So depending what time I get out of work I may be live blogging the match tonight, but I thought I would open up a thread to let everyone share their thoughts on the match:
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Until match time,
OFF MY SOAPBOX
My thoughts and play by play after the jump
The starting lineup for Real Salt Lake is: Rimando, Russell, Olave, Borchers, Wingert, Beckerman, Johnson, Grabavoy, Morales, Espindola, and Saborio. It looks like RSL is going to look to wear down Houston and then give them a dose of Robbie Findley off the bench, a role in which Robbie excelled last year.
Just saw a cool little snippit about the MLS Cup Championship rings that the players will get next weekend, I love that my company is making them.
So the question is will RSLbe able to start as hot as they did last weekend, Houston isn't San Jose but without Holden or Clark, I think they are going to struggle. You simply can't lose two MLS All Stars/USMNT players and not have it make a huge impact, can Morales and Beckerman take advantage of it?
Well so far Houston hss played the ball out several times and committed the first foul of the match, and the clock hasn't even hit the two minute mark yet. A good free kick into the box but Onstad is there to punch it out, but RSL keep possession of the ball. Nice graphic on the fact that Houston has started very slow the last few years and I am sure RSL would like to keep it that way.
A good stretch of possession for Houston but the end up playing it out but get it right back and into the box but Nick is there to grab it up and get it back deep in the Houston end of the pitch. It looks like the narrow pitch is giving RSL a little bit of trouble but I am sure they will figure out what they need to do, but the ball keeps going back and forth which is common place in the early minutes of matches.
RSL dodge a bullet as Wingert misses a play and Houston get a corner but can't convert it, something they were able to do early last time these two teams matched up, when Houston scored in 2nd and 5thminutes of the match. No such luck for Houston this time around, as the clock hits 10:00 and we are tied up at 0-0.
RSL get their first corner of the night but nothing dangerous but RSL is doing a good job of keeping the ball in the Houston endof the pitch. A second corner kick for Javi, and a good ball but nobody from RSL could get their head on it, and Beckerman fires a wild shot from distance and it goes out for a goal kick.
Well despite the late start in Houston, a number of empty seat can be seen, RSL attack but Johnson loses the ball and commits a foul to break up the counter. RSL gets it right back, a foul on Javi but the official gives the advantage, and this one is already getting a bit physical and I hope the official is able to keep control of the match.
RSL is winning the possession battle and RSL is up 1-0 on a goal from Javi as a great ball from Saborio, goes to Kyle, and then Javi puts it in the goal.
Fabifollows it up with a cracker of a shot from distance that is just wide of the goal, and RSL is keeping up the pressure early and as long as the ball spends most of match in the Houston end, that will be a good thing. Odurogets behind the defense and Davis takes a shot that is high and wide of the goal, but showing that Houston can be dangerous.
You can see that Houston is stepping up their efforts as they look to get something going to get back even in the match, Ching plays in a ball but Olave clears it and a foul on Javier Morales and RSL restart the attack. Houston seems to have finially woken up, and they look better. Now RSL will need to figure out how to counter when Houston pushes forward.
It is clear that they do miss Clark and Holden as their midfield isn't able to really hold possession for extended periods of time, which will allow RSLto dictate the pace of the match. A nice run by Houston but Nick is there to close down the play as Ching can't get there. RSL need to get control of the match again, just like they had to do after the first goal last weekend. Ching dives in the box as he is shouldered by Borchers, and he may have hurt himself as he went down and he is coming out of the match, I think he actually hurt himself before the contact.
This will really hurt Houston as depth up top isn't something that Houston has, it looks like Landin will be coming in to fill the void left by Ching. RSL needs to take advantage of this situation while they have a man advantage as Houston wait to get him into the match, and has the clock hits 30:00 the change is made but RSL is still up 1-0.
The first offside of the night goes against RSL as Javi is caught a bit forward, so with Houston having to use an early sub, the ability to bring in Findley late could really be huge now as the Dynamo only will have two changes left. Houston is finding themselves in the same boat as San Jose as they start playing long balls and try to then build their attack that way, so far RSL's defense has held but this is a dangerous way to play. A free kick for Houston from well outside of the danger zone and Rimando catches it snd tries to get RSL back on the attack, a good turn by Fabi but his shot leaves something to be desired.
Olave fouls Oduro, and you can tell that Houston is going down easy when contact is made as they know the history of cards in this matchup. RSL give up the ball in their own half but Houston is unable to create anything too dangerousand RSL goes long but it goes back to Houston. RSL look to be organizing a bit of an attack, but an offside call sends it back to Houston.
We are still sitting at 1-0 with RSL in front, and the update on Ching is a hamstring. Houston gets a corner and Olave's clearance doesn't get out of the box but Houston's shot goes out for a goal kick but Houston is really trying to get something going before the whistle blows for halftime and Landin is flagged for offside but the shot was saved by Rimando.
I have to say RSL hasn't looked nearly as dangerous in the last twenty minutes as they did in the first twenty, they will need to make some adjustments at halftime. RSL are playing far back and almost look like they have gone into a bit of a shell, perhaps just trying to get out of the half and get ready for the second half. It is interesting that while it is snowing in Salt Lake City, it is in the high 70's and humid in Houston and it looks like players on both sides are looking forward to the halftime break.
