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Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo Preview: Dynamo Seeking Strength at Home

On this bumpy road, the Dynamo find themselves back home facing a strong opponent once again.

Leonel Miranda scored the lone goal for the Dynamo in the first matchup with Real Salt Lake City.
Leonel Miranda scored the lone goal for the Dynamo in the first matchup with Real Salt Lake City.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The first rematch of this season is upon us. Since RSL came from behind in Salt Lake City to knock off the Dynamo they’ve played only one opponent; a 1-0 loss to league leaders the Colorado Rapids. Though the loss sent them down the ranks of the western conference RSL is one of the many teams challenging to be the best in MLS. The Dynamo, on the other hand, are trying to prove they aren’t among the worst.

During the last meeting RSL scored twice following a Leonel Miranda goal in the 54’. Jordan Allen and Yura Movsisyan, scorers of the goals in the first match, return along with a talented RSL roster. Leading scorer Joao Plata hasn’t seen much action in the last month, only coming on in the 58th minute last week after missing two straight due to injury. Also missing time are Aaron Maund, starting center back and key defensive cog, and sometimes starter at left back Demar Phillips. Maund's absence could be cause for concern on the RSL backline, but Allen, Justin Glad and Kyle Beckerman have been solid along the defense as usual.

So many questions remain unanswered for the Dynamo. This season has been a tale of two teams and it’s anyone's guess as to which will show this Saturday. With playoff hopes diminishing this team needs to focus on other goals and hope that steady improvement will keep them in the mix near the end of the season. During the win over SKC last weekend the whole team looked invigorated. Starting up top Cubo Torres was very active and looked great while also tallying an assist to Giles Barnes on the first goal of the night. Barnes, having moved back to the midfield, showed more energy and pace than he has in recent weeks. Wenger, Maidana, Alex and Clark all showed significantly more effort and it clearly paid off as the club had seven SOG with the two goals. The defense similarly showed much improvement, earning the second clean sheet of the season, with Tyler Deric back in goal and the pairing of Horst and Agus in the middle. But in San Jose…..barely a sight of that vigor, determination and teamwork. Deric earned a needless red and will miss the RSL matchup, defensive miscues once again plagued the team, and the midfield could scarcely mount an attack. Will Bruin started again but was not able to accomplish much, unlike his efforts as a sub for Torres in the SKC game.

For all the issues the team is facing there are some bright spots. The defense has shown improvement. It will be a tough outing this week without Deric, however. More tinkering with the lineup by Owen Coyle could manifest, and it certainly would be a plus to have Damarcus Beasley back on the left flank. The last report listed him as questionable earlier this week and his availability is still uncertain.  The offense now seems to be focused around the counter and we actually are somewhat good at it. The service is a bit spotty but Maidana, Wenger and Miranda have shown good vision to get the ball quickly upfield and when (if?) the rest of the offensive players show up in the opponents box they are able to create good chances. The team has been much stronger at home outside of the loss to LA. A win will again prove difficult to come by this Saturday but the homefield advantage needs to be established.