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RSL vs. Houston preview: RSL look to win second in a row

RSL travels to Houston against a Dynamo side who’s winless in three, hoping to grab another full three points.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake has a quick turnaround as they play their second of three games within eight days, first heading to Houston on Wednesday to face the Dynamo, while traveling to Dallas after that.

Where they stand

RSL (4-8-2, 14 points) is coming off a 1-0 win against the red-hot Philadelphia Union last weekend. They sit in 10th place in the west, but are only three points out of that sixth and last playoff spot, so it’s a pretty tight race near the bottom.

Houston (6-5-2, 20 points), although in the middle of a three-game winless skid, finds themselves in second place in the west, just two points behind the first-place holders Sporting Kansas City. The Dynamo’s most recent game produced a 0-0 draw at home against FC Dallas.

Match history

RSL has won three of the last five meetings between the two sides, although Houston has come out victorious the last two straight. Salt Lake had never won in Houston until May 11, 2014, when they soundly defeated the Dynamo by a score of 5-2. Since then, the teams have split the results at BBVA Compass Stadium, winning one each.

Houston holds the edge in the all-time series, with 11 wins, eight losses, and five draws through 24 total games played, though RSL has outscored them overall 35-32.

The last time these teams met was in September of last year when the Dynamo handed RSL their first home loss of the season with a 1-0 win, thanks to the lone goal from Alex in the 36th minute, assisted by Ricardo Clark.

Key players and personnel

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

While RSL is getting close to becoming fully healthy again, they lose a couple of key players this week due to international call-ups. Newcomer Jefferson Savarino will be away with the Venezuelan national team while Nick Rimando has been called up by Bruce Arena for the US Mens national team World Cup Qualifiers. In fact, the two countries will face off in a friendly on June 3 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Not to worry for Mike Petke, though, as he has options to replace Savarino on the wing even without Brooks Lennon and Bofo Saucedo. Luis Silva, Ricardo Velazco, and Jose Hernandez will all be prime candidates to get the starting nod, unless Petke decides to go with a 4-4-2 again, in which case the problem sorts itself out.

Tony Beltran made his first appearance for RSL since his back injury as he helped secure the 1-0 win against Philly last week, and he will be expected to come up huge on the backline again this week for Salt Lake. Kyle Beckman will also return to the lineup after serving his one-game suspension as well.

Petke will obviously have to think about rotating and resting some of the guys, though, as they have the quick turnaround into another road game at Dallas on Saturday.

On the Houston side, they’ll be without defender DaMarcus Beasley as he’s also been named to Bruce Arena’s roster.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The key to the Dynamo attack will lie in strikers Erick “Cubo” Torres, Romell Quioto, and Alberth Elis — as they’ve combined for 19 of the club’s 22 goals this season. Alberth Elis is still coming back from an injury, though he did play in the game against FC Dallas last week.

Alex helps control the tempo from the midfield and is also key to the Dynamo getting on the score sheet, as he has six assists on the season as well.

Leading scorers

RSL: Yura Movsisyan (4), Albert Rusnak (3), Luke Mulholland (2)

Houston: Cubo Torres (9), Alberth Elis (5), Romell Quioto (4)

Expected lineups

RSL: Van Oekel; Beltran, Schuler, Maund, Wingert; Mulholland, Rusnak, Beckerman; Silva, Movsisyan, Plata

Houston: Deric; DeLaGarza, Machado, Leonardo, K Garcia; Clark, Cabezas, Alex; Manotas, Torres, Elis

Match info

When: Wednesday, May 31, 6:30PM MT

Where: BBVA Compass Stadium — Houston, TX

Weather: 77 degrees, mostly cloudy

Broadcast: KMYU, ESPN 700, MLS Live

Referee: Ricardo Salazar