Preview: West contenders RSL, Houston ready to battle
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs REAL SALT LAKE
BBVA COMPASS STADIUM, Houston, Texas
September 6, 2012 (WEEK 27, MLS Game #259)
8:30 p.m. ET (FS-H+/MultiM; KUCW-30)
Real Salt Lake will be looking to break their Texas hoodoo when they travel to BBVA Compass Stadium to face the Houston Dynamo in an interconference clash of playoff aspirants. Real have never won in 20 all-time visits to the Lone Star State, including a draw at FC Dallas earlier this season. The teams come into the match holding postseason berths for the moment: the Dynamo sit in a tie for fourth in the Eastern Conference after their loss last weekend at Chicago, while RSL sit in second place in the West after their 1-0 home win vs. D.C. United last week.
REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. AR1 (bench): Peter Manikowski; AR2 (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Jasen Anno
MLS Career: 5 games; FC/gm: 22.6; Y/gm: 2.2; R: 4; pens: 3
- HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: DF Warren Creavalle (L ankle sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Adam Moffat (R adductor strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Calen Carr (L knee swelling)
- REAL SALT LAKE -- OUT: GK Lalo Fernandez (R wrist fracture); DOUBTFUL: DF Jamison Olave (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Kenny Mansally (L knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE: DF Chris Schuler (L foot bone bruise)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: HOU: Boniek Garcia (Honduras); Andre Hainault (Canada); Jermaine Taylor, Je-Vaughn Watson (both Jamaica) ... RSL: Kyle Beckerman (USA); Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica); Will Johnson (Canada)
SUSPENDED: RSL: Chris Wingert (caution accumulation; through Sept. 6)
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: HOU: Calen Carr ... RSL: Fabian Espindola, Javier Morales, Jamison Olave, Alvaro Saborio
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: HOU: Corey Ashe, Bobby Boswell, Macoumba Kandji ... RSL: Will Johnson, Kwame Watson-Siriboe
ALL-TIME (16 meetings): Dynamo 8 wins, 25 goals ... Real 3 wins, 22 goals ... Ties 5
AT HOUSTON (8 meetings): Dynamo 7 wins, 21 goals ... Real 0 wins, 14 goals ... Ties 1
LAST YEAR (MLS)
5/14: RSL 0, HOU 0
8/20: HOU 3, RSL 2 (Ching 47; Boswell 69; Dixon 90 -- Espindola 28; Gil 60)
- The Dynamo have never lost to RSL at home. They've won seven of eight meetings there, with one draw -- that lone result for RSL coming June 20, 2009.
- While Real have yet to ever win at Robertson Stadium, the Dynamo have left Utah with the full three points just once -- a 1-0 win in 2007 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
- Real still have yet to ever win in the state of Texas. All-time combined vs. Houston and Dallas, over all competitions, Real are 0-17-3 in the Lone Star State.
- Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. RSL: P20 W10 L3 D7 ... Jason Kreis v HOU: P12 W2 L6 D4
The Houston Dynamo saw their winless run extended to four games, going down to a 3-1 defeat by the Chicago Fire on Sunday evening at Toyota Park. The Dynamo are in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points from 27 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 3, HOU 1
- The Fire took the lead before the first minute was out. Patrick Nyarko intercepted Andre Hainault's pass across the middle in his own half, then raced 40 yards in alone on goal before poking his shot past 'keeper Tally Hall.
- The Fire capitalized on another midfield takeaway in the 19th minute. Alvaro Fernandez took possession and found Sherjill MacDonald at the edge of the box. His attempted shot deflected off a defender and right into the path of Daniel Paladini, who slotted his shot home from inside the area.
- The Dynamo pulled a goal back in the 90th minute. Brad Davis found Brian Ching on a corner kick, and the veteran sent a header that deflected off a Fire defender and through the reach of goalkeeper Will Johnson.
- But the home side put the game out of reach in stoppage time when Fire playmaker Alex hammered a blast from distance that ricocheted in off the inside of the right post.
- Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC at BBVA Compass Stadium. Je-Vaughn Watson came into the team for Calen Carr.
- HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-3): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault (Kofi Sarkodie 46), Jermaine Taylor (Brian Ching 63), Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis - Je-Vaughn Watson, Will Bruin, Macoumba Kandji (Calen Carr 81).
New Dynamo signing Giles Barnes sounds off
- After a five-game winning streak from July 15-Aug. 3, the Dynamo have gone four games without a victory, with two losses and two draws.
- After the 2-0 win against New York on Aug. 3 at BBVA Compass Stadium -- the last of the five consecutive wins -- the Dynamo sat atop the Eastern Conference. They are now tied for the final playoff spot with the Columbus Crew, just a point ahead of sixth-place D.C. United.
- "The way the last couple of games have gone, it's almost like it's become playoff time in the sense that our descent from the top of the Eastern Conference [has been fast]," said goalkeeper Tally Hall. "We're still in a playoff spot but we have to start winning games, we have to treat games like the end of the season, like we did last year. That's where we found success."
- Said Brad Davis: "If it ended today, we'd be in, but seven games is a lot of games and we have to continue to get points. We have a little patch here where we've been giving away some points. We aren't happy about it at all. ... It's a big game and we better come out with some fight and some spirit and win that game."
