GAME 1: REAL SALT LAKE at HOUSTON DYNAMO (MARCH 2, 2019)
Starting XI: Nick Rimando; Brooks Lennon, Marcelo Silva, Nedum Onuoha, Aaron Herrera; Kyle Beckerman, Everton Luiz; Jefferson Savarino, Albert Rusnák, Corey Baird; Damir Kreilach.
Bench: Andrew Putna, Nick Besler, Tony Beltran, Justin Portillo, Sebastian Saucedo, Joao Plata, Sam Johnson.
- DF Justen Glad was ruled out for the opener after breaking his toe in training on Thursday. More information will be available after he is evaluated early next week.
- Real Salt Lake won both matches last year against the Houston Dynamo – 2-1 in a midweek home game on May 30 and 2-1 on the road on August 18. Both wins were part of three-game winning streaks for RSL. On Decision Day, it was Houston’s 3-2 win over the LA Galaxy that secured RSL’s playoff berth.
Starting XI Notes: (2018 stats and career stats)
GK Nick Rimando (USA/22 caps/39 years old/33 games, 33 starts (484, 484)/13-13-7 (209-163-113), 1.71 GAA/D.C. United) – Entering his 20th MLS season and 13th with Real Salt Lake, announcing on Friday that it would be his final season. MLS record holder in wins (209), saves (1,630), shutouts (144) and games played (485). Also won MLS Cup in 2004 (D.C. United) and 2009 (Real Salt Lake)
RB Brooks Lennon (USA/0 caps/21 years old/33 games, 32 starts (58, 47)/0 goals, 5 assists (3, 9)/Liverpool (England)/HGP) – Tied for second on RSL in 2018 with 46 tackles and tied for third with 43 interceptions. His five assists ranked third in MLS among players who primarily play as defenders, trailing only Ashley Cole and Graham Zusi. Best XI and second-leading goal-scorer with four goals and one assist in six matches at 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championships. Two goals and two assists in five matches at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Helped lead the RSL Academy to the 2013 USSDA U-15 Championship. Has one assist in three career matches against Houston.
CB Marcelo Silva (29 years old/18 games, 18 starts (27, 27)/0 goals, 0 assists (0, 0)/Zaragoza (Spain)) –RSL is 11-6-6 with a 1.22 GAA when he plays 90 minutes since his debut on July 22, 2017 and 9-10-5 with a 1.83 GAA when he does not start or play 90 minutes. Tied for third on RSL in 2018 with 43 interceptions.
CB Nedum Onuohu (32 years old/2 games, 1 start (2, 1)/0 goals, 0 assists (0, 0)/Queens Park Rangers (England)) – Played the previous 14 seasons in the Premier League and Championship in England with Manchester City, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers, where he was captain during his final seasons in England.
LB Aaron Herrera (21 years old/16 games, 14 starts (16, 14)/0 goals, 0 assists (0, 0)/University of New Mexico) – Made 14 consecutive starts at left back to close out the 2018 season with RSL going 5-4-5 in those 14 starts. Made his MLS debut on the road against Seattle Sounders FC in May. Waited until July 7 in a 2-0 win over FC Dallas for his second appearance. Started three matches at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
CM Kyle Beckerman (USA/58 caps/36 years old/31 games, 29 starts (463, 432)/1 goal, 1 assist (41, 50)/Colorado Rapids) – Entering his 20th MLS season and 13th with Real Salt Lake. Ranked second on RSL with 48 interceptions in 2018. Has three goals and two assists in 27 matches against Houston in his career.
CM Everton Luiz (30 years old/0 games, 0 starts (0, 0)/0 goals, 0 assists (0, 0)/SPAL (Italy)) – Came to RSL on loan from SPAL in Italy after playing 11 professional seasons in Brazil, Mexico, Switzerland, Serbia and Italy.
RW Jefferson Savarino (Venezuela/7 caps/22 years old/32 games, 32 starts (54, 51)/7 goals, 11 assists (13, 16)/Zulia (Venezuela)/DP) – Ranked third in MLS and first on RSL with 78 dribbles completed. Also RSL’s most-fouled player, winning 70 fouls this season (ranking tenth in MLS). Ranked third on RSL with 49 chances created.
CAM Albert Rusnák (Slovakia/17 caps, 4 goals/24 years old/31 games, 29 starts (61, 58)/10 goals, 7 assists (17, 21)/FC Groningen (Holland)/DP) – Scored two goals in stoppage time to become the first player in MLS history to score an equalizer and a game-winner in stoppage time of the same match as RSL topped Houston 2-1 at BBVA Compass Stadium on August 18, 2018. Led RSL and ranked ninth in MLS with 76 chances created in 2018. Scored all four of his international goals in 2018 with Slovakia.
