1) The difference between the first half and the second half had to represent a shift in tactics. The Dynamo sat back to defend a 1-0 lead the entire second half and a lapse by the defense caused by a mounting Seattle attack led to the team dropping 2 needed points at home.
2) Joe Willis has continued to grow as a keeper and it showed. He looks much more like a leader now than he did when he first started this year and has commanded his defense much better over the last two games.
3) Despite the defensive lapse that led to the goal, the defense largely was up to the task of keeping the Sounders away from goal, but as we sat back more we allowed more opportunities for Seattle.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings
Joe Willis, MotM, (7.5) - Willis, who started his 5th consecutive game filling in for the injured Tyler Deric, put in a MotM performance which included 5 big saves and punches late in the game. It was unfortunate to see the team concede a goal in stoppage time as Willis had played well enough to earn the clean sheet. On the goal, Willis pushed the ball somewhat awkwardly, which led to Raul Rodriguez's error and Chad Marshall's goal.
DaMarcus Beasley (6) - DMB made several crucial defensive plays all over the field and was even able to contribute on the offensive end with a few incredible runs at goal.
Raul Rodriguez (5) - While a lot of the attention on Rodriguez will be for his error leading to Seattle's equalizing goal, Rodriguez did show some of his usual standout traits from central defense such as his penchant for picking out passes and for distributing the ball well. Dynamo Theory writer Harrison Hamm did an excellent job of breaking down Rodriguez's part in Seattle's goal.
David Horst (6) - One thing I've talked about the Dynamo needing at defense is urgency to clear balls away from danger when the ball nears the 6 yard box. Horst in this game demonstrated plenty of urgency by clearing the ball successfully with his feet and in the air. Horst also blocked 2 shots including one shot that was inside the 6 yard box late in the match.
Jalil Anibaba (7) - This was Anibaba's best game as a Dynamo player. Anibaba's passing in previous matches has been lacking, but against the Sounders he found his form and passed with over 80% accuracy. Anibaba provided key defensive stops and was active on offense assisting to Giles Barnes and nearly finding the net himself.
Ricardo Clark (6) - It was exciting to see Clark take on Osvaldo Alonso and Clint Dempsey as Clark's tenacity matched the two's perfectly. Clark made a few poor challenges, but was able to connect very well with Andrew Wenger, Anibaba, and later Leonel Miranda on offense. Clark nearly found the net himself, but was just wide.
Alex Lima (5.5) - Alex, who has partnered in central midfield with Ricardo Clark, had a lackluster performance against the Sounders. He stood out defensively early, but slowly failed to impact the game significantly.
Giles Barnes (7) - Giles Barnes made his return to the starting lineup after missing out against the Red Bulls and the Whitecaps due to an injury picked up in the Dynamo's memorable 5-0 win over FC Dallas. Barnes scored the Dynamo's only goal which saw him take a pass from Anibaba (in which his back was initially to the ball) and place it in the back corner of the net. While Barnes passed the ball and was very active offensively, with many of his shots showed a bit of rust on them. Barnes's goal is up for the MLS Goal of the Week.
Christian Maidana (6) - Chaco had several key passes that led to opportunities for the Dynamo, but all of them came in the first half which was the story in this match. In the 2nd half Maidana sat back and hardly advanced the ball into the final 3rd of the field.
Andrew Wenger (6.5) - Wenger displayed his usual traits as a two-way player through his 5 tackles and his combination play with Maidana and later Oscar Boniek Garcia. Though Wenger failed to get a shot on goal, his work rate on both sides of the ball denied chances for Seattle and created them for Houston.
Will Bruin (5.5) - Despite being active in the first half of the match, Bruin had few touches in the 2nd half. Bruin showed plenty of desire to score, but the ball just wasn't going to him for half of the game. He passed well for a forward and had chances on goal, but never had a chance to find the back of the net simply due to a lack of service. Bruin did have one good chance in the 2nd half following a through ball by Miranda, but was called for offsides.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6) - Boniek returned from his international duty with the Honduran National Team and came on for Cristian Maidana in the 67th minute in order to provide the squad with more life. Boniek immediately got an opportunity on goal, but apart from a few quick runs the team continued to look listless in its attack.
Leonel Miranda (6) - Entered the game for Andrew Wenger in the 75th minute, Miranda did well to advance the ball into the Sounders' territory.
David Rocha (N/A) - Came on for Giles Barnes in the 90th minute and made a decent defensive play to push the ball out of bounds off a Sounder player, but didn't play enough for a fair rating.
Coach Owen Coyle (4.5) - Maybe the conversation surrounding this game would be different had the Dynamo been able to hold on for the 1-0 win. Then again, maybe it wouldn't be too different. The difference between the first half and the second half was night and day as the team we saw in the first half looked determined, energetic, and found chances on goal. The team we saw in the second half were content to make Seattle chase the ball and sat back when the Sounders had possession. Sitting back on a 1-0 lead always begs opponents to step up their chances to secure a point. This team this year has looked transformed on offense, but is still giving up the same kinds of silly goals we saw last year.