SANDY, Utah—It had been a while since the Houston Dynamo accomplished so much in a game. A simple 1-0 result on a goal against the run of play in Salt Lake had pieces that hadn’t occurred in the past two years, three years, nine years and ever.
Houston’s victory vs. Real Salt Lake marked the first time a road team has earned three points at Rio Tinto Stadium this season. It also gave the Dynamo their first win at the soccer-specific venue, and first win in Salt Lake since 2007. Additionally, it was the third straight game away from home in which Houston had picked up points. That had not occurred since 2013.
“It was difficult, but that's what life on the road is like,” said Houston head coach Wade Barrett. “It's difficult to close out a result against a good team in their house. It was a tall task for us and it worked out tonight.”
Alex capitalized on an RSL turnover in the Dynamo’s attacking third. Ricardo Clark pushed the ball away from John Stertzer and Alex ran onto it while already behind Salt Lake’s defense, and then beat Nick Rimando with the outside of his right foot to take the lead in the 36th minute.
The Brazilian's goal allowed Houston to focus on the one thing it needed to do to come away with points, which was defend, and his recent hot stretch has helped the team find success.
“It's gone under the radar,” Dynamo defender Sheanon Williams. [Alex] breaks up a lot of plays and when we can get our midfielders scoring it's really important for us. It helps out our front line and our whole team. He's done a great job of finishing opportunities and that's really important for us.”
While his on-field play has proven to be important, Alex's effort during the week has helped settle a team that has changed a lot since March.
“He works hard every single day,” Barrett said. “You see the energy he puts out in a game. He does a lot of work and he's still getting up there to create chances. He’s been a good professional every single day.”
Houston made it to halftime with the 1-0 lead and came out prepared for what RSL threw at them. Salt Lake waited just five minutes to make a sub, and by the end of the game had four forwards on the field seeking an equalizer.
“In the second half, [we] showed all the things we talked about,” Barrett said. “[We] showed discipline, showed organization.”
Earning the three points should serve as a boost for the Dynamo, if not for the remaining games of this season, then heading into next year.
“We knew it would take a lot,” Barrett said. “We don't have that many wins on the road this year, so I hope my group takes a lot of confidence from it.”