LW Corey Baird (USA/2 caps, 0 goals/23 years old/31 games, 21 starts (31, 21)/8 goals, 5 assists (8, 5)/Stanford/HGP) – Started and played 59 minutes in RSL’s 3-2 win over LAFC in the Knockout Round. Led all MLS rookies in scoring with eight goals, including goals in two of his final three starts, earning 2018 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year honors. Picked up an assist in his first cap with the U.S. National Team in a friendly against Panama. Earned two appearances for the U.S. after January camp.
FW Damir Kreilach (29 years old/33 games, 31 starts (33, 31)/12 goals, 8 assists (12, 8)/Union Berlin (Germany)/TAM) – Scored two goals and set up the third in a 3-2 win over LAFC in the Knockout Round. Assisted on Albert Rusnák’s goal in a 1-1 draw in the first leg against SKC. Ranks second on the team in fouls won with 47 and fifth in tackles with 43. Was captain at both of his previous clubs – Union Berlin in Germany and Rijeka in Croatia. Led RSL in goals and was voted club MVP in 2018. Had one assist in two matches against Houston last season.
GK Andrew Putna (24 years old/2 games, 1 start (2, 1)/1-0-0 (1-0-0), 0.67 GAA/Real Monarchs) – Signed with RSL in July. Made his first MLS start in a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo in August. Made his MLS debut off the bench earlier in the same week against LAFC, coming on at halftime in place of the injured Nick Rimando. Allowed three goals in two matches with Real Monarchs SLC last season, giving him six appearances in two seasons with the USL club. Earned two clean sheets with the Monarchs in 2017.
DF Tony Beltran (USA/3 caps/31 years old/0 games, 0 starts (245, 230)/0 goals, 0 assists (1, 12)/UCLA) – Entering his 12th MLS season, all with Real Salt Lake. One of seven players in MLS history to play for only one MLS team and start 230 career matches. CJ Brown (290, Chicago Fire), Cobi Jones (281, LA Galaxy), Osvaldo Alonso (266, Seattle Sounders FC), Logan Pause (253, Chicago Fire), Matt Besler (251, Sporting Kansas City) and Diego Chara (230, Portland Timbers). Missed the entire 2018 regular season after undergoing knee surgery in the off-season. Suffered a torn ACL on October 17, 2017 against the Colorado Rapids.
DF/MF Nick Besler (25 years old/22 games, 15 starts (22, 15)/1 goal, 0 assists (1, 0)/Real Monarchs) – Of his 15 starts in 2018, 13 came as a center back and two in the midfield. RSL won both of his starts in midfield – at Houston on August 18 and at home against New England on October 18. He scored his first MLS goal against New England on October 18. Won the 2013 College Cup with Notre Dame. Now in his third season with RSL after signing in midseason in 2017. Originally signed with Real Monarchs in 2017 and captained the USL side to the 2017 USL regular season championship.
MF Justin Portillo (26 years old/0 games, 0 starts (0, 0)/0 goals, 0 assists (0, 0)/Real Monarchs SLC – Voted Monarchs Team MVP in 2018, Portillo appeared in 32 matches and made 30 starts. Playing 2,697 minutes, he scored twice and assisted six times. Earned USL All-League Second team honors for his performance during the 2017 regular season that saw him feature in 33 matches for the Battery, all of which were starts. The 26-year-old notched four goals and six assists in 2970 minutes, tying with teammate Taylor Mueller for the most minutes played for the Battery in 2017.
FW Sebastian Saucedo (22 years old/28 games, 10 starts (57, 16)/3 goals, 5 assists (3, 7)/Real Salt Lake Academy) – Entering his fifth season with Real Salt Lake after signing out of the RSL Academy. Had two goals in four appearances in the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championships and one assist in three appearances at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Helped lead the RSL Academy to the 2013 USSDA U-15 Championship. Three of his seven career assists have come against Houston.
FW Joao Plata (Ecuador/5 caps, 2 goals/26 years old/25 games, 20 starts (194, 163)/8 goals, 8 assists (48, 48)/Toronto FC) – Entering his seventh season with Real Salt Lake and ninth in MLS after originally being drafted by Toronto FC in 2011 and coming to RSL in a trade in 2013. Leads current RSL players with three goals and three assists in 12 career matches against Houston.
FW Sam Johnson (Liberia/11 caps, 2 goals/25 years old/0 games, 0 starts (0, 0)/0 goals, 0 assists (0, 0)/Valerenga (Norway)) – Came to RSL in 2019 after leading Valerenga in scoring in 2018 with 11 goals in 21 matches. Previously played in Sweden and China.