1) The return to the 4-4-2 was a smart choice by Wade Barrett. The team pressed higher up the field more often and created better quality chances on goal on counters and through build up play. The move also didn't leave a huge hole on the defensive side which will hopefully motivate Barrett to continue with the formation in some fashion.
2) Center back depth to be tested. With Agus suffering an injury a knee injury on Wednesday against FC Dallas and Raul Rodriguez out with right groin strain, the team will likely have to rely on Jalil Anibaba to partner with David Horst - not quite the ideal pairing, but it looked effective against Vancouver. More effective than I thought it would anyways.
3) The Dynamo have earned 8 points in 8 games under Wade Barrett. Although the club has only lost 2 games in that time, they've only managed a single win. The team has grown a lot on the defensive side and have only allowed 7 goals in that time, but they've only put away 5 of their own. The move to the 4-4-2 was promising, and the team did have a midweek US Open Cup match, but finishing needs to take more of a priority if the club wants to start getting 3 points.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings
Joe Willis (6.5) - Willis once again filled in as the starting goalkeeper for Tyler Deric who is nursing an injury. Willis was able to record 4 saves, but was never under a lot of pressure which is a credit to how Willis kept his line organized after Raul Rodriguez was forced off early in the match due to an injury.
Sheanon Williams (5.5) - In his 2nd straight start at right fullback Williams showcased his ability to get forward up the field as a defender and send in crosses. Although many of his crosses weren't on target, he also became a target following a cross by Will Bruin which forced a difficult save by Vancouver Whitecap goalkeeper David Ousted.
David Horst (5.5) - Passed the ball well out of the back and was able to read many of the passes and crosses by the Whitecaps well. Horst also had a great opportunity for the Dynamo as his headed effort also forced a difficult save by Ousted in stoppage time.
Raul Rodriguez (N/A) - Passed very well out of the back given his few minutes of play and even intercepted a pass, but unfortunately a right abductor injury to Rodriguez meant that Wade Barrett had to go to his bench early in the first half. The injury also tests the depth of our center backs as Agus is also injured and not likely to feature against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Jalil Anibaba (6) - Jalil Anibaba started the game as a left fullback and finished it as a center back meaning he has now played every position in the back, including goalkeeper. Anibaba's problem this year has been consistency, but against the Whitecaps he had one of the best passing games as a Dynamo at 94% and held things down in central defense well, which is only somewhat surprising given it's his preferred defensive position. Anibaba had one hard challenge in the 42nd minute on Nicolas Mezquida that could have earned him a card.
Alex Lima, MotM, (7) - Alex was simply everywhere on the field and reminded me a lot of the things we have seen from Ricardo Clark throughout the years. Alex was aggressive in regaining possession in the midfield and quick to transition those turnovers into offensive opportunities all while passing at 93% for a central midfielder.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (7) - Boniek had the best chance on goal of the night as he struck the woodwork just after the 70th minute. Boniek took a dummy pass from Will Bruin at the top of the 18 yard box and his curled effort was just too far to find the net. Boniek passed very well higher up the field and created a lot of chances along the left side.
Collen Warner (5.5) - Allowed Alex to roam & patrol freely by holding his own runs while distributing to the wings very well. Warner was able to make tackles and pressure Vancouver's midfield into turning the ball over.
Andrew Wenger (4) - It wasn't the greatest night for Wenger against the Whitecaps. Wenger had a great chance on goal following a quick counter attack and beautifully placed through ball by Will Bruin, but his shot was poorly taken and over the top. Wenger may have been tired following his mid-week performance against FC Dallas in the US Open Cup.
Erick Torres (5) - Cubo got his first start May 15th and played the full 90 minutes. Cubo looked more motivated than he had in his few substitute appearances since then, but looked to be more of a playmaker than the scorer that he was during his time at Chivas USA. Torres looked to be a very good passer, but many of his shots were well read and defended against or were simply poorly taken.
Will Bruin (6) - Bruin rejoined the starting XI after a brief benching against the LA Galaxy and did so to some effect. Many of Bruin's shots would have found the back of the net had it not been for the heroics of goalkeeper David Ousted. Bruin also set up several players for opportunities, specifically Wenger and Williams, utilizing improved passing.
Abdoulie Mansally (6.5) - Came on for Raul Rodriguez in the 13th minute and quickly established himself as a defensive matchup against the speedy Christian Bolanos who had given Jalil Anibaba problems on the left side. Mansally also had several big tackles and regained possession near the mid-line often while providing quality runs on the offensive side of the ball.
Cristian Maidana (4.5) - Chaco entered the match for a gassed Andrew Wenger in the 67th minute and he passed the ball well, but rarely were his passes very dangerous.
Giles Barnes (N/A) - Barnes was brought on for Collen Warner in the 80th in order to push for 3 points, but Barnes never saw too much of the ball to make a big impact.
Coach Wade Barrett (5) - Although results may not be going in the Dynamo's favor, the team is slowly (and I mean slowly) developing an identity. Barrett has made defensive assignments a priority, but recognized the need for more offense which resulted in a return to the favorite formation of his former coach as he lined the squad up in the familiar 4-4-2. Many of the choices he made were smart, bringing on Mansally and switching Anibaba to CB proved to be more effective than many thought. Bringing on Barnes for Warner making the formation a 4-3-3 late in the game was also smart, but the team still struggled. This could have gone another way had the Whitecaps had anyone else in goal (Ousted is the league leader in saves). Still, until these results start becoming 1-0 wins instead of 0-0 draws, fans won't look beyond some any improvements he made because they aren't translating to better results.