1) This was the first goal that the Dynamo have scored since their July 2nd meeting with the Philadelphia Union. They went 3 games without scoring, although they only allowed 1 goal in that time.
2) The equalizing goal that the San Jose Earthquakes scored capitalized on a lot of lazy defending. Abdoulie Mansally and Cristian Maidana (who may have been too far away) were slow to pressure Cordell Cato before he sent in a cross to Chris Wondolowski while Sheanon Williams got caught ball watching as his man, Wondo, slipped through the defense and scored unmarked.
3) A return to the 4-4-2 is necessary if we want to create the most goal scoring opportunities. Will Bruin and his substitute Mauro Manotas were not put in positions to succeed with the 4-1-4-1 as neither was very involved in the game. Against the Whitecaps last week the team created 17 shots with 4 on target in a 4-4-2 while not conceding a goal. This week against San Jose they only fired 13 shots with 3 on target and they gave up a goal in a 4-1-4-1. It's time to take some risks and add an additional striker.
Houston Dynamo Player Ratings
Joe Willis (6) - Started once again in place of Tyler Deric as the Dynamo's goalkeeper, Willis controlled his makeshift back line pretty well throughout the match. Willis would see more action than he did against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but he was more than up to the task of preventing the ‘Quakes from threatening the goal. It's hard to fault Willis on the Earthquakes' only goal of the game as his defense had been caught both flat footed and switched off mentally as the Quakes scored a goal the Dynamo really shouldn't have given up.
Sheanon Williams (4.5) - Williams was able to win the ball well throughout our half of the field, and even had a good tackle in our own 18 yard box while being able to get out wide to stretch the field higher up the pitch. However, Williams got caught flat footed and was unable to mark Chris Wondolowski on the San Jose Earthquakes' equalizing goal.
David Horst (5) - Had one of the best passing games I've seen Horst have as he was less reliant on the long pass option which led to him passing with accuracy over 95%. On the offensive side of the ball, Horst had one opportunity that was blocked in the 35th minute that went just over the top of the bar. Defensively, Horst showed less urgency with his clearing than he typically does, but he was still able to make plays inside the Dynamo 18 yard box.
Jalil Anibaba (6) - Anibaba has put in 2 solid shifts in a row at center back. He was by far the most active player on the defensive side of the ball as he collected 6 intercepted passes, 2 blocked shots inside the Dynamo 18 yard box, and a pair of tackles. He passed the ball relatively well for a CB (about 80% is what I expect CBs to pass at) and even contributed a key pass to David Horst in the 35th minute that led to an opportunity on goal.
Abdoulie Mansally (4.5) - Started at LB in place of the injured DaMarcus Beasley, Mansally passed the ball very well while making runs higher up the field utilizing his speed and dribbling abilities. His crossing needs some work and at times his touch was off (and in one case led to a counter attack, but Mansally was quick to catch up to his mistake), but he still showed plenty of quality in his defensive displays as he recorded a pair of tackles and recovered the ball well. On San Jose's equalizer, Mansally (along with Chaco Maidana) were slow to pressure Cordell Cato which allowed him to send in an accurate ball to Wondolowski.
Alex Lima, MotM, (7) - For awhile I was on the fence about my pick for team MVP. Ricardo Clark was my early pick, but I think Alex Lima has taken over by putting in the stronger performances as of late. Alex scored the Dynamo goal by winning a 50/50 ball and dribbling through traffic and placing the ball in the back corner of the net. He won those types of balls all over the field and consistently was a threat on offensive and in the midfield. Unfortunately, he was shown a relatively soft yellow card and will miss the next match due to yellow card accumulation.
Oscar Boniek Garcia (5) - Boniek had a one good attempt on goal late in the game, but his curled effort was just off the mark. His passing was pretty good for a right wing player, but he gave up a bit defensively as he was only able to occasionally recover the ball which put increased pressure on Sheanon Williams.
Collen Warner (4.5) - While in the past I've applauded Warner's tactical challenges, I think in this game he was a tad on the reckless side with some of his fouls and tackles. Still, Warner passed the ball very well for a central mid and was able to support the defense with his tackling.
Ricardo Clark (6) - Clark didn't quite show the defensive tenacity that he has in the past, though his defensive burdens are less with 2 other central mids around him, but he still made some plays notably an intercepted pass that led to a great opportunity by Clark and a blocked shot inside the Dynamo 6 yard box.
Cristian Maidana (6.5) - Chaco Maidana looked like he played both sides of the ball quite well. Defensively he made 3 tackles in our defensive 3rd and he recovered the ball across the field. On offense he passed the ball with nearly 90% accuracy while contributing key passes that led to opportunities for the Dynamo to score.
Will Bruin (3.5) - The return to the 4-1-4-1 did not complement Bruin's skill set as he looked stranded for most of the game. Against the Whitecaps in the 4-4-2 Bruin was actively finding chances for himself and others, but in this game his touches were limited as the squad sat too deep and relied primarily on counter attacks to generate opportunities. Bruin had 1 chance on goal that was incorrectly ruled offside in the first half. Although Bruin missed the chance that wouldn't have counted anyways, he was brought down by goalkeeper David Bingham which could have been a penalty had the play not been called back.
Eric Alexander (4.5) - Alexander made his Dynamo debut when he entered the match for Collen Warner in the 61st minute. Warner had a few too many hard challenges so Barrett decided to shake things up by putting on Alexander, a CM for Warner which shifted Alex Lima to the defensive holding midfield position. Alexander didn't see a lot of touches, 16 total in his 30+ minutes of play, but he passed flawlessly as he never turned the ball over.
Mauro Manotas (4) - Came on for Bruin in the 72nd minute and like Bruin Manotas struggled to be involved in the game as the team couldn't get the ball up the field. Manotas only had 12 touches in his 20+ minutes of play, but he was able to get a shot off though it was off the mark.
Andrew Wenger (5.5) - Although only getting a few minutes of play and touches when he came on for Ricardo Clark, Wenger quickly inserted himself into the game as he was able to flick on a set piece with his head that forced a save and he had a key pass that led to a chance on goal for the Dynamo.
Coach Wade Barrett (3.5) - I'm not certain why Barrett decided to abandon the 4-4-2 to return to the 4-1-4-1. Perhaps it was to provide defensive cover because he was concerned with the makeshift defense that was missing several players. Still, the offense in this game was not as good as the one against the Vancouver Whitecaps even though the team scored a goal in this game and didn't in that one (you could also argue the defense was better in the Whitecaps game in a 4-4-2 as well). His personnel choices were fine for the formation, but I think most fans wanted to see Bruin partnered with Mauro Manotas or Andrew Wenger up top. The team played well through the first half, but came out flat after halftime which allowed San Jose to get back in the game.