Recap: RSL 5-2 Houston Dynamo

HOUSTON – Real Salt Lake (5-0-5, 20 points, West #2) extended its unbeaten start to the 2014 season in style on Sunday night, getting a hat trick from MF Javier Morales, goals from FW Alvaro Saborio and MF Luke Mulholland and a penalty kick save from GK Nick Rimando to top Houston Dynamo (4-5-2, 14 points, East #4) 5-2 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The win was RSL’s first ever at Houston, and moved the Claret-and-Cobalt into tie for first in MLS with 2.00 points per game through its first 10 matches.

Morales scored the fastest goal in RSL history to put the Claret-and-Cobalt up 1-0 just 15 seconds in. It was a wonderful goal for the Argentine playmaker, who collected a pass from Saborio on the right side before majestically chipping a 20-yard shot over Houston GK Tally Hall and inside the far post. The strike was the fourth quickest goal in MLS history.

RSL nearly made it 2-0 in the third minute. RSL pushed away a Houston attack and quickly launched a counter, with Morales finding Saborio on a breakaway to set the Costa Rican international up for a 1-v-1 with Hall. Unfortunately for RSL, Saborio couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, hitting his left-footed effort meekly at the onrushing Hall, who parried it away.

Houston had a decent look in the ninth minute, when DF Kofi Sarkodie clipped a cross from the right wing to FW Mark Sherrod at the back post. The rookie striker got on the ball eight yards out, but sent his header just wide of the left post.

Morales doubled RSL’s advantage in the 17th minute. FW Joao Plata curled a corner in from the right side, with MF Ned Grabavoy heading toward goal from the top of the box. Morales slipped free from Houston MF Andrew Driver just inside the six, redirecting Grabavoy’s header up and over Hall to make it 2-0.

Sherrod pulled one back for Houston in the 22nd minute. Set-piece specialist MF Brad Davis whipped a corner in from the left side, with Sherrod rising over the pack to flick a header home inside the far post from the top of the six-yard box.

Houston was dealt a big blow in the 27th minute, when Referee Allen Chapman showed Dynamo MF Servando Carrasco a straight red card for a heavy, two-footed challenge deep in RSL’s half on Morales.

RSL quickly capitalized on its man advantage, with Saborio restoring the Claret-and-Cobalt’s two-goal lead in the 32nd minute. RSL built up to the goal nicely, with MF Luke Mulholland collecting a DF Tony Beltran pass on the right wing and curling a gorgeous cross into the middle that Saborio ran onto at the near post and flicked home inside the far bar for his sixth goal of the season.

Rimando came up huge for the Claret-and-Cobalt in the 36th minute, saving Houston MF Giles Barnes’ penalty kick to keep RSL up 3-1. RSL DF Aaron Maund was whistled for the PK in the 35th minute, when Chapman called the third-year center back for a foul in the box on Houston DF David Horst during a Dynamo corner kick. As he’s so often done in his outstanding career, Rimando bailed RSL out, stopping the 21st PK of his career by correctly diving to his right and blocking Barnes’ shot.

RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar was forced to make a change at halftime, bringing DF Abdoulie Mansally on for DF Chris Wingert, who suffered an apparent head injury late in the first half.

Despite the man advantage, Real Salt Lake started the second half on the back foot, looking sluggish in the Houston heat and letting the Dynamo pull within one in the 56th minute. Sherrod again had the goal, collecting in the left side of the area following a sliding challenge from Barnes, cutting into the middle and slamming a low right-footer inside the near post from 12 yards out.

RSL had a chance against the run of play in the 62nd minute, with Grabavoy running onto a Plata through ball in the right side of the area and slamming a shot on frame that Hall parried away nicely with a diving save.

Houston had a pair of chances in the 66th and 72nd minutes. Sherrod had the first look, collecting a cross at the left post that leaked through the area before half-volleying over the top from six yards. MF Boniek Garcia had the second chance, hitting substitute FW Omar Cummings’ cross just wide of the right post from inside the penalty spot.

