Houston, TX – The Real Salt Lake U-16 Academy team dropped the second group game of Finals Week to the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at the Houston Amateur Sports Park on Tuesday night.
With the loss, Real Salt Lake is not eliminated, but also has lost control of the group. For Real Salt Lake to advance to the championship game on Saturday, they need to beat Texans SC, and the Dynamo need to lose or draw with Albertson SC. Both games will be played on Thursday night.
The Houston Dynamo earned a foul :58 seconds into the match, and converted the free-kick moments later when it was perfectly placed in the upper right corner.
RSL shook off the early deficit and started to attack, but without purpose and at times were a little sloppy before another stroke of luck happened. For the second consecutive game, officials stopped the match due to a lightning storm that passed over the field. The 77 minute delay allowed RSL coaches to reorganize the team and it showed once the game was back up and running.
RSL attacking with purpose this time earned a penalty in the 29th minute when Damian German was taken down in the box. Moises Rodriguez stepped up and hit the post on the ensuing spot-kick. RSL determined to equalize before the half sent in a flurry of shots. The most notable was when Fito Ovalle blasted a screamer from 30 yards out that knuckled in the air. The Dynamo goalkeeper held his ground and saved what looked to be an equaling goal.
After the halftime break the Dynamo looked to extend their lead and had their second shot of the game in the 41st minute that went wide right. RSL then earned a free-kick 7 minutes later from a dangerous spot in front of the net. Bofo Saucedo stepped up and sent in a curling shot that was saved by the Dynamo goalkeeper.
Because RSL had to push players forward to equalize, the defense at times became exposed. There were two nerve-racking moments in the second half that could have been called for penalties against RSL. The first was in the 55th minute and the second in the 64th. Both times the ref was uninterested in the pleas coming from the Dynamo bench.
As the game continued RSL had chances but could not get a clean look on the net. Three different headers were saved by the Dynamo goalkeeper and the next best chance on goal; a free-kick from Brooks Lennon was saved again in the closing minutes.
RSL sent players forward in stoppage time, but it was not enough as the Dynamo outlasted them.
Next game for RSL will be against Texans SC on Thursday night. Kickoff at 6:30 p.m. CT/4:30 Arizona time.