REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake Hopes To Crack Dynamo Code In Upcoming Third Attempt

Aug 17, 2021, 3:52 PM
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake...
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake and the Houston Dynamo have played each other twice already this season with both games resulting in draws, this Wednesday will mark the final regular-season fixture between the two teams.

Given the current landscape of the Western Conference and the inevitable nail-biting finish for playoff acceptance, the looming fixture against the Dynamo looms pivotal for RSL’s hopes of maintaining credibility.

Currently, RSL sits in the sixth position in the Western Conference, two spots clear of the cut-line. However, just one point separates them and LAFC who are in eighth place.

Houston, on the other hand, is in 11th place, two points clear of the bottom dwellers Austin and five points shy of being in a playoff position.

The upcoming fixture for both clubs is monumental.

Fortunately, RSL is relatively healthy but will be without goalkeeper David Ochoa for at least one more game as he recovers from a leg injury. Houston has three players listed as questionable, including former RSL forward Corey Baird who is dealing with a “lower-body injury”. Houston will be without Nico Lemoine who is still recovering from a right groin injury.

Houston enters the fixture without having won since May 22nd, a stretch that lasts 12 games. RSL enters the contest having beaten Austin 1-0 last Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Dangers Of Houston

Despite what the standings, form, and statistics may suggest, Houston is an aggressive team that wants to play direct. They will press RSL deep into their own territory and look to win the ball back in dangerous areas of the pitch. Houston will also try and expose the space between RSL’s backline and the goalkeeper by playing long through balls in front of their attacking players.

RSL will need to be at their best to limit the ability of Houston.

Clean, crisp, and sharp passing will be pivotal if RSL leaves Rio Tinto Stadium with points on Wednesday evening. Short and medium passes along the ground will need to be pinpoint, and spreading the defensive structure through diagonal long balls will also be important.

RSL’s Answer

RSL will look to find the “half-space”, as Juarez eluded to during his most recent press conference.

The half-space is the space in between the formation. The example Juarez used was if, say, Aaron Herrera played a pass into the midfield, RSL will then look to play a quick, flat pass into the open side along the ground. Juarez does not believe that his team will need to play a ton of long, diagonal passes through the air to utilize the space on the pitch. Rather, he hopes his team can be more controlled in their movements and link up with midfield players to push the ball onto the open side of the pitch.

Either way, RSL players will need to be swift in their movements when they have the ball and when they do not.

Houston’s outside backs are very aggressive. They will push high up the pitch to press and hope that their center-backs can cover up and open space. RSL will look to capitalize on the space provided and believe that they can make enough concerning movements off the ball to expose the defense of Houston.

RSL is also very wary of the trouble that can materialize if their passing and off the football movement is not precise. Houston will try to trap RSL deep into their own territory with their press and try to force RSL to turn the ball over in very dangerous parts of the pitch. If RSL is not precise in their ball movement, they could very easily concede a soft goal.

Match Info

RSL and Houston will kick off at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, August 18 from Rio Tinto Stadium.

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

The match will mark RSL’s annual Military appreciation night. The club intends on honoring all of the branches of the United States Military by donating a portion of the ticket sales to help pay for travel and other tournament expenses for the Hill Air Force soccer club. During the first weekend in September, San Antonio, Texas, will host the Defender’s Cup, a military soccer tournament. 

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