Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Match Preview: Dynamo at Real Salt Lake

The basics

Real Salt Lake (3-3-1, 5th in the Western Conference) vs. Houston Dynamo (4-3-1, 2nd in the Western Conference)
8 p.m. CT, Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy UT
Houston leads the all-time series with a 7-2-4 record against Real Salt Lake.

Broadcast info

ESPN Deportes
SportsTalk 790 (7:15 p.m. pregame)
La Ranchera 850 (7:30 p.m. pregame)

What's at stake?

This is a budding rivalry — several recent matches have been hotly contested down to the wire. The two teams will likely battle throughout the season for positioning in the top half of the Western Conference. A win for Real Salt Lake would pull them level on points with the Dynamo in one fewer game.

Last meeting

In April, Real Salt Lake visited Houston and took a rare lead early on the road. All of that was erased by two penalty kicks three minutes apart in the opening minutes of the second half, giving Houston a 2-1 victory. Both penalties, converted by Houston midfielder Brad Davis, came off fouls committed in the box by RSL defender Jamison Olave.

Heroes & Villains

Brian Ching vs. Jamison Olave — This should be the premier matchup, but injuries may avert this battle. The two have exchanged harsh words in several recent matches, and one altercation ultimately led to Olave's ejection in 2009. Ching injured his hamstring in the last match between these two teams and is just returning to form. Olave has had a chronic knee injury that coach Jason Kreis hinted could keep him out of this one.

Javier Morales vs. Richard Mulrooney This could be an intriguing battle for supremacy in the middle of the field. If Houston comes out in the 4-3-3 like a week ago, it could open up space for Morales, who was not at his very best last week after an illness the week prior. If Real Salt Lake are able to control the ball in the middle of the park, it could limit what Houston wants to do out on the wings.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm …”

Houston has a +16 foul differential (100 suffered, 84 committed), and its savvy in this regard could play to its advantage against an RSL team that has given up four penalty kick goals this season.

He said it

“It’s a special game for us.” — Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales on the chance at avenge a 2-1 loss against Houston earlier in the season.