CARSON, Calif, — A tale of two halves in this one. All week I’d told anyone who’d listen that Houston would win by pinning LA’s fullbacks and controlling the center of the midfield with a 4-3-3, and at the break I thought I might’ve been a genius.
Sure, the Dynamo were in more of a 4-1-3-2, but they kept winning second balls and wouldn’t really let the Galaxy threaten save for a single counterattack.
Then the second half happened, and LA showed us all that they are the single most talented team in league history. Wow.
Let's get to the ratings:
Josh Saunders (4) – Had a fair share of responsibility on Calen Carr’s goal, going to ground too soon and giving up the entire near post. Made several good saves, nothing spectacular. He’s probably glad he’s not the story right now.
Todd Dunivant (5.5) – Struggled with Houston’s pace on the flanks in the first half, but settled in for a solid second 45. Kept himself in good positions both defensively and in possession.
Tommy Meyer (6) – Lack of awareness on Carr’s run played a part in the goal, but that was about the only foot he put wrong all night. Not going to be a dominant player in this league, just a very, very good one for a very long time.
WATCH: Gonzalez levels the game
Omar Gonzalez (9) – Won everything in the air, never got turned on the ground, and was the best player for the best team. His goal changed the game. The only blip was keeping Carr onside, but damn if he didn’t make up for it in a big, big way.
Sean Franklin (5) – Basically a non-factor on both sides of the ball. Had his chances to make a mark going forward, but just couldn’t get it done. Struggled a bit with Dynamo players getting in behind him in the first half, but scrambled well.
Mike Magee (7) – Hard defensive work and calm passing in possession. Could have done better on a first-half set piece, and did perfectly in the second half when his bicycled shot helped cause the first PK, and eventual game-winning goal.
Juninho (7.5) – Houston kept winning the second ball for about 45 minutes, at which point Juninho locked in and made the midfield his. I can’t believe São Paolo think they don’t have any use for this guy. Cross for the equalizer was inch-perfect as well.
David Beckham (6.5) – Fought and scrapped all over the pitch, and hit maybe the best pass in the league this year in the 53rd minute. Just stunning. Phenomenal player who will be missed.
Christian Wilhelmsson (3) – He’s where LA’s attacks went to die, for the most part. He does offer pace and width, making it easier for Donovan and Keane to get on the ball, but other than that he’s just brutal out there.
Landon Donovan (6) – Missed a sitter and just didn’t look sharp on the day. But he still potted the game-winning PK, and did real grunt work on the right flank for the game’s last 20 minutes. He’s still a competitor, and didn’t look like a guy who might retire. But a six-month break? I buy that.
Robbie Keane (8) – Constant menace, and definitely deserved the goal at the end. Watching him and Donovan in full flight is simply breathtaking. Should have had an assist added to his tally on the evening as well.
Edson Buddle (5) – Handed out some abuse, but wasn’t really a factor save for helping clear some late set pieces.
Michael Stephens (5) – Mostly just solid defensive work and mistake-free passing.
Marcelo Sarvas (NR) – A nice cameo, and a badass celebration in front of the ACB.
Tally Hall (6) – Made himself huge on the Donovan miss, stoned Keane at least once, and did everything he could on the set pieces. Conceded the second PK, but pretty much every ‘keeper in the league would have made that same choice. Tally, this one wasn’t your fault. Not remotely.
Corey Ashe (5) – Was more of a presence defensively than on the overlap, which may have been one of Houston’s problems on the day. When he’s pushing up, that lets Brad Davis get inside and control the central midfield. It didn’t happen.
Bobby Boswell (4) – Was close to flawless for about 60 minutes, then got caught ball-watching on the Gonzalez equalizer, a cardinal sin for any central defender. Ended up being a step slow for the rest of the game as Keane and a change to the 3-5-2 eventually wore him down.
Jermaine Taylor (5) – Was dominant in the first half, but ended up scrambling for the entire second half. Not sure there are a lot of defenders in MLS who could have done better with the Galaxy playing like that.
Kofie Sarkodie (7) – Once again proved to be a weapon going forward and was solid in defense as well. Nearly picked up another playoff goal, which wouldn’t have been undeserved. Big, bright future for him.
Adam Moffat (6) – Made one killer pass, but didn’t leave much of an imprint on the game otherwise. Was fast enough to close down space for the most part, and didn’t commit any egregious errors.
Rico Clark (5) – Ran his tail off on both sides of the ball, but there were so, so many moments in the first half where he was in position to make a killer pass but just didn’t see it. Like the rest of the Dynamo, the formation change when they went down a goal left him exposed.
WATCH: Carr puts Houston up early
Brad Davis (5) – Created a number of good looks early on, working mostly down the left flank, and was his usual solid self in possession. But when the game got desperate, he was slow to make decisions in the final third and didn’t trust his right foot.
Boniek García (6.5) – Houston’s best midfield moments came when he was involved, which didn’t happen enough since he was way out wide for most of the time. If he’d been tighter, this could have been a different game.
Will Bruin (4) – Wasn’t overawed, and his clever movement opened up the LA defense on Carr’s goal, but just didn’t have his touch on the night and was frankly dominated physically by Gonzalez.
Calen Carr (8) – Well-taken goal and a pretty memorable celebration to boot. His movement and pace are crucial to Houston’s attack, and his injury was an absolute killer. It came apart when he came off.
Macoumba Kandji (3) – Brought nothing. Was repeatedly closed down 1-v-1 by Landon Donovan, who’s not exactly Fabio Cannavaro out there.
Giles Barnes (6) – Really, really like what he brings to the Dynamo midfield. Composed and creative on the ball. If he’s healthy next year, he’s probably a starter and quite possibly a star.
Brian Ching (6.5) – Still a warrior, still a difference maker. Another guy who shouldn’t retire just yet.