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Player Ratings: Houston Dynamo vs. Atlanta United FC

It was high marks all around as the Houston Dynamo were able to take down visiting Atlanta United 4-0.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In their opening game of the 2018 MLS season, the Houston Dynamo looked dominant from back to front as the club took down Atlanta United FC 4-0. The Dynamo came out aggressive early and never let up. From time to time Houston opted to extend their time of possession if there weren’t any openings to exploit as they were keen to let Atlanta chase the game rather than sit back on their lead. From a style of play perspective, this team did what it’s good at. Counter attacking quickly and making the best of set piece opportunities.

The player ratings averaged out pretty fairly for everyone. The team played well so it was high marks all around.

The Top Performers:

Alberth Elis, Man of the Match, (9.2) – Alberth Elis was a handful for Atlanta United and that’s putting it mildly. His ability to turn on the jets surprised defenders (see the game’s opening goal for a perfect example) which forced turnovers and hasty clearances. Although Elis himself didn’t end up on the score sheet, he is currently tied at the top as the assist leader in MLS. His first assist was to Andrew Wenger which was a perfect ball across the mouth of goal for Wenger to tap in. His second was a ball he played again to Wenger who was able to get the ball to Mauro Manotas to slot in. Elis was a standout in this one even with just about everyone else playing at the top of their game. There’s a reason he was on the MLS Team of the Week.

Philippe Senderos (8.7) – The other player on the MLS Team of the Week is Senderos. Some weren’t sure that Senderos would start over Leonardo who was Adolfo Machado’s primary center back partner in 2017. Senderos scored a spectacular headed goal in the 23rd minute. A short corner (ugh) that saw Oscar Boniek García and Eric Alexander exchange passes, Boniek whipped in a cross which found its target in Senderos who smashed the ball into the net. Defensively, Senderos had 3 tackles and a blocked shot and his passing was on point. Sometimes Senderos gets a little too creative with his passing out of the back, but this time his passes generally found their target.

Andrew Wenger (8.5) – Wenger should see increased playing time this season with Mauro Manotas not eating into his minutes on the wing. This is great because Wenger plays both sides of the ball very well. Against Atlanta he was active at getting back and helping with defensive duties and he was good at getting behind the defense with his runs. It was his runs in particular that made him so effective. His trailing run on the opening goal saw him slowly get behind his defender and then accelerate to put the ball in the net. His assist to Manotas also showed a clever run as he got, once again, behind his defender and got enough on the ball to set up Manotas.

Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera (8.7) – Hard to complain about Wilmer Cabrera’s game plan. The team took control and punished Atlanta nearly every chance they got. The defense looked a lot more composed and only looked out of sorts a handful of times which Atlanta was unable to capitalize on. The team was playing without Tomás Martínez and Juan David Cabezas’s day would end prematurely just 15th minutes in, but players stepped up - Darwin Cerén in particular. The team will need to build up play better against clubs that sit back more, but we’ll have to see how Martínez can address that concern down the line. Against Atlanta, the game plan worked and it maximized Houston’s strengths to their fullest.

The Rest of the Starters:

GK: Chris Seitz (7.2)

DEF: DaMarcus Beasley (7.8)

DEF: Adolfo Machado (8.0)

DEF: Kevin Garcia (7.6)

MID: Juan David Cabezas (6.7)

MID: Oscar Boniek García (7.2)

MID: Eric Alexander (7.3)

FW: Mauro Manotas (8.4)

The Subs:

MID: Darwin Cerén (8.1)

FW: Arturo Álvarez (7.1)

FW: Romell Quioto (6.8)