Sandy • The Houston Dynamo’s name unearths bad memories for Real Salt Lake.
The last time RSL faced the Dynamo, it lost 5-1 in a dark stretch of the season. So when Houston arrived at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, it carried that history with it.
“It’s going to be in the back of your mind a little bit,” defender Tony Beltran said in training this week, “but it’s a completely different game. We’ve got to learn from that, learn from our mistakes obviously in that one, and it was an embarrassment so of course we’ve got to take pride in our performance at home and want to crush those guys.”
After the match at Houston on May 31, RSL coach Mike Petke identified it as a low point of the season, and he struggled to pick out a positive in the game.
To say RSL was shorthanded in its trip to Houston would be an understatement. Justen Glad, Danny Acosta, Sebastian Saucedo and Brooks Lennon were all at the Under-20 FIFA World Cup, and Nick Rimando was called away for international duty with the U.S. National Team.
On top of that, Chad Barrett (knee surgery) and David Horst (knee) were sidelined by injury. Jordan Allen (right quad strain) and Demar Phillips (hamstring) were questionable for the match.
RSL’s back line was thin, and it showed. Real Salt Lake didn’t have any better luck the next week at Dallas either, when it dropped a 6-2 decision.
The 11 goals RSL conceded in those two matches tied for the second most in back-to-back games all-time in MLS.
In training ahead of Saturday’s match, Petke said they had put that disappointment behind them.
“I think that’s in the past,” he said. “We know exactly what we need to accomplish, the points that are up for grabs ahead of us, and I don’t think we’re dwelling too much on the past, you know?”
On Saturday, Real Salt Lake was almost at full strength. While six players were out with injuries, left back Phillips (hamstring) was the only regular starter sidelined.
“Any team that we lose to,” midfielder Kyle Beckerman said before the match, “no matter what the score is, we want to get back and try to even the series.”
Late scoring power
Traditionally, RSL has scored late in matches against Houston.
RSL entered Saturday’s match with 36 goals against the Dynamo all-time. It netted 10 of those between the 61st and 75th minutes and 22 in the second half.
On the mend
RSL goalkeeper Matt VanOekel returned to training this week after suffering a high ankle sprain a month ago.
He was not, however, available for Saturday’s match.
VanOekel has made six starts and seven appearances in goal for RSL this season. He logged 25 saves and one shutout.