1) This was one of the best 2nd halves I've seen the Dynamo play in a long time. While the 1st half was okay, it lacked some of the quality possession and chances that the Dynamo gained in the 2nd. The team hacked and hacked away until they finally got their goal.
2) Defense stepped up big time. Real Salt Lake had ZERO shots on goal due to perfect positioning by the defense, plenty of urgency in the box, and the midfield and forwards maintaining possession away from their own net.
3) This team is at its best when it applies the high press against opponents. It seems like after the Vancouver game we abandoned the tactic and fell into a hole just because they were effective with their long passes. But this game showed our ability to win the midfield and keep RSL penned in their own half for much of the game.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings
Joe Willis (7.5) - Willis was the man in goal for the Dynamo again as Tyler Deric was serving his suspension for his challenge in the San Jose Earthquake match earlier in the week. Willis really didn't have much to do evidenced by his 0 saves, but he did have one nervous moment that came from a cross early. He caught the ball near the line and RSL players cried that it had gone over the line, but neither the center official nor AR saw it go all the way over. Willis's pressure on Yura Movsisyan forced a chipped shot which went over the top AND Willis was able to assist Giles Barnes.
DaMarcus Beasley, MotM, (8) - It was a fairly complete game for the four-time World Cup veteran as Beasley put in tremendous effort on both sides of the ball. Beasley had 3 tackles, a blocked shot, and 8 intercepted passes while passing with a very high accuracy himself. Beasley nearly had an assist himself following a perfectly placed cross to Cubo Torres, but Cubo's header would bounce over the top of the net.
David Horst (6.5) - What is it going to take for Horst to get another goal? Horst had 2 very close headers on goal, one of which hit the top of the crossbar. Defensively, Horst had a beautiful slide challenge and partnered well with Agus to force RSL attackers to move to the wings. However, his passing as a center back really needs to improve as only 50% of his passes went to Dynamo players.
Agus (6) - Did well to force opponents into taking poor shots and blocked one himself. Agus passed just over 30% with only 5 passes making it to Dynamo players. That must improve as his partner Horst isn't the best passer either. But, the two have shown that their tough nature can force both big center forwards like Movsysan off the ball and technically gifted players outside like Joao Plata.
Sheanon Williams (6.5) - Williams made his way back into the starting XI to great effect. He was a big reason Plata's skills weren't on display at BBVA by stepping into his runs and clearing the ball effectively. Williams also pushed up the field well and combined with Andrew Wenger on a play that nearly saw Wenger score.
Ricardo Clark (7) - Passed the ball extremely well for a CM at 87.9% and was active all over the field. Clark managed 3 big tackles and 5 intercepted passes to go along with his 3 shots (2 of which were blocked including 1 that was blocked by Horst by accident). Clark has played all 90 minutes in the hectic 3 games in 7 days*, but has been one of the most consistent performers for the Dynamo in that time.
*technically 8 since the game was postponed
Alex Lima (7) - Alex came to play today as he nudged players off the ball, got in their way, and was just a pest to RSL forwards and midfielders which helped him recover the ball all over the place. Alex, most importantly, distributed the ball much better than he has in the past which eliminated a large amount of turnovers and counter attacks.
Cristian Maidana (7) - Really didn't contribute on the defensive end and essentially played as a withdrawn striker, but Chaco was finally playing in a #10 role where he can distribute key passes to players to set up opportunities on goal. Maidana had a game-high 73 touches while completing over 80% of his passes. This is the Maidana we want to see moving forward.
Giles Barnes (7.5) - Barnes just plays better in front of the home crowd. Barnes scored the game's only goal by making an opportunistic run behind the RSL backline following a kick by Joe Willis. Barnes anticipated the ball would be headed back by judging how Jamison Olave was facing and he finished with a perfect shot around the keeper. Barnes nearly had a goal earlier in the match that had him 1v1 with RSL keeper Jeff Attinella, but his effort was saved.
Andrew Wenger (6) - Had 2 tackles, 1 in each half of the field which highlights his pressure up the field and his ability to get back on the other end. Wenger moved the ball well and had a pair of quality opportunities on goal himself.
Erick Torres (6.5) - Cubo's first goal in Orange is coming as the Mexican striker managed 4 shots including a header that he nodded down into the ground which bounced over the top of the goal.
Leonel Miranda (6.5) - Came on for Wenger in the 67th minute, just after Barnes scored his goal, and quickly showed the benefit of fresh legs by running at the RSL defense. Miranda used his speed and creativity to pass well, intercept balls, and he set up himself for a very close chance on goal.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6.5) - Boniek entered the match for Cubo in the 77th minute and looked a lot like his old self again. Boniek used speed, finesse, and quality turns to maneuver through traffic and link with Barnes, who moved to the center forward role.
Will Bruin (N/A) - It was a cameo role for Will Bruin who entered the match for Giles Barnes in stoppage time.
Coach Owen Coyle (6.5) - Coyle may have found a combination of players that work well. While Coyle alluded to "big changes" in the lineup in the wake of the disaster that was the match against San Jose, the only changes were putting DaMarcus Beasley back in (now that he was healthy), Sheanon Williams in over Jalil Anibaba, and giving Cubo the start over Will Bruin. The changes in the back showed immediate results as the club earned the shutout over RSL while Beasley and Williams both pinched in perfectly to slow down one of the league's best in Joao Plata. But the midfield tactics really stood out as they utilized a high press to pen RSL back in their own half which created chance after chance for the Dynamo.