SANDY, Utah – To say Real Salt Lake have struggled getting results in Houston is an understatement. To say they have struggled mightily is still mincing words. In fact, about the only way to get near the reality is to say RSL have been flat-out awful in getting points against the Dynamo in the Lone Star State.
Real are 0-7-1 all-time in Houston, with the lone draw coming in June of 2009. They haven’t been repeatedly destroyed – all seven losses have come by a single goal – but they’ve kept coming up short.
"We've been in a lot of good positions down there, played really well and then made some critical errors," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. "We just need to get a little bit better with how we perform down there and then we could be looking at a positive result."
One thing Real will not miss is Robertson Stadium, where they faced the Dynamo the previous eight games in Houston before their new soccer-specific BBVA Compass Stadium opened on May 12. While the actual venue may have changed for Thursday’s showdown (8:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online), one thing that hasn't is the typical weather RSL have faced in Houston. The gameday forecast calls for 98 degrees with 63 percent humidity.
"I think it is the biggest factor because it is really miserably warm there," said Kreis, who spent the bulk of his playing career in Texas with Dallas. "We were hoping for a September game, which could be cool in Texas, but it doesn't look like it is shaping up that way for us this year. That just causes some fatigue and a lack of focus."
Another factor going against the Claret-and-Cobalt will be a thin squad. Álvaro Saborío (Costa Rica), Will Johnson (Canada) and Kyle Beckerman (United States) are all away with their respective national teams, and Chris Wingert is suspended for yellow-card accumulation. But RSL are not the only team dealing with absences. Houston will be without Boniek García (Honduras), Andre Hainault (Canada), Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica) and Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica) for the game as well.
"I think we're a little bit unsure because I think they're missing four players, so not sure about one position, who might come in that position, whether they might change their shape a little bit," said Kreis of how that could change the approach. "It does leave some question marks for us about how to prepare for them, but perhaps that means again, whenever we have that issue, we tend to become a little bit more focused on ourselves, and that usually ends up doing good things for us."