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Real Salt Lake at Houston Dynamo - Match Preview & Game Thread - Updated

Well it is a few hours until kick off and I thought I would offer up a quick preview and then post some in match updates. So we know that these two teams often have ended up in matches that are physical and sometimes with controversy, and that is something that RSL really doesn't need. RSL is battling more injuries than at anytime I can remember, here is the injury list:

REALSALT LAKE - OUT: MF Nelson González (R foot fracture), MF Ned Grabavoy(L adductor strain); MF Javier Morales (L ankle fracture dislocation), DF Chris Wingert (L wrist fracture); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jamison Olave (L knee MCL strain); PROBABLE: MF Jean Alexandre (R knee internal pain), DF Tony Beltran (neck strain) GK Nick Rimando (R wrist pain), FW Álvaro Saborío (R knee effusion)

Then add in the fact that Will Johnson is in Salt Lake City, suspended for yellow card accumulation and you can see that RSL is facing more than just trying to recover from their loss at Toronto last weekend. These teams faced off at Rio Tinto just over two months ago and it ended in a 0-0 draw, and both teams really count on the entire team for both offense and defense. RSL has 13 players who have scored goals for them, 9 who have multiple goals and are lead by Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola who both have 6 goals scored this year. Houston has 11 players who have found the back of the net on their roster and 7 with multiple goals, they are lead by Geoff Cameron, Will Bruin, Brian Ching, and Cam Weaver all who have 4 goals. The most dangerous player on the Dynamo roster remains to be Brad Davis, who has 3 goals and 11 assists, those numbers mean that he is involved in about 50% of the teams goals.

After the jump I will tell you what I think RSL must do in order to win:

Well there are two very simple things that RSL must do (doing them is much more difficult), first is convert their chances, we saw last week that RSL could be the better team in a match but without finishing it only takes one mistake to lose a match. So far this year RSL has taken 312 shots, with 110 of them being on goal and only 30 have found the match of the net. This means we score on 10% of our shots, so taking close to twenty shots is the most likely way to get multiple goals.

The second things is to stop Brad Davis, something that RSL has struggled with in the past, he has 3 goals and 9 assists against RSL in 16 matches played. With Jamison Olave still recovering from the injury he suffered in the MLS All Star match, it is unlikely that he will see action in this match. The last couple matches the RSL defense has looked better after giving up multiple goals in back to back matches. RSL will also need to keep sharp as Brian Ching has done will against RSL in the past with 4 goals in 12 matches, but it could be a couple of unlikely threats that could surprise RSL. First is Jason Garey who came over from the Crew, and while he has just 164 minutes this year with Houston, he has scored 4 goals against RSL in just 436 minutes. Another threat could be newcomer Carlo Costly, the 29 year old Honduran National team player who joined the team recently and will likely see action against RSL.

For RSL the bright spot could be the return of Paulo Jr., who came in late at Toronto but could see more action in Houston as the hot and humid conditions will likely force RSL to make their changes early in the second half in order to keep energy on the pitch. This is going to be a very tough match for both teams, and I believe the difference will be which team can keep their emotions in check and keep Abbey Okulaja from paying them much attention.

I am picking this one to end up a 1-1 draw but with so much at stake for both teams, you shouldn't be surprised if this one ends up with a late goal being a difference maker.

I will be posting some match updates in the comments section, feel free to join in.