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Real Salt Lake Fall 2-1 in First Leg of Best-of-Three Round One Series in Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs

HOUSTON, Texas (Sunday, October 29, 2023) – Real Salt Lake (14-12-8, 50 points, 5th West) were unable to complete the comeback, falling 2-1 at Houston Dynamo in the first leg of a best-of-three series in Round One of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. The team will now return to America First Field for the second game of Round One, a must-win match for Real Salt Lake to be played on Monday, November 6; tickets available at

Real Salt Lake found itself under pressure early, as the Houston Dynamo, holders of the best home record (11W-2L-4T) in Major League Soccer 2023’s regular season, threatened the backline multiple times in the opening minutes. After withstanding the waves of pressure through the first 20 minutes, Houston finally broke through with former Mexican National Team captain Hector Herrera clipping his shot into the far post. 

The Claret-and-Cobalt nearly leveled the score in the 35th minute, when **Bryan Oviedo** found himself one-on-one with Steve Clark, his shot slipping past the goalkeeper, but a Houston defender saved the ball off the line. One minute later, **Diego Luna** curled an attempt towards goal, but his attempt skimmed the outside of the far post. Despite gaining more offensive momentum, RSL was unable to find the equalizer and headed into the halftime break with the one-goal deficit. 

A pair of halftime changes came, along with a third shortly after due to the injury of **Bode Hidalgo**, creating a renewed energy from RSL coming out of the halftime break, finding a more consistent offensive footing. In the 54th minute, Luna provided the RSL equalizer, bringing down a cross from Anderson Julio before slipping his shot underneath the diving arms of Clark, becoming the youngest playoff goal scorer in Club history. 

In the 63rd minute, Houston was inches away from reclaiming the lead, but former RSL Academy product Corey Baird’s shot deflected off the right post and the Dynamo were unable to capitalize on the loose ball. With the score level at 1-1, the game began to open up as the two sides traded opportunities, back and forth, switching sides of the field frequently. 

However, in the 79th minute, Houston recaptured the lead, after a save from **Zac MacMath** left the ball open inside the penalty box for Amine Bassi to put into the back of the net. Real Salt Lake was unable to find another equalizer, suffering the 2-1 loss in the first leg of the best-of-three series. Real Salt Lake must win at America First Field this upcoming Monday, November 6 in order to have a chance at advancing to the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Conference Semifinals. 

UP NEXT: Real Salt Lake returns home to America First Field for the second leg of Round One of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs against the Houston Dynamo on Monday, November 6 with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. MT. 


HOU: Hector Herrera (Adalberto Carrasquilla), 22nd minute: Carrasquilla’s header found Herrera at the top of the 18 before the Dynamo captain picked out the far post with a left-footed shot. 

RSL: Diego Luna (Anderson Julio, Andrés Gómez), 54th minute: Gómez pushed down the wing on a counter attack opportunity before dishing a pass to Julio, who struck a perfect ball onto an open Luna as the 20-year-old settled the ball and rifled a shot into the back of the net. 

HOU: Amine Bassi 79th minute: After MacMath made a save off a shot from Griffin Dorsey, the ball bounced free in the penalty box which Bassi was able to hit into the back of the net. 


  • RSL was missing three key players tonight, as FW Chicho Arango (hamstring) and DF Justen Glad (adductor) did not travel. DF Marcelo Silva (Uruguay) attended to family situations in his respective home country. 
  • 20-year-old midfielder Diego Luna recorded his sixth goal of the season, across all competitions. His score tonight marked the third-consecutive game in which Luna has scored. Additionally, his goal made him the youngest playoff goal scorer in Club history, surpassing Yura Movsisyan, who scored his first goal in the postseason at 21 years and 91 days old. 
  • Prior to losses against Houston in each of the last three games played across all competitions, RSL had gone 11 consecutive matches without a loss against the Dynamo.
  • DF Kevon Lambert, a Jamaican international acquired in August from Phoenix Rising (USL), saw his most extensive minutes played for the Claret-and-Cobalt tonight, his 36 minutes surpassing the four played against Houston on Aug. 26 and the 18 played at Colorado last week.


Real Salt Lake (3-5-2): Zac MacMath; Bode Hidalgo (Kevon Lambert 51’), Brayan Vera, Bryan Oviedo; Andrew Brody (Danny Musovski 85’), Emeka Eneli (Jasper Löffelsend 85’), Diego Luna, Braian Ojeda, Maikel Chang (Andrés Gómez 46’); Jefferson Savarino, Rubio Rubin (Anderson Julio 46’)

Subs not used: Gavin Beavers, Nelson Palacio, Scott Caldwell, Damir Kreilach

Houston Dynamo (4-3-3): Steve Clark; Franco Escobar, Griffin Dorsey, Erik Sviatchenko, Micael dos Santos; Artur, Hector Herrera, Adalberto Carrasquilla; Amine Bassi (Luis Caicedo 86’), Corey Baird (Ibrahim Aliyu 90+3’), Nelson Quinones (Brad Smith 86’)

Subs not used: Andrew Tarbell, Daniel Steres, Ivan Franco, Teenage Hadebe, Sebastian Kowalczyk, Thor Ulfarsson

Stats Summary: RSL / HOUShots: 7/23 
Shots on Goal: 2/5
Saves: 3/1
Corner Kicks: 1/9
Fouls: 11/11

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:RSL: Bryan Oviedo (caution) 44’
RSL: Anderson Julio (caution) 82’
HOU: Franco Escobar (caution) 90+5’
HOU: Adalberto Carrasquilla (caution) 90+7’