DMB battled it out with the much more physically aggressive and stronger Teal Bunbury, a battle that would eventually see Beasley leave the match due to injury. Beasley made a pair of key tackles and successfully maneuvered the ball out of danger with the highest passing rating of any Dynamo player, but was also responsible for a few crucial mistakes that proved costly.
Raul Rodriguez (7) - With the Dynamo giving up 3 goals in a draw for their season opener, Raul Rodriguez remained the lone bright spot in the back. Rodriguez intercepted a game-high 8 passes, blocked 2 shots, and maintained a high passing accuracy from the back.
David Horst (4.5) - Horst struggled with Charlie Davies's speed and control, but also failed to utilize his aerial strengths defensively. Horst played the ball out relatively well, but often relied on his "clear first" methodology which did not always translate into increased possession for the Dynamo.
Jalil Anibaba (5) - With regular right-back Sheanon Williams out with a hamstring strain, the versatile Anibaba was called into action. While Anibaba's favored position is center-back, he is a serviceable outside back as well, but communication issues were a problem as he likely needs additional time to develop a rapport with the rest of the defensive line and those in front of him. Still, he managed a respectable defensive stat-line earning 3 tackles and 2 intercepted passes, but his 62.5% passing accuracy was the worst among Dynamo defenders.
Ricardo Clark (5.5) - Last season Clark was one of the Dynamo primary goal scorers as a threat crashing the box and now has reverted to his more traditional defensive central midfield role. It is clear that he's still transitioning to the latter as his positioning was a bit too advanced for a defensive midfielder which allowed New England to counter attack effectively.
Alex Lima (6.5) - For most of the game, Alex partnered next to Clark as a holding midfielder to provide defensive cover for our attacking-favored formation, but was moved to left-back when DaMarcus Beasley was subbed off midway through the 2nd half. Alex was more disciplined in his positioning than Clark and contributed 5 huge tackles to the defensive end.
Giles Barnes (7) - Barnes provided the Dynamo with their 3rd and final goal of the game which fueled a lot of hope for Dynamo fans before it was tragically dashed in stoppage time (his goal was also up for Goal of the Week). The entire attacking quartet of Barnes, Bruin, Wenger, and Chaco gave the New England backline fits and Barnes benefited from attention taken off him which differed from how often he was targeted last year.
Cristian Maidana (8) - Chaco pulled the strings of the Dynamo attack and showcased his incredible skill set over the ball. He can deliver a ball with pinpoint accuracy and was responsible for getting the Dynamo's 1st goal of the game. For much of the game it felt like every touch and pass Maidana made set himself or a teammate up for an opportunity on goal. His energy, enthusiasm, and technique are definitely encouraging along with the rest of this rejuvenated Dynamo offense. My only criticism is we played far too many short corners given Maidana's ability over the ball.
Andrew Wenger, MotM, (8.5) - Wenger has a diverse set of skills as a forward which have led to him being utilized in a variety of positions throughout his young career in soccer. He's quick, strong, good with the ball at his feet, gifted in the air, defends well, and is always looking to get in on goal. He demonstrated all of those skills against the Revs and it showed by him being involved in 2 of the Dynamo's 3 goals. First, he helped head the ball towards Maidana which created a communication problem for the Revolution defense and Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth leading to a Dynamo goal. Then in the 2nd half Wenger won a ball near the center circle of the field and scored a goal after a give-and-go with Will Bruin. With a lot of competition at the forward spots for the Dynamo, Wenger did well to position himself as a starter.
Will Bruin (7.5) - While Bruin's touch and dribbling occasionally let him down, his hold-up play, defensive efforts, and distribution provided scoring support and increased possession for the Dynamo. Bruin (along with Wenger) helped win balls in the air and intercept errant passes from opponents. Bruin also played the role of distributor rather than goal scorer as he notched 2 assists.
David Rocha (5) - Despite coming on for Ricardo Clark in the 64th minute, Rocha rarely saw action on the ball only taking 10 total touches. Rocha was disciplined with his positioning as he rarely advanced beyond the halfway mark, but needed to insert himself into the game more given the amount of time on the pitch he had.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6.5) - Coming on for Beasley in the 71st minute, Boniek looked like he was not ready to be banished to the bench as he came out and looked like a bit like his old, dynamic self. Boniek dummied a pass through to Giles Barnes for the Dynamo's 3rd goal and was active on the defensive side making tackles and intercepting passes while passing well from midfield.
Mauro Manotas (6) - The biggest talking point about Manotas coming on in the 74th minute for Maidana was why Erick Torres wasn't entering the match. Manotas by many measures had outperformed Cubo in preseason and Coyle seemed ready to put the younger player into action. Manotas looked dangerous and even had a very well hit shot from a difficult space, but still needs a bit more time to polish his skills.
Coach Owen Coyle (6.5) - This Dynamo team looked very different from last year's team, yet still suffered some of the same problems. Defensively the club looked to be in preseason form while the offense was in playoff push mode. I have little doubt that this team will score and will score often, but I hope the defense will gain familiarity with their increased defensive roles, wingers will support the defense, and the club utilizes its defensive first team to its fullest potential.