Riding a two-match unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer action, and a three-match unbeaten streak overall, Real Salt Lake will face one of its sternest tests in recent weeks tonight.
The resurgent Utah side heads to Houston where it will take on last season’s MLS Cup runner-up at BBVA Compass Stadium at 6:30 p.m. The match will be televised live on KUCW-30.
With both times in the playoff hunt in their respective conferences, tonight’s result could give either side a critical boost as it attempts to firmly lock down a postseason appearance.
Salt Lake, however, will have to do so with a line-up depleted by national team call-ups and suspension.
Traditional starters Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Kyle Beckerman (U.S.) and Will Johnson (Canada) have been called to their respective national teams for FIFA World Cup qualification duty, while Chris Wingert will miss the match due to caution accumulation after picking up his fifth booking of the season during Saturday’s 1-0 win vs. D.C. United.
Tonight’s match should mark the return of defender Chris Schuler to duty for the first time since May, albeit he will likely return in an outside role to offset the lineup hole opened by Wingert’s absence.
Fabian Espindola, Luis Gil and Yordany Alvarez are likely to fill into the spots vacated by Saborio, Johnson and Beckerman, respectively.
Houston, which carried a five-match winning streak from July 15 to Aug. 3, suddenly finds itself in a poor run of form as the Dynamo are winless in their past four outings (0-2-2). The latest outing saw the defending Eastern Conference champions fall 3-1 on the road to Chicago.
Salt Lake and Houston have met 16 previous times, with the Dynamo leading the series 8-5-3. The Texas side is 7-0-1 at home vs. Real, a tally which included a dramatic 3-2 result last season.