Three days after losing to the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, Real Salt Lake will get a shot at exacting revenge when it hosts Houston in Sandy, Utah, on Saturday night.
The clubs stepped outside of MLS play on Wednesday night for a 120-minute match that ended with a 3-1 loss for Salt Lake. Anderson Julio's second-half equalizer forced an extra 30 minutes but Houston prevailed behind late goals from Adalberto Carrasquilla and Luis Caicedo.
RSL are unbeaten in their last 11 league matches against the Dynamo, with five wins and six draws.
"We knew it was gonna be a tough match," Salt Lake coach Pablo Mastroeni said. "I'm really proud of the way the guys fought to get back in the game, but I think on the night we just weren't good enough with the ball. Credit to Houston, they're a very good team at home."
Tempers flared toward the end of the match. Brayan Vera was shown a red card in the 119th minute after grabbing Amine Bassi by the neck and punching him. Vera also retaliated against other Houston players who came to Bassi's defense before being sent off.
Vera's absence left Salt Lake with only 10 players over the final few minutes of extra time.
"Hopefully it settles down in the next two days," Houston coach Ben Olsen said. "I think it's an emotional game and there's a lot at stake. The fact it got heated didn't surprise me."
Houston (9-10-5, 32 points) is seeking its third consecutive shutout in MLS play. The Dynamo have recorded back-to-back clean sheets, winning 5-0 over the Portland Timbers last Sunday and posting a scoreless draw at the Colorado Rapids before the long break for the Leagues Cup.
Keeping RSL's offense in check won't be an easy task. Salt Lake (10-7-7, 37 points) has averaged 2.1 goals and 6.6 shots on goal over its last 10 matches. The Utah club has stretched its unbeaten streak to nine, going 6-0-3 since its last defeat on May 31.
Salt Lake's offensive productivity may take a hit with the absence of Pablo Ruiz, who has a team-high six assists along with four goals this season. Ruiz suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 4-0 loss to Los Angeles FC in a Leagues Cup match on Aug. 8.
—Field Level Media