RSL finally found its footing after Garcia’s near miss, possessing the ball in spades and nearly adding a fourth goal in the 75th minute. Morales found Mulholland just outside the area on the right side with a fine diagonal ball, with the Englishman controlling and firing a shot that Hall smartly blocked at the near post.  

Mulholland got the best of Hall three minutes later, finishing from a very acute angle to ice the game for RSL. Morales assisted on the goal, collecting a nice ball from Beltran in Houston’s final third, turning and slipping Mulholland into the right side of the area. Mulholland rounded the onrushing Hall, advancing deep into the box before side-footing a shot from a tough angle past the near post and into the back of the net to put RSL up 4-2.  

RSL kept pressing after Mulholland’s goal, nearly scoring in the 81st and 83rd minutes before Morales eventually completed his hat trick in the 89th. Sandoval made the goal, earning a penalty kick when Hall dragged him down by the leg after Sandoval picked up a rebound just four yards from goal. Morales made no mistake with the spot kick, rolling it into the left side of the net to register his first hat trick for the Claret-and-Cobalt and just the fifth hat trick in club history.

Sunday’s match was likely the last time RSL will have Rimando (U.S.), Saborio (Costa Rica) and Captain Kyle Beckerman (U.S.) until after the World Cup, with all three players expected to join their respective national teams this week to prepare for the Brazil tournament. U.S. Soccer will announce its preliminary 30-man World Cup roster on Monday, with players reporting to the team’s training camp in Palo Alto, Calif. beginning on Wednesday.

Real Salt Lake will return home for its next match, hosting the rival Colorado Rapids at 7:30 p.m. MT on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in the first match of the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cup. Tickets to Saturday’s contest can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at or over the phone at 801-727-2700.

Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 5–2 HOU

  • Tonight’s win maintained Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten record, improving the Claret-and-Cobalt to 5-0-5 in 2014. RSL’s 10-game unbeaten run to start the season is a club record. The team’s 14-game regular season unbeaten streak dating back to last September is the second-longest in club history, trailing only the 18-game regular season unbeaten run compiled in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
  • Tonight’s win moved RSL into a tie for first place in MLS with Seattle Sounders FC with 2.00 points per game. Seattle leads RSL on total points 22-20, but the Sounders have played 11 games to RSL’s 10.
  • Tonight’s win moves RSL’s goal differential to a league best +9 on the season. RSL’s 21 goals this year are second in the league, trailing first-place Seattle – which has a game in hand on RSL – by one goal.
  • Tonight’s victory improved RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar’s unbeaten start to the season to 10 gamesCassar’s 10-game unbeaten run to start his MLS coaching career is the second-longest such streak in league history, trailing only Lothar Osiander, who started the 1996 season 12-0-0 as head coach of the LA Galaxy.
  • RSL’s victory on Sunday marked its first-ever win in Houston. The Claret-and-Cobalt now posts a 1-8-1 all-time record in the Bayou City and have improved to a 5-9-5 all-time record against the Dynamo.
  • RSL MF Javier Morales opened up his 2014 scoring campaign tonight with a bang, managing to record a hat trick and notch an assist. The Argentine scored 15 seconds into the match to record the fourth-fastest goal scored in MLS history and the quickest in club history. Morales went on to score in the 17th minute and converted a penalty kick in the 89th minute to complete the hat trick. Morales now has three goals and four assists in 2014.
  • Morales’s hat trick was just the fifth MLS hat trick and sixth hat trick across all competitions in RSL history. Morales joins FW Alvaro Saborio (three hat tricks; July 7, 2012 v. POR, Sept. 29, 2012 at CHV, July 27, 2013 at NY), FW Robbie Findley (one hat trick; April 2, 2009 v. CLB) and Jason Kreis (one hat trick; July 12, 2005 at Minnesota in U.S. Open Cup play) as the only players in RSL history to notch a hat trick.
  • Saborio scored the Claret-and-Cobalt’s third goal of the match in the 32nd minute, which gives him six goals on the season. The Costa Rican international now has 73 goals in 136 games across all competitions for RSL. Saborio also earned the assist on Morales’ first goal, his second helper of the 2014 season.
  • Morales and Saborio continued their career success against Houston tonight; Morales now has five goals and five assists in 11 career regular season matches against the Dynamo, while Saborio has four goals and two assists in six regular season games against the Texas club.
  • Tonight’s match marked just the third time in club history that Real Salt Lake has scored five or more goals in a regular season game. The two previous occasions were both against New England Revolution, with RSL topping the Boston area club 6-0 at home on April 25, 2009 and 5-0 at home on July 2, 2010
  • RSL scored five goals once in U.S. Open Cup play in 2013, defeating the Charleston Battery 5-2 after extra time at Rio Tinto Stadium in the tournament’s fourth round on June 12, 2013.
  • Tonight’s five goal output means that RSL has scored eight goals in consecutive regular season games following last week’s 3-2 win at Chicago Fire. RSL has scored eight goals in consecutive regular season games only one other time in club history, achieving the feat by beating Columbus Crew 4-0 on Aug. 24, 2013 and Portland Timbers 4-2 on Aug. 30, 2013. Both of those games were at home, while both games in RSL’s current run came on the road.
  • RSL MF Luke Mulholland helped the Claret-and-Cobalt regain a two-goal lead late in the match, notching his third goal of the season in the 78th minute. The Englishman also recorded an assist on Saborio’s goal, his second of the season.
  • RSL GK Nick Rimando’s penalty kick save on Houston FW Giles Barnes makes opposing players 41/62 against Rimando on penalty kicks. Rimando’s 33.8 percent save percentage on penalty kicks in the best rate in MLS history.
  • RSL FW Devon Sandoval made his fifth appearance for the Claret-and-Cobalt tonight, subbing on in the 60th minute. Sandoval went on to draw a penalty kick in the 89th minute which Morales converted for RSL’s fifth of the night.
  • RSL MF Cole Grossman made his third appearance for the Claret-and-Cobalt tonight, subbing on for FW Joao Plata in the 74th minute.
  • Tonight’s match was likely Real Salt Lake U.S. internationals, Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, and Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio’s last MLS match before they are expected to be called into their respective country’s World Cup preparation camps. U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann will name his 30-man preliminary roster on Monday and players will depart to training on Wednesday. Costa Rica is expected to announce its roster early this week as well.


