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Houston Dynamo 0, Portland Timbers 0: Rate the Players and Quick Thoughts

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How did the Dynamo players perform in their 0-0 draw with the Portland Timbers in the playoffs?

MLS: Western Conference Semifinal-Portland Timbers at Houston Dynamo John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the year I introduced a new way for the Dynamo Theory community to be a part of Player Ratings. After matches everyone will get a chance to submit how each player did on a scale of 1 to 10 which will be averaged out in a later article usually on Tuesday mornings depending when the game takes place. These ratings are interesting because we all view how players perform differently. Rating websites like WhoScored.com view things from an analytical perspective, but a statistic, even one as big as a goal, doesn’t quite tell the entire story as some goals are bigger and more important to a game than others. I think seeing how we as a community feel can create fun conversations. Of course, how we feel individually matters as well so please comment about player performances as you wish in the comments.

Quick Thoughts about the Game:

1) Wilmer Cabrera knew he had to get a good result at home against the visiting Portland Timbers so he played a strong Houston Dynamo lineup considering the short rest and injuries to defenders Leonardo and A. J. DeLaGarza. Up top he wasn’t afraid of putting in Romell Quioto, Mauro Manotas, and Alberth Elis and in the midfield he put in Eric Alexander over Ricardo Clark. It was an encouraging “go for it” lineup, but some holes in the back let Portland have their fair chances and as the game wore on fatigue set in.

The game was back-and-forth all night. Diego Valeri did things that have made him a strong contender for MVP, but with Fanendo Adi out, finishing was an issue for the Timbers. On the other side, the Dynamo were able to get some action going – usually via the counter attack. Alberth Elis had a very good 1v1 opportunity with Portland’s keeper, but he should have taken a touch around the GK to draw a foul or find the open net. Instead, the ball was saved. The chances were there for both sides, but finishing was not sharp.

2) This game was not without its controversies and both sides have issues with how some decisions played out. The Dynamo had earned a penalty in the 30th minute after Larrys Mabiala brought down Elis in the penalty box. Center Official Robert Sibiga pointed to the spot, but the Video Assist Referee Chris Penso said there was nothing there and the game continued on. Not long afterwards it appeared Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric may have fouled Darren Mattocks in the box, but Sibiga gave no call. Another controversy that is picking up steam is the condition of the field at BBVA with players on both sides being displeased. The Timbers suffered two first half injuries, but how the ball bounced and rolled is being talked about more in regards to the field condition. My take on it is that the field needs to be in better shape because it is a reflection of our club, but there is a reality of what a field will look like after heavy use and the time of year.

3) As the game went on the use of substitutes became very important for the Dynamo, especially with the Timbers out of their subs by the 59th minute. Vicente Sanchez came on a minute later for Tomas Martinez and the team began to feed the ball to him and our build up play and breakaways looked sharper. A big reason for this is because Sanchez was playing centrally in midfield and was allowed to push into the offense as often as he liked. Players went out of their way to give him the ball, but when Alex came on for Romell Quioto in the 71st minute, Sanchez was forced into a wing role and saw fewer touches. Alex has developed a tendency to hold onto the ball a little too long before releasing his pass and he generally has become more selfish with the ball. That’s not always bad by any means, but Portland was very good at closing down players that were isolated with the ball making shots and passes tougher the longer someone held the ball. Sanchez’s quick passing and moving was more successful than having him on the wing with Alex playmaking centrally. That combined with fatigue from other players and we definitely didn’t do ourselves any favors down the stretch as Portland was able to make us chase the ball before the whistle blew for a 0-0 draw.

4) The result, depending how you viewed the controversies, was probably a fair one. The Dynamo will now have to go to Providence Park, a venue they’ve only won in once during the regular season back in 2011, and try and get a positive result. Portland plays very well there and the Dynamo have not been good on the road – especially at places that have artificial surfaces. However, they do have an advantage and that’s if they’re able to secure an away goal and at least draw, they will be through to the next round. It won’t be easy this Sunday, but they’ll have to make do with how things played out after missing a chance in Houston.

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