As Houston Dynamo prepares for their third and final second-round playoff game against Real Salt Lake, the odds are strongly in their favor following a 2-1 in the opening fixture and a 1-1 draw away.
Houston’s home advantage in the final fixture sees apps focused on Texan users pricing them as odds on favorites for the game and to progress.
Dynamo find themselves further down the pecking order to win the MLS Championship outright, with FC Cincinnati and Los Angeles FC leading the way.
If the Texans progress, they will most likely meet up with Sporting Kansas City in the conference semi-final. This is another fixture in which the odds favor Houston Dynamo, the chance to reach the Conference Championship final, and even the MLS Cup final on December 9th could be in reach.
Houston Dynamo Team News
Houston Dynamo look set to field a settled 4-2-3-1 lineup in the final fixture against Real Salt Lake. There are no fresh injury concerns leaving head coach Ben Olsen free to continue with a team that has been performing well.
Dynamo will be relying on free-scoring French midfielder Amine Bassi to continue his fine form. Since his $1.5 million capture from Metz, he has been integral to Dynamo’s success so far this season and was even the first player in the history of the MLS to score a penalty in 4 consecutive games.
Experienced midfielder Hector Herrera who had spells at Porto and Atletico Madrid will also be instrumental to the Houston team. The 33-year-old Mexian has over 100 caps for his country and is a dynamic box-to-box midfielder.
Erik Sviatchenko is another player fans of European football may remember with spells at Midtjylland and Celtic. The commanding center-back put pen to paper on a two-year contract in March of this year and will be hopeful that he can provide the steel at the back required to progress.
Real Salt Lake Team News
While Houston has been fortunate to come into the playoffs with few injury concerns, it is a different story for Real Salt Lake. Injuries to key players like Pablo Ruiz, Justen Glad, and Erik Hold have seen them struggle so far against the Texans.
Cristian Arango had also been suffering from a hamstring problem but could feature.
Head coach Pablo Mastroeni still has a lot of experience and talent at his disposal with former English Premier League defender Bryan Oviedo featuring on the left side of defence for his team.
Real Salt Lake’s biggest attacking threat will come from the 26-year-old Venezuelan winger Jefferson Savarino. The diminutive attacker is the team’s top scorer with 8 goals and has also chipped in with three assists.
Houston took the advantage in the first of three playoff games against Real Salt Lake with a 2-1 win on October 29th. A 22nd-minute opener for Herrera put Houston Dynamo ahead in a cagey first half.
Real Salt Lake came out for the second half with renewed vigor and almost levelled after three minutes with Gomez being denied by Steve Clark in goal for the Dynamo.
The equalizer did come not long after, with Diego Luna scoring in the 54th minute. This seemed to spur Houston on and they came close when Baird hit the post with a good effort.
Their pressure paid off in the 79th minute when Amine Bassi scored the rebound after MacMath saved Dorsey’s goalbound effort.
The return fixture in Utah saw the Houston Dynamo take a first-half lead through Amine Bassi. Bassi was on hand to score the rebound after MacMath saved his penalty that was awarded for a foul by Glad on Escobar.
Like the first game, Real Salt Lake failed to register a shot on target in the first half. A more determined Real Salt Lake came out for the second half and Savarino eventually tied the match in the 70th minute with an expert free kick.
The game went to penalty kicks and Real Salt Lake scraped through 5-4 after MacMath once again saved Bassi’s spot kick. Diego Luna was on hand to score the final penalty after all the other efforts were converted.
With Houston celebrating Dynamo Day on the 10th before the final play-off game on the 11th, the team and fans will be in high spirits. The rally will provide fans with free drinks and snacks, as well as swag bags for those who turn up.
This will help boost the team’s support and ensure the home crowd is ready to give them their full backing.
One player to look out for will be Amine Bassi who will be desperate to make up for his missed penalty in the previous game. He has been the main player in both games so far and is capable of taking the Houston Dynamo to the latter stages of this competition.
The game will take place at Houston’s Shell Energy Stadium with a 6 pm kickoff. Fans will also be able to watch live on Apple TV with an MLS Season Pass.