1) The first half was very close to a perfect performance after Andrew Wenger’s goal opened things up. The team exuded confidence on the road and found it easy to break Portland down utilizing a high pressing style of play. Collen Warner helped Alex and Ricardo Clark pressure higher up the field and that took the ball away from Portland’s playmakers halting many problems for our defense before they started.
2) The second half was a different story altogether. The team sat back too often and let Portland find its form. The team only generated chances from counter attacks, but those were rarely supported by other players and weren’t finished. Ultimately, the game was decided by a penalty that likely shouldn’t have been awarded to Portland.
3) The outcome of this game hurts for a few reasons. At first it appeared that the team had gotten itself together and put in a quality performance on the road. Then we lost it badly. The lack of positive results so frequently also hurt. Badly. I don’t think the team is far off from figuring out its best starting XI, but the team cannot sit back and defend for an entire half the way it did. The life that we had following the first half just wasn’t there anymore.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings
Tyler Deric (6.5) – Mysteriously went off at halftime to what we now know to be a hydration issue which is not something to be taken lightly. The good news about it being a hydration concern is that he didn’t injury anything that could keep him sidelined. Deric came up with 3 saves, but was never really tested throughout the match.
DaMarcus Beasley (6) – Beasley managed a team high 4 tackles while recovering the ball well inside our own 18 yard box. He also passed over 80% while connecting well with Boniek above him.
David Horst (3) – Horst had some good moments in this game on both sides of the ball including a strong header back to Joe Willis in the midst of a Portland attack along with a header on the offensive side that nearly went in, but was cleared off the line by a Portland defender. However, the one play that defined this game was Horst’s decision to handle the ball with his arm to bring it down and clear it in the penalty box before the 82nd minute. Portland had momentum following their first goal, but never looked back after this play as they saw 3 points in their sights.
Raul Rodriguez (4) – Recorded a team high 5 intercepted passes and blocked a shot that was on the edge of our own 6 yard box, Rodriguez played generally well with the exception of a play that led to Lucas Melano’s goal for the Portland Timbers. Rodriguez was caught out of position and the vision of Diego Valeri saw Melano’s run which exploited the space Rodriguez had left and this goal turned things around for Portland.
Jalil Anibaba (5) – Anibaba was back to being a poor passer as he completed just over 55% of his passes. Where Anibaba did excel in was his no-nonsense clearances. There was one instance where this helped bail the Dynamo out as Joe Willis made a reaction save but the ball fell to Anibaba who cleared it just before a Portland player could get on the end of it.
Ricardo Clark (6) – Clark passed the ball very well through central midfield, though he got forward a little less than he had in previous games. Clark drew fouls and had one shot nearly go in which almost resembled a cross.
Oscar Boniek Garcia, MotM, (7) – Boniek has played exceptionally well lately and has really blossomed as a creator rather than someone than crosses the ball in over and over again. Boniek notched 2 assists in this game which included switching the field to Andrew Wenger for the Dynamo’s first goal and then feeding Will Bruin a scoop pass over defenders which Bruin finished off. On top of the goals, Boniek had 6 key passes while passing over 80% for a left midfielder/winger.
Collen Warner (6.5) – Warner has been an underrated part of Barrett’s system playing the defensive midfield “1” in the 4-1-4-1 formation. This has allowed players like Ricardo Clark, Oscar Boniek Garcia, and Alex to provide pressure higher up the field and create chances. Warner accumulated 3 tackles and 3 intercepted passes while passing over 90% for a central midfielder.
Alex (5.5) – Alex wasn’t quite the defensive force or tackler he has been all season, but he provide spark offensively in which he fired or curled a few shots at the goal and he drew fouls near the 18 yard box.
Andrew Wenger (7) – Following Wenger’s goal in the first half, the Dynamo turned a game that was even and turned it into one in which they toyed with the Timbers (at least for the first half). Wenger’s goal specifically was something special as he turned former Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor like a top and fired a low shot into the back corner of the net. Later in the match, Wenger made a brilliant counter attacking run, but had no support and his squared pass across the mouth of goal went right to Portland (next time take another shot!).
Will Bruin (7) – Like Wenger, this was a game Bruin needed strictly from a production standpoint. In the first half, Bruin was often given the ball and had support to lay passes off or take pressure off him. His goal was also special as he took a pass from Boniek and outmuscled a defender, who made a misjudged the pass, to beat the keeper at the near post. Bruin linked very well with Boniek and demonstrated his ability to hold up the ball effectively when he has support.
Joe Willis (5.5) – It was a rough night for Joe Willis who came on unexpectedly for Tyler Deric at halftime. Willis made several good reaction saves despite coming into the game without much time to warm up. I can’t blame Willis for either penalty kick that he missed, but he did look a little nervous in the back at times as Portland mounted more pressure.
Cristian Maidana (4.5) – Entered the game for Andrew Wenger in the 76th minute in order to provide a bit more creativity to the Dynamo, Chaco Maidana was a bit of a non-factor. He didn’t cover well defensively and never sparked much on offense even with a decent passing rating.
Mauro Manotas (N/A) – Manotas came on for Will Bruin in the 84th minute and passed the ball flawlessly on the few touches he had. Manotas also helped set up a key pass for Alex which led to a curling effort, but Alex’s shot was just barely off target.
Coach Wade Barrett (5) – It’s really tough to judge Barrett’s performance in this match given how wildly different the two halves of this game were. The first half was dominated by the Dynamo who, after Wenger’s goal, created chance after chance and looked very confident on the road. Barrett didn’t adjust well at halftime and the team appeared to have sat in more and relied heavily on counters rather than on a strategy that had demoralized Portland before the half.