Mullen goes down and Wingert gets a yellow card for a late tackle, A good ball by Houston but Rimando is there to punch it out and RSL goes into the half with a 1-0 lead.
Well RSL is going to try to make it another match of big firsts, first win in Houston and the second ever regular season two game road winning streak, it would also extend our winning streak to 7 matches. Of course RSL will need to add to their lead and prevent Houston from getting back into the match.
A corner kick for Houston, and another well played ball but it goes over the top and out of danger. RSL had a 4-3 lead in shots, and the only shot on goal in the first half. I really think the narrow pitch is causing issues for RSL who seem to be struggling to find room to play the ball and get some space. Hey one upside to this match, the officials have dumped the red shirts with the yellow stripes that looked like leftovers from Mickey D's.
Nice play by Grabavoy to break up a Houston attack but Houston is looking much more dangerous and it looks like some communication issues for RSL in back, they need to get that dealt with quickly. Well it was only a matter of time before RSL cracked under the pressure, and contact in the box gives Houston a PK as Olave is called for a foul and Houston's Davis ties the match up and we are 1-1.
Wow now a yellow card for Olave and another PK, because RSL can't pull together and keep the ball out of the area, and now Davis is back for another PK and he beats Rimando again and now Houston is up 2-1 on two PK's just minutes apart.
Something needs to change and I would say Williams for Johnson and Findley for Saborio in the next couple minutes. We simply haven't gotten the ball to Fabi enough tonight and we have allowed Houston to get too much possession and now a long ball over the top but nothing comes of it, we get it back and some good passing but the ball in from Russell goes out for a throw in. Saborio gets a head on it but it is an easy catch for Onstad, but RSL seem to have started to pay attention and when Beckerman is taken down in the box, there is no call for RSL on as much contact as the last Houston PK.
60th minute sees Findley in for Saborio, I still think we need some more creativity and possession in the midfield and so far Johnson has been a bit flat. RSL gets a corner kick but it is played out to safety and Russell fires a shot that goes wide and out for a goal kick.
A nice ball off the throw in by Johnson but Findley wasn't able to get there and it goes back over to Houston, ball for Findley, back out to the midfield as RSL sets up and end up playing it back to try to create some room but the ball by Wingert is poor and back to Houston.
A big effort will be needed if RSL are going to be able to get back even and fight for the win, the energy the last few minutes has been much better over the last few minutes but they need to create more chances and then we need to be able to finish.
Williams on for Grabavoy as RSL looks for some creative energy, Hosuton is playing more deliberate now as they protect their lead but they are still attacking when they can, and now a change for Houston Ashe in for Mullen. This could cause some issues as Corey Ashe has some speed that could cause RSL to have to hold back their defenders instead of pushing up so high.
Nice ball by Findley, and a shot by Fabi but it goes off the post and the rebound is dealt with. RSL attack again and the header by Johnson goes right to Onstad and now Houston counter but it goes out for a goal kick. It is funny that the chemistry for RSL looks much better with Findley in the match. A good ball by Houston is headed out for a corner by Wingert, and Houston will be setting up to add to their lead but Nick catches the ball and gets everyone moving forward again. It really looks like RSL is struggling for space on the very narrow pitch.
So RSl has finally looked to be playing with some energy but can they finish? Jason makes his final change taking out Johnson and bringing in Nelson Gonzalez, as all 3 of RSL's Argie's are on the pitch for the first time. With just under 15 minutes RSL is looking the better of the two sides but they will need to convert. A great play by Olave to shut down Oduro on the attack and RSL is again building their attack.
Nelson shows his speed and gets called for a foul on Ashe, but Houston only get a poor effort on goal from it and the end result is a RSL goal kick. RSL seem to be playing with a calm that is unusual for them on the road or when behind, and with just 10 minutes left I would like to see a bit more urgency from everyone and Houston is getting far too many chances.
The 5th corner of the night for Houston, a good ball but it goes out for a goal kick, now will RSL waste another long ball or just play it to create some possession, long ball and right back to Houston. They turn it over to RSL who end up giving it back on a throw in, I like the energy of Nelson but he seems to be on a different sheet of music than everyone else.
Funny that Kinnear was upset as Oduro took a break at midfield by sitting down and playing hurt and RSL didn't play it out, he was so hurt he just dashed 40 yards to try to get on a ball. Teach your players to play and not fake injury to slow the match, instead of complaining.
RSL needs to step it up the final 5 minutes, corner kick goes into the box and out for another one as RSL is packing the box looking for an equalizer but this one is cleared out for a RSL throw in and then it goes right to Onstad as time is running out on RSL. The final change for Houston, Palmer in for Davis with just a minute left in the match,
Three minutes of stoppage time, is all that RSL will have as they look to equalize, but a bad ball by Neslon is cleared out but RSL keeps possession and have a free kick from 40 yards out. Javi to take it and his chip shot is cleared out and another Houston player is laying down on the ptich as RSL try to get play started again.
Houston clears it out to the RSL side of the pitch and RSL brings it back in and things get real chippy as Boswell and Espindola battle in the corner and both get yellows. The Onstad kick and the whistle blows as RSL get beat 2-1 on a couple of PK's, one that was questionable at best and another that is a mystery call as Landin was down before any contact was made.
Now RSL has 10 days to focus and get ready to face Seattle at home.