SUNDAY, MAY 11, 2014


Goals by Period                   1          2          F
Real Salt Lake                       3          2          5                                                                                                         

Houston Dynamo                   1          1          2                                                                                                           
Scoring Summary:

RSL – Javier Morales (Alvaro Saborio) – 1’
RSL – Javier Morales (Ned Grabavoy, Joao Plata) – 17’
HOU – Mark Sherrod (Brad Davis) – 22’
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Luke Mulholland) – 32’
HOU – Mark Sherrod (Giles Barnes) – 56’
RSL – Luke Mulholland (Javier Morales) – 78’
RSL – Javier Morales – 89’

Misconduct Summary:

RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Yellow; Foul) – 26’
HOU – Servando Carrasco (Red; Serious Foul) – 27’
HOU – Boniek Garcia (Yellow; Foul) – 45’+4’
HOU – Mark Sherrod (Yellow; Foul) – 90’+2’


Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Aaron Maund, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Abdoulie Mansally, 46’); Kyle Beckerman (C), Luke Mulholland, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales; Alvaro Saborio (Devon Sandoval, 60’), Joao Plata (Cole Grossman, 74’)

Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella; Carlos Salcedo; Luis Gil; Olmes Garcia

Houston Dynamo (4-4-2): Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, A.J. Cochran (Omar Cummings, 71’), Corey Ashe; Servando Carrasco, Andrew Driver (Warren Creavalle, 35’), Brad Davis (Brian Ownby, 84’), Boniek Garcia; Mark Sherrod, Giles Barnes

Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric; Alexander Lopez, Anthony Arena

Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referees: Adam Garner, Claudio Badea
4th Official: Ismail Elfath

Attendance: 16,514
Weather: Clear and 80 degrees