Published January 13, 2015
Real Salt Lake will cap a busy week on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium when the club hosts the Houston Dynamo.
The match will be RSL's third in seven days after the team relinquished the Rocky Mountain Cup in a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids last weekend, while reaching the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers.
"It's huge for the club. It's huge for the team. We really deserve something like this," RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando said after the semifinal win over Portland. "The guys have been playing really hard and putting in a lot of work in the trainings this year. We'd been coming up short a couple of times in the years past, so it's good to get back to a final."
RSL will host D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup final on Oct. 1, but in the meantime, Jason Kreis and his team will try to remain on top of the Western Conference as they enter the weekend with a three-point lead on both Colorado and Portland.
Salt Lake has lost just once in eight league games against Houston at home, but the Dynamo is currently in the midst of a good run of form that has vaulted the club into a playoff position.
With 10 points earned from a possible 12 in the last four games, Houston has moved into fifth place in the Eastern Conference and sits only five points back of leaders Red Bull New York.
But the recent surge in form for the Dynamo is not a coincidence as the club has gotten back a number of players from international duty and injury during that time.
"We've been struggling with injuries and guys being gone," Houston forward Will Bruin said after his team's most recent victory, a 3-1 triumph over Columbus. "Tonight was our first night to have our preferred 11 on the field and it shows. This team has a lot of depth."
Houston also broke out of its offensive doldrums against the Crew after netting just four goals in the previous six games.
"The only people that spoke about it was the public and the media," head coach Dominic Kinnear said of the team's offensive struggles. "Sometimes you miss and sometimes it's just good goalkeeping and defending. We never talked about it in the locker room, we just looked forward to the next game."