The Houston Dynamo are in last place in the league and their host, Real Salt Lake, is unbeaten at home. Things aren’t looking good for the Dynamo, but the two have split their games with the home side winning in the first two meetings by just a goal. The Dynamo have struggled in their offense, but were able to find the back of the net 3 times in their last match at Sporting Kansas City. However, it was their early defensive tactics to sit in early in the game that allowed SKC to take a 2-0 lead which forced the Dynamo into taking risks up the field. The Dynamo will need to have learned some hard lessons against SKC if they hope to best RSL.
In our preview of the match we discussed last week’s fixtures, but we wanted to know more about our opponent so we spoke with Randal Serr of RSL Soapbox to know a bit more about his club (and how Craig Waibel is doing).
Dynamo Theory: Javier Morales has been the maestro for RSL for some time now, but it looks like he may miss this match with a right quad injury. Is Morales likely to return after suffering the injury against Portland? If he isn’t, who will step in and help RSL without the central playmaker?
RSL Soapbox: Morales is not likely to play against Houston. Even if his injury isn't serious, Jeff Cassar seems to error on the side of caution in order to have the healthiest roster available for the MLS Playoffs. My best guess as to who will fill in for him would be either Luke Mulholland or Jordan Allen. If I had a gun to my head, I'd guess Luke Mulholland. When Morales has been out for one reason or another this season, Mulholland has typically been the one to replace him and take the drivers' seat. That said, Allen has done it a couple times as well. Before the start of the season, the RSL front office stated that Allen is the heir apparent for Morales, so it would make sense for him to get more opportunities in the position, but it's a bit hard to guess.
Dynamo Theory: Craig Waibel is an old Dynamo favorite going back to our infancy in MLS. What has his impact been as General Manager of Real Salt Lake since obtaining the position last season and how has he been received by fans?
RSL Soapbox: Generally, he has been very well received, especially by the most loyal fans. He has brought in players that have rescued this team from their dismal 2015 season. Namely: Burrito Martinez, Sunny Obayan, and Yura Movsisyan. All three of them have pretty impressive resumes in soccer and the fact that he was able to bring them to a relatively small market to play is impressive. He is methodical and does not make knee-jerk decisions. He clearly has a long-term plan that he is going to execute correctly or not at all. So far, he has put RSL back on a competitive path. For me personally, I love his additions and can't wait to see what else he has up his sleeve.
Dynamo Theory: The Dynamo and RSL have split their 3 game series so far with each side winning at home, but the winning team only won their game by a single goal. How can the Dynamo hope to take 3 points at Rio Tinto – a place that RSL has yet to lose at in 2016?
RSL Soapbox: That is a difficult question to answer. I would say score early, but every time that has happened to RSL at home they have been able to come back and either tie or win. You can only come back like that so many times though. So my suggestion would be to take advantage of RSL's slow starts to games and score two goals as early as possible. Another suggestion would be to get Olave flustered. He has a temper that can easily be flared so if you can get him out of the game somehow perhaps?
For my answers to Randal’s questions, please visit RSL Soapbox!