1) Owen Coyle unveiled a new look lineup and formation which featured the return of Deric and Williams and included new faces in Agus and Collen Warner in a 4-1-4-1. However, it's difficult to judge how successful the formation turned out to be as Deric's ejection caused the Dynamo to chase the lead and possession.
2) Speaking of the red card...while the penalty call was likely correct, the color of the card may have been wrong. Warner's deflected pass kept Higuain onside, but Deric's challenge on Higuain had a few problems for it to be a red card. The card was for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but Higuain pushing the ball outside (and away from goal) along with the position of 2 other defenders make the decision for a red card questionable. What do you think?
3) The Dynamo responded to being down a goal and man fairly well, and did about as well as anyone could given the circumstances. The Dynamo sat in and absorbed pressure while attempting to spring quick counter attacks. The counter attacks rarely looked promising, but the defense locked down Columbus from scoring again.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings
Tyler Deric (2.5) - It was a rough outing in Tyler Deric's return to the starting job. Deric didn't have much to do until his penalty conceding foul and sending off. While the color of the call may have been incorrect, the foul wasn't as Deric clearly tries to get some part of Higuain to slow him down.
DaMarcus Beasley (5) - Beasley had a few good recoveries and clearances, but his passing and movement forward was lacking when we needed his runs up the field. Of course, being down a man tends to instill a defense-first mentality to not let a bad situation get worse.
Raul Rodriguez (5.5) - The Rodriguez/Agus partnership that many fans wanted to see was a bit of a trial by fire following Deric's ejection. Rodriguez and Agus both combined well to prevent some chances through the center of the pitch, but Rodriguez wasn't quite as adept in this match as his partner in central defense.
Agus (7) - Earned the starting nod over David Horst, Agus demonstrated a quick adaptation to MLS. Agus intercepted several passes, was well positioned to prevent Columbus attacking through the spine of our defense, and was quick to clear balls inside the 18 yard box. Agus also had a very close attempt on goal, but his headed effort was somehow saved by Steve Clark. The area Agus needs to focus his attention is his passing as many of his long balls to start counter attacks easily found their way to the Crew.
Sheanon Williams (5.5) - Williams also returned to the starting XI taking the place of Jalil Anibaba at right back. Williams demonstrated superior passing accuracy and tackling abilities over Anibaba, but lacked some of the pace which may have come in handy against the crafty Justin Meram who made it through Williams's side often. Williams was able to get forward at times and he nearly found substitute Abdoulie Mansally for a goal.
Ricardo Clark (5.5) - Passed very accurately through central midfield and his shot in the 9th minute struck the crossbar. Clark was active trying to disrupt play, but it's difficult to have a huge impact at controlling tempo on either side of the ball when the team is down a man.
Alex Lima (6) - Was active all over the left side of the field making tackles and plays, however his passing needed a lot of improvement which relied heavily on long balls.
Collen Warner (N/A) - Warner made his Dynamo debut, but was forced to sub off in order to bring Joe Willis onto the field after Tyler Deric's red card. While Warner was well positioned he saw very few touches on the ball, although his biggest offense was accidently deflecting a ball which kept Federico Higuain onside which became the defining moment of this game.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (5) - Boniek saw few touches on the ball and didn't look like the rejuvenated player that we've seen this season. Boniek did have a few key passes in this one, but overall Boniek's presence in this one felt absent.
Andrew Wenger (6) -Wenger had some excellent runs and passes higher up the field and he linked particularly well with Barnes. A miscommunication issue on a fantastic exhibition of dribbling through traffic, which looked to tee up Barnes for a shot, led to the Crew regaining possession. Wenger provided his usual defensive work and blocked a shot at the top of the 18 yard box.
Giles Barnes (5.5) - Tyler Deric's sending off may have impacted Barnes the most as the Dynamo went down a man, Barnes was the lone man up top and was for much of the game stranded.
Joe Willis, MotM, (7.5) - Although Willis missed the penalty kick (it's hard to fault keepers for failing to save PKs) he stepped up and helped the Dynamo remain competitive throughout the match. Willis managed to grab 5 saves in his time on the field and bailed the Dynamo defense out on occasion.
Abdoulie Mansally (5) - Entered the match for Oscar Boniek Garcia in the 61st minute. Mansally added some pace to the left side, but the Dynamo failed to dictate the game as Columbus controlled over 70% of the possession.
David Horst (N/A) - Came on for Sheanon Williams in the 75th minute which shifted Rodriguez to RB. This helped slow Meram down, but Horst really didn't see much of the ball or make many plays on the ball.
Coach Owen Coyle (5.5) - This is a tough one for Coyle to swallow. He had revamped the starting XI, which looked okay on the road before Deric's red card. Red cards change game plans and Coyle did well to instruct his players to sit in and absorb pressure and try to work the counter attacks to their advantage. Unfortunately, the long balls over the top that were sent when the Dynamo did have possession usually found their way to Columbus players which quickly ended any offensive momentum. I understand Coyle's use of substitutes in Mansally and Horst. Mansally's defensive skills along with pace and familiarity in offensive positions made him a safer sub than say Leonel Miranda since Miranda doesn't defend as well. The reasoning was to insert an offensive player that could also prevent Columbus's lead swelling any larger. Horst's substitution provided cover defensively and a target for set pieces. Yes, I would have liked to see Will Bruin or someone come in to show that we're not just giving up on the match, but I do feel these subs were very well thought out and make sense. Ultimately Coyle was successful at preventing Columbus from getting back on the scoreboard, but never built any momentum offensively to steal point(s) on the road.