It’s official: Real Salt Lake is headed to the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs after downing the Houston Dynamo by a score of 2-1. A first-minute goal from Corey Baird and a second-half beauty from Jefferson Savarino secured the win for the home side in what could prove to be Nick Rimando’s last-ever game at Rio Tinto Stadium, depending on if they get to host a playoff game or not.
RSL wasted no time opening the scoring as Corey Baird got things started off with a goal after just 40 seconds after kickoff to put the home side up 1-0. Baird found himself on a breakaway toward goal, decided to take on Houston ‘keeper Tyler Deric and put the ball past him easily, getting things started off in a big way for a team needing three points to clinch a playoff spot.
The Dynamo thought they had the equalizer in the 22nd minute when the ball ended up in the back of the net after a poor Rimando clearance followed by a huge Rimando save. The referee went to his VAR and after video review, called the goal back due to Alberth Elis being in an offside position when the first shot was taken, so RSL narrowly held onto their lead.
Houston got that equalizer just nine minutes later when Alberth Elis let a shot rip from near the end line but Rimando parried it back out into play. Tomas Martínez swooped in to grab the rebound and sent it into the back of the net, leveling the game at 1-1.
Houston had yet another one in the net just two minutes later, but this one was immediately called back by the AR for offside and was never allowed, as RSL looked to regain composure and control of the game.
The first half ended with no more goals as the teams went into the break all level at 1-1. RSL managed only one shot, which was Corey Baird’s goal in the first minute. Houston logged six shots overall with two on frame, and controlled 54% of possession.
Rusnak almost had a goal of his own in the 72nd minute when he found himself with a clear path to the goal near the top of the box. He fired a left-footed shot but Deric got a hand to it and was able to keep it out of the net.
Just a couple minutes later, RSL found what they were looking for when Savarino grabbed a quick pass from Bofo, took a touch and sent in a rocket to the far post with just enough bend on it to get around Deric’s outstretched hand and into the net, sending the home team up 2-1.
Savarino’s goal would prove to be the game winner, and Real Salt Lake heads to Vancouver next week with a playoff spot locked down, but with hopes of securing a home game in the first round.