- They've allowed eight goals in the four-game winless streak, which followed three consecutive defensive shutouts.
- "Obviously, we can pass a little smarter. I see the game the best; especially from early on in those situations and I know the ball needs to get out of pressure. ... As a goalkeeper, it always goes by you last. It's the responsibility of the goalkeeper to prevent a goal and in those situations I think that it starts with that pass getting out of pressure, and I think we can do a better job playing smarter soccer," said Hall.
- Brian Ching's goal, his fifth of the season, was the Dynamo's eighth this year from a corner kick, tied with San Jose for most in MLS. Houston has scored 11 set-piece goals, second to San Jose's 15 in the league.
- "We got another corner kick [after Ching's goal] and I thought we looked dangerous on some of the set pieces late in the second half," said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. "Obviously throwing guys forward, you'll be susceptible to the break. Brian came in and made a difference for us, held the ball up."
- Davis picked up his 11th assist of the season, pulling into a tie for fourth place in the MLS assist standings. Davis has now recorded double-digits in assists for each of the last four seasons, recording a career-high 16 last season when he led Major League Soccer.
- After seven consecutive starts in a wide forward position, Calen Carr came off the substitutes' bench in the Chicago match, playing the final nine minutes.
- "We have to be more dangerous in the final third and have that killer instinct, and I don't think we had that [vs. Chicago]. It's things we have to learn from," said Will Bruin. "We need to go back to square one and get back the mindset we had when we were winning games."
- Je-Vaughn Watson made his first start since June 23, playing wide on the right of the Dynamo's three-pronged attack. He will miss the RSL match while on international duty.
- Ricardo Clark made his second consecutive start and played the full 90 minutes for the first time since his return to MLS.
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake put an end to their four-game winless run, getting the game's only goal in a victory against D.C. United on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real sit in second place in the Western Conference with 46 points from 28 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 1, DC 0
- Before the game was four minutes old, the match was suspended for 1 hour, 24 minutes due to lightning strikes nearby.
- The game's lone goal came three minutes after the second-half restart. Ned Grabavoy played a nifty backheel to Paulo Junior on the left side of the area. His cross took a deflection and looped into the air in front of goal, where it was met by an on-rushing Will Johnson just ahead of United 'keeper Bill Hamid.
- RSL head coach Jason Kreis made one change to the team that played to a scoreless draw with Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Paulo Junior came into the side in place of Luis Gil.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - Javier Morales - Paulo Junior (Fabian Espindola 63), Alvaro Saborio (Yordany Alvarez 89).
RSL Insider: HOU vs. RSL Preview
- Real Salt Lake's victory was their first in more than a month, since a 2-1 home win vs. Vancouver on July 27.
- "Winning games and getting shutouts is the important thing and it's a good thing to be doing that getting towards the end of the season because that's what's going to win championships -- not giving up goals and winning small margin games," said midfielder Kyle Beckerman. "Yeah, it feels good but we still have some stuff we can work on and we can still get better."
- Will Johnson scored his third goal of the season, his single-season high in his six MLS seasons. All three goals have come since mid-June.
- "In the first half I thought he played a little bit deep. He has a tendency to sometimes do that. I like him to play a little higher," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. "I think when he does [play deep] it can cause us some troubles with winning the ball. In the second half, he was more aggressive with his positioning and that put him in a better position to attack. Obviously, I'm extremely pleased when somebody that works that hard scores the game winner ó he deserved it."
- Real have kept clean sheets in back-to-back games for the fourth time this season. They have not gone three consecutive games with a defensive shutout yet this year.
- "I think there were some critical errors back there that we covered ourselves pretty well with, but in the first half in particular we nearly gave them a goal," said Kreis. "[Nick] Rimando's performance was outstanding again tonight; obviously he made some critical saves for us in the second half."
- Said center back Nat Borchers: "I actually thought we could've done a lot better. I felt like D.C. was able to find De Rosario and enjoy a little too much. I don't think we were good enough communicating with the midfield in the back. So actually, I feel like we could've done a lot better than we did for sure."
- Paulo Junior started his second game in the last three in attack, partnering Alvaro Saborio as Kreis returned to his usual twin-striker tactical setup. After not featuring in the Philadelphia match, Fabian Espindola came off the bench for the final half-hour, in place of Paulo Junior.
- "When I think about someone like Nick and some of the other guys tonight, I think Sabo's performance was outstanding even though he didn't score,"said Kreis. "But you get into this time of the year and you need your big players to step up, and we got some big performances from some big players tonight."
- The trip to Houston starts a run of four out of the next five games away from Rio Tinto Stadium for RSL. After the visit by Portland on Sept. 22, Real have three consecutive road games -- back-to-back trips to The Home Depot Center to face Chivas and the LA Galaxy, then a trip to Seattle. RSL are winless in five consecutive away matches.
- "I told the guys that yesterday, I mean we have [two] home games remaining, there just can't be anything less than the three points in those games to get ourselves the best possible chance or not to make it into the last two playoff spots and to have a chance to succeed in the playoffs," said Kreis.