1) This formation and Barrett's tactics are taking shape. As Dynamo Theory writer Harrison Hamm wrote an article yesterday highlighting the strengths of the formation which is largely tied to how well it pressures in the midfield. The personnel choices by Barrett and the chemistry developing amongst those players is also beginning to look like the genuine article. In this game, against a top opponent in the Philadelphia Union, the Dynamo rarely switched off, like they had against the Portland Timbers which showed increased alertness and concentration.
2)The offense is still a bit of a work in progress. The Dynamo outshot 18 to 8 (or 8 to 2 on target chances), but many of those efforts were very poor, including the on target shots. Finishing will come with increased time of possession in opponents halves, but there needs to be a bit more sharpness there at the moment.
3)This was a big game that the Dynamo largely played well in, but let's keep things in perspective. The team is still in last place in the West and still needs to grind results while continuing to develop the identity that Barrett wants to instill. This game should serve as a confidence boost, but a look at the standings should make one cringe. It is one game at a time for the Orange, and this one was a very good one.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings
Tyler Deric (6) - Sometimes it's pretty nice to have the majority of the action played away from you, and that's what Deric alluded to after the game. The defense was well organized and the most dangerous play of the night for the Union was stopped by a Raul Rodriguez rather than Deric. Our goalkeeper managed a comfortable 2 saves.
DaMarcus Beasley (7) - Pressed higher up the field while maintaining a very high passing accuracy, Beasley was a big part of the offense that flowed through the left side which led to excellent link up play and a key pass inside the box. Beasley also had a game high 6 intercepted passes. The effort even earned Beasley a spot on the MLS Team of the Week.
David Horst (6) - Had a pair of headers on goal in the first half, but they were easily saved by Andre Blake. Defensively, Horst was able to block two shots, including one inside the 18 yard box, and intercept a pair of passes.
Raul Rodriguez (6.5) - Passed over 80% which is about where center backs should be in my opinion, but came up big when it counted including denying CJ Sapong in the 62nd minute by poking the ball away from danger in front of goal following a pass by Chris Pontius. Rodriguez intercepted the ball well throughout the field and had a tackle higher up as the team pressed.
Jalil Anibaba (6.5) - Anibaba had one of his best passing games and he did a lot of it inside Philadelphia territory. Anibaba was very active positioning himself to send in crosses. Although many of the crosses were errant, a few did switch the field to set up other opportunities. Defensively, the Union didn't attack Anibaba's side as often as Beasley's, but he held up pretty well.
Ricardo Clark (6) - Clark quietly had a good game as he passed over 85% as a central midfielder and played a bit more reserved in how high he pressed which allowed him to absorb more pressure from the Union offense.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (6) - Boniek has been playing about at the level when the Dynamo first acquired him (consider when preseason began and we re-signed him he was largely considered depth at RB). Boniek ripped one shot in the 81st minute that forced a finger tip save by the Union Keeper. Boniek has become a focal point on the left side of the field and he managed to pass well and link with those around him against Philadelphia.
Collen Warner (6.5) - A true box-to-box defensive midfield, if this team were to turn things around, Warner would be a big reason why. He affords Clark and Alex, along with our outside defenders, to get forward more regularly and he provides ample cover if those players are caught out of position or turn the ball over. He does that by making tactical fouls, tackling, or intercepting passes, which he reads very well.
Alex (6.5) - Alex drew a foul on Joshua Yaro early in the game and the challenge easily could have been red. Of the central midfielders, Alex was the one most involved in the attack as he sent in several accurate crosses that nearly put the Dynamo up.
Giles Barnes (6) - Barnes rejoined the starting XI following his stint with the Jamaican National Team and a brief injury spell, but instead of finding himself in the left winger position, as he had played under Owen Coyle, he took Andrew Wenger's position at RM/RW. Barnes had a few opportunities including a good headed effort and he sent in some quality passes in the Union half of the field, but many of his other passes were lacking.
Will Bruin (5) - Will Bruin will want some of his headed chances on goal back as they didn't challenge the Union keeper (most headers against Andre Blake didn't in fact), but he was able to get efforts on frame while passing the ball very accurately for a central forward.
Mauro Manotas (5) - Manotas entered the match in the 60th minute for Will Bruin and he had a bit of a rough outing. While sending in some great passes, Manotas's own efforts were far from perfect, including one shot he took from outside the 6 yard box which soared awkwardly over everything. Manotas did get Yaro ejected of the game for drawing a 2nd yellow, but on closer inspection it was a clear dive.
Cristian Maidana, MotM, (7.5) - Could the Man of the Match award go to anyone but the person that scored the goal to end our winless drought? Chaco Maidana came on for Alex Lima in the 69th minute and went to work accumulating 40 touches and only misplacing a single pass (crosses not included) in that time. His set piece goal that glanced off the roof of the goal reminded fans why he came to Houston in the first place.
Andrew Wenger (N/A) - Wenger took the field coming on for Giles Barnes in the 84th minute and Wenger passed the ball with 100% accuracy, but he didn't see a lot of touches overall.
Coach Wade Barrett (7) - Wade Barrett managed the game very well in his first MLS win as his formation and tactics seem to be taking root and his use of substitutions worked very well. Manotas coming on made sense for the striker to run at tired legs, Chaco came on to provide more creativity (and a goal), and Wenger provided more defensive cover from the wing. The team out shot, out possessed, and out passed one of the best teams in MLS and shut them out. This wasn't a blowout or anything, but had the players put their shots on target a bit more (and had Andre Blake not played an outstanding game) it easily could have.