Yesterday was an important game for the Houston Dynamo in more ways than one. Houston was going to take the field at BBVA Compass Stadium for the first time during the regular season since the World Cup break, and they could finally count on Oscar Boniek Garcia, Brad Davis, who just returned from the World Cup, and Ricardo Clark.
It should be obvious to everybody that when these three players are on the field together, Houston tends to perform a thousand fold better than without them. They are the core of this team. I would go as far as to say that as we have these three players performing on all cylinders, every other players is replaceable.
Ricardo Clark is an especially important piece of the Houston mid-field in that he plays the anchor role which allows a player like Boniek space to move forward as he pleases. This led to a game in which the Dynamo seemed to have more ball movement than in previous games, and we were actually witness to a more attack-oriented Dynamo than in the recent past.
I’m not going to say that Houston played a great game; it was an average game, but as low as this team has sunk in recent times, it was a pleasant improvement. An improvement that may be too little too late, but at least there’s a sign of the fighting spirit in the team that we have not seen in a while.
The game started with a Giles Barnes goal within the first 40 seconds, which was a treat to say the least. It came off of a Kofi Sarkodie cross, which leads me to believe that he took Klinsmann to heart when he said he’s going to be looking for a youth movement. Kofi Sarkodie almost looked Yedlin-esque in that run down the flank, and if he can keep on creating plays like that Davis and Boniek will have less pressure to perform.
Giles Barnes ended an almost 500-minute scoreless drought for the Houston Dynamo; not counting U.S. Open Cup games but if Dom doesn’t count them why should we?
However, while it was nice to see a somewhat attack-oriented Houston Dynamo, they were lacking somewhat in defense. The first New York Red Bull goal came off of an Eric Brunner mistake. He lost his footing and gave Bradley Wright-Phillips enough space to score.
Eric Brunner has not looked sharp since returning from injury and I’m hoping he improves after getting a couple of more games under his belt, if not it doesn’t really matter how well our offense starts performing if our defense isn’t up to the task. Bradley Wright-Phillips is currently the Golden Boot leader and should be marked closely and not given any space in any situation.
I would go as far as to say that BWP is out-performing Henry and Cahill in New York. Eventually BWP ended up with a brace, and Houston got lucky by tying the game up at two on a bad penalty call in which Brad Davis converted. At the very least, as I stated before, it was nice to see an Houston team that kept on battling until the final minute. As opposed to one that calls it in mid-game.
I’m going to try something different for this post-game and release some ratings on each third (and goalkeeping). Bear with me as this is something new I’m trying out:
Goalkeeping: 6.0 – I can’t really fault Tally Hall for any of the goals. His saves were good and kept us in the game. However, he needs to work on his clearances and there was an instance or two in which he read back passes incorrectly and had to punt the ball in a panic.Hall also lacks in starting plays from the back which is something every goalkeeper should have some skill at, especially since they are in perfect position to see weak spots on the field.
Defense: 5.5 – It only allowed two goals this time, which is an improvement on past games – I’m only semi-kidding. However, Brunner was caught flat-footed a few times, A.J. Cochran still needs to work on positioning and play reading, and Creavalle is prone to making mistakes on 50/50 balls. The only bright spot was Kofi and that’s because he added to the attack and his speed could cover up some mistakes he made.
Midfield: 6.5 – What a difference a returning Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis can make! This was Oscar Boniek Garcia’s second game back, but his first game back in somewhat his old form. Boniek may have not performed as well as in the past, but at the very least he’s showing some flashes of his earlier form. This was in major part due to the fact that Ricardo Clark gave Boniek the freedom that he so needs.
Brad Davis was easily the man of the match. He seemed to be running on a second gear, and still had energy left to make some deadly crosses up until the 90th minute. If Houston is to have any chance at qualifying for the playoffs, it will be due to his leadership. He really leads by example, and I am convinced that Houston’s newly found fighting spirit was in large part due to the fact that Davis did not slow down throughout the whole game.
Offense: 5.5 – Giles Barnes scored with a nice header, but other than that the offense looked dead. Even though attacks were being created, there was nobody there to put in the finishing touch. Will Bruin is only embarrassing himself more and more in each passing game. His misses are almost as bad Chris Wondolowski’s miss against Belgium (Too soon? For the record, he wasn’t offsides and the linesman was calling for a goal kick). Our midfield, defense, and goalkeeping can be performing at all cylinders, but if there’s nobody to score. The best we can do is hope for a 0-0 draw.
Team Rating: 6.0 – Nice return and the team showed some fight but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Victories are also needed, not draws that were practically gifted to the team by the referee.