Real Salt Lake Look To Protect Home Pitch Against Houston Dynamo

Jun 25, 2021, 11:37 AM | Updated: Dec 9, 2022, 11:59 am
soccer players celebrate...
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake will welcome the Houston Dynamo to Rio Tinto Stadium this upcoming Saturday evening. It will be the first fixture between the two clubs since September 29, 2019, when RSL secured its place in the Western Conference Playoffs with a 2-1 victory.

Key Storylines

The fixture will be the third game in nine days for RSL and the third game in eight days for the Dynamo. RSL has earned one win and one loss in the nine-day period while Houston has tallied two draws against LAFC and Portland respectively.

The fixture also proves meaningful for assistant coach Pablo Mastroeni, who left Houston during the off-season to join RSL in the same position. While former Monarch’s head coach Martin Vasquez is currently an assistant coach for the Dynamo. Vasquez spent significant time within the RSL organization as he helped at the Academy level before becoming the Monarch’s main man.

Both clubs are very familiar with one and another, adding to the anticipation of the clash.

The Fortress

History suggests that RSL will secure three points this weekend. The last loss that RSL suffered against Houston came back in May of 2017. RSL’s only defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium to Houston fell in 2016.

So far this season, RSL has proved that Rio Tinto Stadium is once again a fortress. They have only lost once, drawn twice and won on two occasions. The only loss came against San Jose when RSL found themselves up 1-0 with 7 minutes remaining. Chris Wondowloaski scored a brace in a matter of five minutes to snatch all three points away from home.

Given how many games both teams have played in just over a week, expect both Freddy Juarez and Tab Ramos to utilize fresh legs.

No player is listed on the injury list for RSL, however, during their recent midweek clash with Seattle, left-back Andrew Brody was subbed off in the second half due to a cramp. His status ahead of this weekend’s game remains unclear.

Much like RSL, the Dynamo are also fully fit and under no injury cloud.

Danger Looms In Dynamo Orange

The Dynamo has a number of players that can hurt RSL if Ramos opts to play them. Nobody is more dangerous than Maximiliano Urruti, the Argentine striker who leads the Dynamo in goals with five on the year thus far.

Alongside Urruti is the Canadian Tyler Pasher who returned from injury recently and has been pivotal in the attacking third for the Dynamo.

Fafa Picault is a dangerous box-to-box midfielder that will prove challenging if he gets the nod against RSL. He is fast, elusive, skillful, and has an impressive vision. Picault is a game-changer for the Dynamo when he is firing on all cylinders.

Houston is a talented team that likes to attack centrally. When the ball goes into the wings, Urruti will hover around the back post in an attempt to catch the goalkeeper off guard.

However, they are an aggressive team. They throw a lot of numbers forward and look to have the numerical advantage when the ball is in their attacking third. During their last game, Portland clawed back from being down 2-0 and one of the main reasons for the comeback was due to the aggressive nature of Houston.

Portland’s first goal came following a Houston Dynamo corner kick when Portland counter-attacked and found themselves in a two versus one scenario in which they capitalized on.

Although, as many teams have done over the years and will likely continue to do at Rio Tinto Stadium, Houston is expected to surrender possession and play far less aggressively than they did against Portland at home.

Away teams consider a point at Rio Tinto Stadium a win. So expect to see Houston attempt to take all of the sting out of the contest and play deep in their own territory.

Match Info

RSL and Houston will square off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 26, at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The match will be available to stream via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.

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Real Salt Lake Look To Protect Home Pitch Against Houston Dynamo