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Preview: RSL hosts grudge match v. Dynamo

Real Salt Lake host Dynamo, eye climbing the West

Click here for the MLS Game Guide for RSL v. HOU

The basics

Real Salt Lake (3-3-1, 5th in the Western Conference) vs. Houston Dynamo (4-3-1, 2nd in the Western Conference)

Houston lead the all-time series with a 7-2-4 record against Real Salt Lake.

TV info

9 p.m. ET, ESPN2/Deportes

What's at stake?

This is a budding rivalry—several recent matches have been hotly contested down to the wire. The two teams will likely battle throughout the season for positioning in the top half of the Western Conference. A win for Real Salt Lake would pull them level with the Dynamo in the standings.

Last meeting

In April, Real Salt Lake visited Houston and took a rare lead early on the road. All of that was erased by two separate penalty kicks three minutes apart in the opening minutes of the second half, giving Houston a 2-1 victory. Both penalties came off fouls committed in the box by defender Jamison Olave.

Heroes & Villains

Brian Ching vs. Jamison Olave — This should be the premier matchup, but injuries may avert this battle. The two have exchanged harsh words in several recent matches, and one altercation ultimately led to Olave's ejection in 2009. Ching injured his hamstring in the last match between these two teams and is just returning to form. Olave has had a chronic knee injury that coach Jason Kreis hinted could keep him out of this one.

Javier Morales vs. Richard Mulrooney This could be an intriguing battle for supremacy in the middle of the field. If Houston comes out in the 4-3-3 like a week ago, it could open up space for Morales, who was not at his very best last week after an illness the week prior. If Real Salt Lake are able to control the ball in the middle of the park, it could limit what Houston want to do out on the wings.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm …”

Houston have a +16 foul differential (100 suffered, 84 committed), and their savvy in this regard could play to their advantage against an RSL team that has given up four penalty kick goals this season.

He said it

“It’s a special game for us.”—Javier Morales on the chance at avenge a 2-1 loss against Houston earlier in the season.


Keys to the Game
Real Salt Lake
  • Maintain possession in the middle of the park
  • Limit set pieces for Houston from dangerous spots on the field
  • Carefully mark Dynamo attackers inside the area

  • Must use width of the field and open up space inside the area
  • Need to give Brad Davis’ left foot a few good free kick chances
  • Is Ching healthy enough to shake free of Borcher/Olave inside the area?
Real Salt Lake

QUESTIONABLE: FW Fabian Espíndola (L ankle sprain); FW Robbie Findley (lower back contusion); MF Nelson González (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Ned Grabavoy (R knee MCL sprain)


OUT: MF Geoff Cameron (R knee); FW Cam Weaver (R knee strain); DF Eddie Robinson (R knee sprain); DOUBTFUL: FW Luis Ángel Landín (concussion)