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Making a statement? RSL takes aim at nemesis Dynamo
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It has happened only twice, and the last time was nearly three years ago.

So it goes without saying how big it would be for Real Salt Lake to finally beat the Houston Dynamo again tonight, in the nationally televised conclusion of its three-game homestand at Rio Tinto Stadium featuring two players who could wind up representing the United States at the World Cup next month in South Africa.

"It's another opportunity for us to say something to the rest of the league -- and to ourselves, most importantly," coach Jason Kreis said.

Already, RSL is feeling better about itself than it was a couple of weeks ago, after back-to-back home victories over Toronto and Philadelphia.

But those are two of the worst road teams in Major League Soccer, whereas the Dynamo are a legitimate league power who have not lost to RSL in eight meetings since Aug. 4, 2007.

A victory would serve notice that the defending MLS Cup champions are still dangerous, and not as meek as their disappointing early season results might have made it appear.

"It's a special game for us," RSL's Javier Morales said.

The Dynamo also could have star forward Brian Ching back in the lineup for the first time since he hurt his hamstring in the last meeting with RSL last month. Both Ching and RSL's Robbie Findley were named to the preliminary U.S. roster for the World Cup, and will be competing to make the final cut starting this weekend at a training camp in Princeton, N.J.

"We have some momentum here with a couple of wins," RSL's Chris Wingert said, "and we want to keep it going."

Wingert praised the Dynamo as a good team that is "always up for the fight," which is probably an apt way of putting it.

Eight players have been ejected with red cards in the last six meetings, and RSL lost the last one 2-1 in Houston on two questionable penalty kicks awarded to the Dynamo within minutes of each other.

"We have a nice little rivalry for whatever reason now," Kreis said. "They're always physical affairs, they're always great games. It seems to be always something crazy happening. I would prefer that it's a great game and that it's physical and nothing crazy happens."

The coach disputed the idea that the Dynamo's eight-game unbeaten streak suggests they cause match-up problems for RSL -- which itself is riding a 13-game home unbeaten streak.

"I wouldn't say so, really," he said. "I think we've always played well, and I think that within those eight games, I would tell you that I honestly think that we've been the better team a good share of those matches. But as I said, there's always something happening crazy involving a player getting ejected or penalty kicks or something. So I would just prefer a regular match."

He wouldn't mind seeing Findley open his account, either, in his final game before departing for national-team camp.

The speedy forward has not yet scored this season after leading the team with 12 goals, and left last week's victory over Philadelphia with a bruised back. But he has trained since then, and could return to the starting lineup while teammate Fabian Espindola continues to recover from a sprained ankle.

"Our focus right now is just on the game and trying to get all three points," Wingert said.

mcl@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">mcl@sltrib.com

RSL takes aim at nemesis Dynamo

Houston at Real Salt Lake

At Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy

Kickoff » 7 p.m.

TV » ESPN2

Radio » 700 AM, 1600 AM, 106.1 FM

Records » RSL 3-3-1; Houston 4-3-1

All-time series » Dynamo lead, 7-2-4

Last meeting » Houston 2, RSL 1 (April 1)

About RSL » Riding a 13-game home unbeaten streak, they're aiming for their first win over the Dynamo since 2007. ... Half of the eight goals they have allowed have come from the penalty spot, including both in a 2-1 loss at Houston last month.

About the Dynamo » Coming off their first road win of the season at Chivas USA last weekend, they have not lost to RSL in eight meetings since 2007. ... Midfielder Brad Davis leads the team with three goals, two of which he scored against RSL.

Houston at RSL

At Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy

Kickoff » 7 p.m.

TV » ESPN2

Radio » 700 AM, 1600 AM, 106.1 FM

MLS » Team hopes to cap homestand with its third straight win.
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