HOUSTON — Following a devastating 2-0 loss to L.A. FC, Real Salt Lake will move on to its next road game against the Houston Dynamo Saturday night. This will be the second of three games in eight days for the young team.
RSL was unable to capitalize on any goal opportunities against L.A. FC and failed to stop Christian Ramirez from scoring two goals early in the match.
Nick Rimando, RSL's starting goalie, went down in the 46th minute with a left hamstring injury when the team was already down 2-0. He was replaced with Andrew Putna, a young player who was signed in July from the Real Monarchs due to injuries of backups Alex Horwath and Connor Sparrow. Despite being the team's fourth-string goalie, he made two saves in his MLS debut.
“I thought (Andrew Putna) came on in a very difficult situation, without experience in that situation, and I thought he did very well," said head coach Mike Petke following the game in L.A.
Rimando is listed as "questionable" on the MLS soccer injury report that was updated on Thursday. RSL did not respond to inquiries on whether he will play on Saturday or not. The veteran had not been subbed out for 462 games prior to his injury.
Picking up a road win with or without Rimando is crucial for Real Salt Lake to earn a playoff spot. Currently, the squad is clinging to the sixth place slot in the West with a 10-5-10 record and 35 points.
"It's all open when you look at this conference... it's so tight that every team on the table right now still has a chance to go to playoffs," said Albert Rusnak. "There's such a small gap between us and third place... it's going to be an interesting end to the season."
Meanwhile, Houston sits toward the bottom of the West with a 7-6-10 record and 27 points. The team is coming off four consecutive losses, the most recent being a 1-0 loss against Columbus Crew SC — giving RSL the perfect chance to steal the win.
"We've just gotta keep on," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. "We've got a bunch of young, hungry guys and we're trying to punch above our weight class. All we can do is keep grinding and see if we can improve."
The last time the two teams met in May, RSL took the 2-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium with the game-winning goal coming from Beckerman in the 82nd minute.
Beckerman has proved to be an indispensable player this season, helping lead a young group to a nearly undefeated record at Rio Tinto Stadium. He is constantly trying to help the team steal wins on the road.
The match will kick off at 7 p.m. at BBVA Compass Stadium.