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Player Ratings Houston Dynamo vs. the San Jose Earthquakes

These ratings were much better than last week’s

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fair to say that Dynamo fans preferred the way their team played against San Jose over Minnesota United FC. The numbers speak for themselves as last week had the highest rated player at 5.5 and this week only one player dipped into the 5 range and was still higher with a 5.6. In the seventh week of Rate the Players we saw a huge jump, especially for Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera who opted to forgo his usual 4-3-3 in favor of a diamond 4-4-2/4-3-1-2 which proved to be very successful. While I don’t quite agree with all of the ratings – in my view Juan David Cabezas deserves to be in the top 3, all players are generally pretty close to each other which represents the team performance that we saw against the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Top Performers:

Alex Lima, Man of the Match, (7.2) – Alex Lima is not my personal man of the match, and if I’m being honest, there are probably at least 4 players ahead of him if these were my own ratings. I felt he didn’t contribute much on the defensive end, he didn’t take any shots, and he rarely got back to support the defense. That being said the beauty of the diamond 4-4-2 is it allows for the central attacking midfielder to take less of a role in the defensive workload. I’m not saying he didn’t do anything, and in fact his presence and pressure helped other players intercept passes and make defensive plays. On the offense, he was much more active as the formation allowed Alex to essentially convert the formation to a 4-3-3 whenever he pushed up alongside the forwards. That kept the level of intensity Cabrera wants on that side of the ball while providing flexibility to support the defense. Alex had a few excellent passes and his overall passing for a CAM was very good. Man of the Match good? Not in my opinion, but Alex was absolutely crucial to Cabrera’s formation experiment and the win as well. But there is one question I keep thinking of in regards to the long term feasibility of this system and what it could mean for a player like Alex and that’s what happens when Romell Quioto gets back into the starting XI?

Alberth Elis (7.1) – Elis scored a pretty easy goal after capitalizing on an error in reading a corner kick by Quakes’ keeper David Bingham, but Elis was our most active attacking player of the game. He made several speedy runs down the sideline daring opponents to take the ball. Sometimes he was overly ambitious with his dribbling after taking on too many players, but I admire the confidence he has going at players and wish other players that are gifted at taking players on (Andrew Wenger) would do so more often. Elis didn’t contribute much of anything on the defensive side of the ball, and that’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect from his game. In the new formation he has some cover, but I think it is a wise move to sub him early if we have a lead. Funny enough, Elis was nearly subbed off before his goal, but Cabrera decided to wait until after Eric Alexander’s corner kick and it paid off.

Leonardo (6.9) – In his return from injury, Leonardo proved to be essential to the Dynamo’s defensive success. The back four looked more organized than they had in the past and San Jose was limited to just 2 shots on target. Leonardo’s 6 intercepted passes and 3 tackles helped the Dynamo escape some nervous moments. Welcome back Leonardo. Now we just need A. J. DeLaGarza to return next week.

Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera (7.1) – Cabrera showed growth from the previous two games as well as the game in Portland. His new formation is flexible to support the defense when they need it which is important for protecting leads while also allowing for players to get forward when there are opportunities to get numbers up the field. The Dynamo still need to work on their ability to possess the ball for extended periods, but this formation at least provides some help to the defense without sacrificing much on offense.

His lineup choices also paid off well in this formation. Getting back the enforcer type player that is Juan David Cabezas helped stop numerous attacks and having Eric Alexander out in left midfield gave help to the defense along with some playmaking on that side of the field. As mentioned above, how extensive we utilize this system is up in the air. Quioto is too good to leave on the bench which means something has to give –probably Alex or Alexander/Cabezas unless we go back to the 4-3-3. That to me seems likely, but it’s great to know that for the first time this year Cabrera has a plan B that he can put out there when he needs to.

The Rest of the Starters:

GK: Joe Willis (6.7)

DEF: DaMarcus Beasley (6.8)

DEF: Adolfo Machado (6.7)

DEF: Kevin Garcia (6.1)

MID: Juan David Cabezas (6.7)

MID: Eric Alexander (6.2)

MID: Oscar Boniek Garcia (6.5)

FW: Erick “Cubo” Torres (6.5)

The Subs:

FW: Romell Quioto (6.4)

FW: Mauro Manotas (6)

FW: Andrew Wenger (5.6)