The Houston Dynamo are back on the road following their 2-2 draw to the Portland Timbers and while being on the road might not be the most exciting thing for Dynamo fans to see, it is encouraging following their recent road trip. The Dynamo were able to capture four points out of a possible six with their draw to Minnesota United FC and their win over D. C. United. The last time these clubs met the Dynamo were able to best the visiting RSL squad to the tune of 5-1 which, when paired with their recent road successes, should give the squad some confidence coming into this match.
In our preview of the match we discussed some of the lineup choices facing Wilmer Cabrera along with Real Salt Lake’s form, but we wanted an inside perspective on our opponent so we spoke with Matt Montgomery at RSL Soapbox to discuss what’s going on with his team.
Dynamo Theory: Since we last spoke Real Salt Lake has gone from 10th place to 8th and is unbeaten in its last four outings. What’s changed to spur the turnaround and do you think RSL can get into a playoff position by the end of the year?
RSL Soapbox: It's simple, really. The team started listening to RSL coach Mike Petke. At least, if you ask Petke, that's a big part of it. He has refused to take too much credit for this, of course, talking more about the players and less about the things he implemented. And maybe he's right, but certainly, it helps to have strong leadership in the team. Will that lead to playoffs? You know, I really hope so — it's certainly feasible, if unrealistic. The logical part of me is scared of even suggesting we can make it, but the passion-driven part of me is on the opposite side.
DT: Defensively, RSL have given up the 2nd most goals in the league and while they’ve been good enough on offense and have tightened things up recently in the back, they’re last shutout came at the end of June to the only team that has given up more goals than RSL – Minnesota United FC. Is the defense turning around and how will they step up against a potent Houston offense?
RSL Soapbox: I blame you and FC Dallas for that number, I hope you know. Things have tightened up, but they haven't tightened up enough. We're not shipping five or six goals a game, but you're right — it's been a while since we managed a shutout. That's frustrating stuff to have to watch, because it has cost us points repeatedly. We'd be firmly in a playoff position if we could have sorted that out.
We only just brought in newcomer Marcelo Silva, who I think, can make a big difference, but he's not going to be the single differentiator. We'll need to continue to refine our approach and ensure that we are looking for opportunities to refine our tactical approach, and we'll need to ensure we get the best out of our midfield, where we've sometimes struggled to control games.
DT: Last time we spoke a little about new Head Coach Mike Petke so if you could, briefly, evaluate how he’s done since taking the job.
RSL Soapbox: You know, I think he's done really well. Has it been perfect? Hardly. Yura Movsisyan is basically on the outside looking in now, and that seems like it's about more than just minutes played and goals scored. But when we last met, I was convinced that Joao Plata wasn't long for this team, and he'd be better off playing in Liga MX, where he had potential suitors. Petke has turned that relationship around, and Plata is again a productive, effective member of the team. He's involved defensively and offensively.
Is that everything? Of course not. We need to see what Petke can do with a preseason next year, and we need to see if he can pull us into the playoffs this year. But the early signs are extremely positive.
Projected Lineup: Rimando; Beltran, Glad, M. Silva, Acosta; Beckerman, Mulholland; Savarino, Rusnak, Plata; L. Silva
For my answers to Matt’s excellent questions check them out at RSL Soapbox!