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Match Preview: Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake

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Two teams in desperate need of points will clash at BBVA Compass Stadium as RSL is still looking for only their 2nd road win of the year.

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

After a 2-0 road loss on Wednesday against LAFC, Real Salt Lake will travel to Houston this weekend to focus their efforts on getting a result against the Dynamo in the second of three straight games on the road.

Both teams are desperate for wins — in RSL’s case, it’s to stay in the playoff race. For Houston, they’re in need of some big points to catch up to the redline if they even want a chance at qualifying.

Houston holds the edge in the all-time series between the two, boasting a 12W-9L-6D record over RSL throughout 27 games played. However, the teams are dead even on scoring, notching 38 goals against each other.

The last time RSL played at BBVA Compass Stadium is no doubt a night that RSL players and fans alike would love to forget. The 5-1 win on May 31, 2017 over a visiting RSL was only half of the ill-fated Texas trip, as just three days later RSL got trounced again by FC Dallas with a score of 6-2.

Of course, the teams have played twice since then — both at Rio Tinto Stadium — with one ending in a 0-0 draw in August of 2017, and the most recent meeting resulting in a 2-1 win for Real Salt Lake back in May, thanks to a late-game winner from Kyle Beckerman in the 82nd minute.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 10-10-5 (35 points)
Table: 6th place (west), 10th place (overall)
Points per game: 1.40 (10th in MLS)
Most goals: Joao Plata (7)
Most assists: Damir Kreilach (6), Jefferson Savarino (6), Albert Rusnak (6)
Clean sheets: 6
Form: DDWDL

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Get some road points

This is a concept that has been hashed over hundreds of times this season, but it’s never been more true: RSL must find a way to get a result on the road. With only nine games left in the season — four of them at home and five of them away — it’s vital that RSL picks up points in at least a few of those five if they want to stay in the playoff picture. Still sitting at one win away from home all season long, Houston would be a fantastic place to start since the game against LAFC didn’t work out so well.

They’ve only won twice in Houston, so we know it can be done, despite whatever’s left of the infamous Texas curse. Also, the Dynamo are in a slump at the moment and have slipped all the way to 10th place in the West, so it would be perfect timing for RSL to finally get their mojo back.

Rimando in question

As we all saw, Nick Rimando was pulled from the LAFC game at halftime with a hamstring injury. He’s listed as questionable on the injury report, so we should probably expect fourth-string goalkeeper Andrew Putna to get the start in Houston, as both Alex Horwath and Connor Sparrow are still out with injuries of their own. Putna didn’t fare too bad for his MLS debut on Wednesday though, keeping LAFC off the scoresheet completely in the second half.

Fresh legs

As Petke fielded an interesting lineup in Los Angeles, it was clear he was resting some players for the match-up this weekend. Notably Damir Kreilach and Jefferson Savarino who didn’t log any minutes during the game and should be ready to go in Houston. Joao Plata also started the game on the bench but was brought in for some extra speed and attacking play during the second half.

Houston Dynamo

Record: 7-10-6 (27 points)
Table: 10th place (west), 17th place (overall)
Points per game: 1.17 (17th in MLS)
Most goals: Mauro Manotas (11)
Most assists: Romell Quioto (11)
Clean sheets: 4
Form: DLLLL

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Houston keeps on slippin’

Sitting in 10th place in the West and eight points out of playoff contention, Houston is in the midst of a seven-game winless streak, which includes a current four-game losing streak. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier after this weekend either, as they go on to play back-to-back games against conference-leaders FC Dallas, and then onto the New York Red Bulls and the Portland Timbers.

There’s no question they’ll be eyeing this game against RSL as a chance to grab three points, considering RSL’s woeful road record this season.

However, they’ll be missing one of their most potent scorers Alberth Elis — who has nine goals on the season — due to a yellow card accumulation suspension. In addition, they’ll be without defender AJ DeLaGarza and midfielder Juan David Cabezas due to injuries.

Houston nearly grabbed a point last week against Columbus, but a stoppage time game-winning goal from Gyasi Zardes stole all three points from the Dynamo who are in desperate need of any result they can get.

Playoffs approach

Just as bad as RSL needs points to stay above the red line, Houston will be looking to get any points they possibly can as they still sit well out of the playoff race in 10th place. If they want to make it into the postseason, they’ll have to get past some tough opponents and hope that their Western Conference foes sitting above them slip up over the next 10 weeks.


Absences

Real Salt Lake
OUT: Tony Beltran (knee), Jordan Allen (knee), Alex Horwath (achilles surgery), David Horst (torn achilles; out for season), Luke Mulholland (back), Ricky Lopez-Espin (knee), Connor Sparrow (knee), Luis Silva (groin)
QUESTIONABLE: Nick Rimando (hamstring)

Houston Dynamo
OUT: Alberth Elis (suspension), AJ DeLaGarza (ACL), Juan David Cabezas (quad), Mac Steeves (hip)

Expected lineups

RSL: Putna; Lennon, Besler, Glad, Herrera; Kreilach, Beckerman; Savarino, Rusnak, Plata; Baird

HOU: Willis; Machado, Watts, Leonardo, Beasley; Alexander, Boniek Garcia; Wenger, Martinez, Quioto; Manotas

Match info

When: Saturday, August 18, 7:00PM MT

Where: BBVA Compass Stadium — Houston, TX

Weather: 89 degrees, partly cloudy

Broadcast: KMYU, KSL TV app (streaming), ESPN+ (streaming), ESPN700 (radio)

Referee: Armando Villarreal