SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake regained the lead in the race for the Supporter's Shield, sending the Houston Dynamo to their first loss in their last five as an Alvaro Saborio penalty kick proved the difference for a 1-0 decision Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
For the first time at home, and only the second time this season, Real came out in a 4-3-3 formation rather than their customary 4-4-2 diamond midfield. After an opening 10 minutes that saw Houston emerge as the aggressors, RSL began to find its rhythm in its new shape.
Playmaker Javier Morales nearly put RSL in front in the 24th minute when he put on a display of dribbling skills before firing a bending shot over the top of the net from 24 yards out.
FULL BOX SCORE AND MATCH STATISTICS
Only a few minutes later, a nice run and give-and go from Olmes Garcia ended with a cross that deflected to Joao Plata and the Ecuadorian struck a rocket that slammed off the crossbar.
Houston succeeded in getting into RSL's defensive third, but the visitors were unable to get past the last line of defense and settled for several shots from distance that were either wide or handled easily by RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando.
It wasn't until the 37th minute that the scoreline changed. It was Garcia once again threatening the Dynamo defense with Houston's Adam Moffat undercutting the first-year player on an aerial challenge in the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: RSL contain Houston's attack
Saborio stepped up and buried the penalty kick for his 5th goal in three games since returning from international duty and the Dynamo were up 1-0 at the break.
In the second half Houston pushed their outside backs further upfield into the attack, but the Dynamo's best looks would come late in the match on a handful of set pieces which were neutralized by the RSL defense.
Real will travel to play the defending champions LA Galaxy next Saturday, while Houston will host Clint Dempsey and the Seattle Sounders on the same day.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Olmes Garcia||Wreaked havoc down the right wing and also earned the penalty kick. His club's most dynamic and dangerous attacker.|
|2||Ned Grabavoy||RSL's MVP this season. Consistent, effective and tireless. Wherever Jason Kreis puts him in midfield, he makes an impact.|
|3||Chris Wingert||The left back dominated his flank and also showed off a crisp passing game for most of the night.|