For the third time this season, Real Salt Lake shared the pitch with Houston Dynamo. With the first two games both ending in a draw, RSL hoped to break the tie in the third meeting on Wednesday night at the Rio Tinto Stadium.
Thanks to a late goal from Anderson Julio, the thrill came on for the third time as Claret and Cobalt got away with a 2-1 win over Dynamo, scooping up three points for their second game in a row. Justin Meram scored the first goal for RSL during a breakaway early in the game and Houston’s Fabrice Picault equalized in the 51st minute, setting the stage for Julio’s late game exploits.
The win puts RSL in fifth place in the Western Conference as it prepares for the Rocky Mountain Cup second leg against Colorado – currently fourth in the Western Conference – on Saturday.
Here are three lessons learned from RSL’s second win in a row:
The Claret and Cobalt jumped into the driver’s seat early when Bobby Wood caught the ball deep in the attacking third and laid a pass to Meram, who took the shot on his first touch and hit in the 6th minute of the game. The goal came just three minutes after RSL scored after a Kreilach header, but the offside flag was hoisted to the dismay of the crowd in Rio Tinto.
The goal was the first of the season for Meram after coming close to scoring several times during the year.
“I knocked on the door and everyone was joking about when I was going to meet, so it was time I got one down,” Meram said. “It’s always good to get to your first (goal) and get out of the way so that I can hopefully build on that.”
Super subs come through
Real Salt Lake received a decisive boost from its substitutes, with Rubin (on 57th minute on) Julio (on 80th minute) being inevitable at goal in the 88th the third straight draw against Houston,
Meram, who was substituted on for Julio, said the game win showed how complete the RSL list is from top to bottom.
“The subs came, Anderson came and scored a great goal to win the game. So it’s not about an individual, it’s about how we all play together to help each other be successful, ”said Meram.
After a tough three-game stretch with RSL adding just one point to their season total, captain Albert Rusnak said the team needed to get things started and get better results. Rusnak even went so far as to say that the home games against Austin and Houston were “must-win games”.
It seems that Rusnak’s mentality permeated the rest of the team when the team took the full six points against the two Texan opponents. Although the victories were marginal and anything but nice, Kreilach said it didn’t matter what the performances looked like as long as they led to victories.
“We won both games. Of course they weren’t the best victories, but who cares at the end of the day, ”said Kreilach after the second victory in a row. “In two weeks no one will be talking about how we played against Austin and Houston. The most important thing is that we collect the points, that’s what it’s about. “