Rested and Ready
The international break was kind to Real Salt Lake, as it got the team a needed break headed into a difficult stretch of five matches in 16 days starting with Saturday’s match against the Houston Dynamo in Texas. RSL has seven MLS matches left on the schedule and three additional matches in CONCACAF Champions League play. With two weeks since the last match, Head Coach Jeff Cassar had time to get his team rested and refocused ahead of the next busy stretch.
While RSL didn’t have any injuries to speak of, the break gave players the chance to recuperate from a busy month of August that saw seven matches in 30 days and prepare mentally and physically for the stretch run in the season.
Iron Men Take a Break
Nobody has played more minutes in MLS play for RSL this season than Tony Beltran (2,234 minutes) and Luke Mulholland (1,969 minutes). However, neither will be available on Saturday, as the resilient duo will serve one-match suspensions for yellow card accumulation after both picked up cautions in Dallas on August 29.
In their place, Cassar has options. In Beltran’s right back role, he has used Justen Glad and Boyd Okwuonu in the past this season, but also included Jordan Allen in the mix for potential starters. In the midfield, the options are aplenty in place of Mulholland, as John Stertzer, Luis Gil and Luis Silva all could see time in the midfield.
Hot Streak vs. Houston
Real Salt Lake has posted three straight victories over the Houston Dynamo, with RSL’s last defeat coming at BBVA Compass Stadium on September 6, 2012. That 1-0 loss was followed by victories of 1-0 and 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium and 5-2 last year in Houston.
While RSL’s all-time record against the Dynamo is just 6-9-5 and the club’s record in Houston is just 1-8-1, the last meeting there was that 5-2 victory, so times may have changed in this all-time series.
Morales Means Business
Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales has had Houston’s number throughout his career, but over the last two meetings he has been particularly scorching against the Dynamo. In 12 all-time appearances against Houston, Morales has a series-leading six goals and his six assists ranks behind only Houston midfielder Brad Davis, who has 10.
What’s more impressive is his performance in the last two matches against the Dynamo. Last year, he recorded the fastest goal in club history when he netted a goal just 15 seconds into the match at BBVA Compass Stadium on his way to three goals and one assist in that win. Add in his 1-goal, 1-assist total from the match in July at Rio Tinto Stadium and Morales has four goals and two assists in his last two matches against Houston.