HOUSTON – Real Salt Lake continued their dominance over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night with a 3-1 road win over the Texas club at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The victory marked the Utahns' fourth consecutive win over the Dynamo, and left the two clubs tied on points with 35 points each from 28 matches, six points away from the sixth and final playoff spot in the West.
Salt Lake took the lead just before the stroke of halftime, as playmaker Javier Morales put the visitors up from close range. Morales, who was one of the most influential players in the opening stanza, was in the right place amid a scrum of players and struck home a loose ball on the last kick of the half following a deflected Devon Sandoval shot.
Sandoval found the net himself on the other side of halftime with a goal that proved the game-winner. After three chances for Houston in the early minutes after the break, RSL's Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez saw his 52nd-minute shot saved by Dynamo 'keeper Tyler Deric, only for the rebound to fall right to Sandoval's feet. And the big forward volleyed it past Houston center back David Horst for the 2-0 lead.
The Dynamo's fortunes turned in the 62nd minute, as RSL substitute John Stertzer was whistled for a hand ball in his own penalty box, giving Houston's Brad Davis a chance to score from the penalty spot. Despite his sketchy history vs. goalkeeper Nick Rimando, Davis blasted his effort into the upper-left corner to cut the lead to 2-1.
Houston's momentum did not last long, however.
Just three minutes later RSL's Martinez beat Houston defender Raul Rodriguez on the run and buried a well-placed shot from a tight angle to restore the two-goal lead at 3-1. The strike took the wind out of the Dynamo's sails and iced the win for the visitors.
Things may have gone differently for the Dynamo had Ricardo Clark buried his 22nd minute point-blank chance, but Rimando showed his US national team pedigree with a clutch parry after Nathan Sturgis chipped a ball over the Salt Lake back line to the cutting Clark.
Deric came up with his own goalkeeping heroics in the first half with stops on Joao Plata and a Morales curling set piece, but it was Rimando's stops in the second half that thwarted any hopes of a comeback by the Dynamo.
Houston travel to face the Philadelphia Union next Sunday (7 pm ET, FS1 and FOX Deportes), while Salt Lake will travel directly to El Salvador for a midweek CONCACAF Champions League fixture versus Santa Tecia (10 pm ET, FOX Soccer Plus).