Dwayne De Rosario continues to improve each week, and was the best player on the field wearing white Saturday night. He opened up the high-scoring match with a wonderfully placed ball into the upper near corner of the net, beating a diving Jon Busch. De Rosario added two more assists to his tally that now has him on top of the league in that statistic.
The soon-to-be only designated players remaining on United's roster combined for United's final goal of the night as the team tried its best to mount a comeback and overcome the mistakes that the defense had made throughout the match. Hamdi Salihi's finish was far more difficult than evident at first glance, timing his run perfectly. He showed the quality we've been waiting to see all year. Hopefully he can show it every week.
He only got 45 minute of action, but Andy Najar made them count, and he did it while playing farther away from goal than normal. Najar got his first extended run of action at right back in two years, and he added a surprising element to the attack getting forward while also putting in the requisite effort in defense. His endline cross for United's second goal couldn't have been better. Daniel Woolard did well to finish the cross off too. Many players would have opted to bring that ball down with a chest or foot trap, but the low diving header was the right decision, and Woolard was rewarded for it. He was also probably United's most competent defender over the course of the 90 minute match, although that's not saying much.
It didn't make a whole lot of sense previously why the Houston Dynamo would let a young starter like Danny Cruz go so easily. It kind of makes sense now. He's prone to lapses of focus, never evident more than on the sequence leading to the Earthquakes' third goal. Cruz gave up a corner kick on an unforced error, and then deflected a ball over Joe Willis that the goalkeeper was poised to stop, for one of his few saves of the night. Willis may not have been directly at fault on many of the five goals allowed, he shouldn't have finished the game with only two saves. I think there may be another goalkeeper on United's roster that would have finished the game with more than two saves.
Perry Kitchen looked almost completely lost on several of the Earthquakes' goals. Almost as if he didn't even understand the center back position where he started the match. As if standing around and hoping to be in the way of a shot was the aim. I can't say much of anything better about Kitchen's replacement at central defensive midfield Marcelo Saragosa. He was nowhere to be found when he should have been marking the trailing man on Steven Lenhart's first goal. Both players should return to their natural positions on Saturday - Kitchen to the midfield, and Saragosa to the bench.
Brandon McDonald and Robbie Russell spent the second half of the match together in central defense, but looked really weak. McDonald always seems to be a step behind the opposing attackers, both figuratively (they think quicker than him) and literally (he keeps them onside). Russell meanwhile played a sloppy game and showed that having the term "veteran" often used as a descriptor doesn't necessarily translate into positive results. Carey Talley was a veteran in 2010 too.