The opening weekend of the Major League Soccer season is here. The Houston Dynamo will get the 2022 campaign underway Sunday evening at PNC Stadium against Real Salt Lake. To help us get some insight on Sunday’s opponent we spoke to Matt Montgomery of RSL Soapbox. Be sure to check out their site as well to see our answers to Matt’s questions about the Dynamo.
Dynamo Theory (DT): Like the Dynamo, Real Salt Lake are entering a new era with new ownership. What can you tell us about the new ownership group and their initial plans for the club?
RSL Soapbox (RSLS): With essentially a gap year behind us, in which Real Salt Lake was in the process of being sold but without the intervention of existing ownership, the David Blitzer-Ryan Smith ownership group looks to be willing to invest in designated players — and that’s a big change, and probably the most immediately noticeable shift in plans. Per reports, we’ve been in contact with Colombian midfielder Gustavo Cuellar, now at Al-Hilal, and Venezuelan winger Jefferson Savarino, who was an important player for RSL before joining Atletico Mineiro in Brazil. Those things, of course, take time, and it’s all reporting and speculation at this point. But the desire and willingness is there, and that’s probably the biggest initial plan. Beyond that, we’re slated to see some pretty immediate stadium upgrades, which obviously enough will not come into play on Sunday. (You wouldn’t want to be in Salt Lake on Sunday anyway — the high is something like a balmy 41 degrees. It’s actually warming up!)
DT: RSL made a surprise run to the Western Conference final under interim coach and former Dynamo assistant Pablo Mastroeni. Now with Mastroeni given the full time job what can we expect to see out of his teams on the field?
RSLS: The weird thing here is that I don’t actually know. Mastroeni has proven himself a little bit of a wild card, and while there’s a certain fun in that, it’s also unnerving. One week, he’ll deploy a defensively staunch four-man back line, and the next, he’ll run us out with three center backs, no full backs, and an intense attacking desire that leaves us either exposed or running up a goal tally. A full preseason will have been important for him, since his interim head coach stint came under truly bizarre circumstances. So I suppose to answer the question, you’ll either see good defending and few goals, or you’ll see bad defending and many goals, with rarely anything between.
DT: Former captain Albert Rusnak left the club but RSL has brought in some new blood to hopefully take his place. Who are some of the players Dynamo fans should be on the lookout for on Sunday?
While I think Rusnak will more appropriately be replaced in the coming weeks and months, you’re likely now to see Damir Kreilach in his attacking midfield role, and we know it’s a position he can play. But if I said “be on the lookout for Kreilach” and left it at that, I’m probably not saying anything that’s not already obvious around the league. New signing Sergio Cordova could get a start, but he’s as much an unknown for us as he is for you. If we’re being totally honest here, I’m actually a little worried about our attack (or a lot worried, really,) and I don’t think we’re properly set for the coming season.
We want to thank Matt and RSL Soapbox for giving us some information about Real Salt Lake. Best of luck this weekend!