Real Disappoints Against Dynamo


Jack Gambassi

Real Salt Lake midfielder, Damir Kreilach (8), in the game vs. the Houston Dynamo at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on June 26, 2021. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brian Preece, Sports Writer


For the third time in eight days, RSL (3-2-3) took the pitch against a Western Conference opponent. This time, the Houston Dynamo (3-3-4) rolled into Rio Tinto Stadium to take on Real for the first time since Sept. 29, 2019, a 2-1 Real win. 

With back-to-back home matches, RSL is looking to build momentum as they head into the meat of their regular season schedule. A disappointing finish on Wednesday night in Seattle left RSL with a 2-1 loss, ending their four-match win streak. The Dynamo entered with consecutive draws against LAFC and Portland. Both teams are also squarely in the middle of the Western Conference, with Houston sitting in sixth, one spot ahead of RSL in seventh.

A picture-perfect Saturday night served as the backdrop for two teams still trying to hit their stride in the early going of the 2021 MLS season. Continuing a home field tradition, RSL came out strong. Controlling possession with precise passing and an aggressive attack, RSL would end up outshooting Houston 13-2, with seven shots on frame compared to nothing of danger out of the Houston attack. 

With Houston on the defensive, RSL took advantage of their third corner kick in the first ten minutes when Albert Rusnák lifted a ball into the box that homegrown talent Justen Glad deposited into the back of the net. The goal was Glad’s first of the season and gave Rusnák his second assist and a point for the third consecutive match.

RSL was able to have several more scoring chances in the first half, but could not put the ball in the back of the net. Houston keeper Marko Marić earned his paycheck by picking up the trash from a porous Dynamo defense all half long. 

With a 1-0 advantage, RSL hoped to put a stop to a recent trend of allowing early second-half goals. Unfortunately, a brief lapse in defensive focus on a Dynamo counterattack just seven minutes into the second half opened the door for Tyler Pasher to drop a ball at the feet of Maximiliano Urruti, who blasted a right-footed shot from the top of the box past diving RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa.

Neither team was able to gain a significant advantage for the remainder of the match as they combined for only five shots on frame in the second half. Head coach Freddy Juarez spoke of the second half breakdown that led to a goal, “On one end, we have the opportunity to score and that turns into a break, we have an opportunity to foul and end it and good teams do that. The good teams do that. We have to be ruthless and then you win that game. We just have to be more ruthless and that’s a phase that we have to develop.”

A disappointing finish for RSL, as they hoped for the full three points in a home match they dominated in every way but on the scoreboard. “Obviously when it happens over and over again, it’s going to be more and more frustrating,” said Glad. “I think what it comes down to is, everyone knows it’s one point that separates teams from making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. You have to take your opportunities early. You have to take advantage of every point you can get. It feels like we’ve been letting ourselves down, especially with home games. We know you have to win your home games. I think just the fact that it’s happened a couple of times now, it definitely stings a little more.”

By the Numbers

RSL used 57% possession to take 21 (9) shots against 7 (3) for the Dynamo. Houston did not take a shot on goal in the first half.

The lone RSL goal came on a corner set piece, one of thirteen corner kicks for Real in the game.

This was the third Dynamo draw in eight days. RSL finishes a three games in eight days stretch, going 1-1-1. A loss on Wednesday to Western-Conference-leading Seattle and a home victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps were the other results.

With the loss, RSL falls behind Portland into eighth place in the MLS Western Conference.


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