SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – It looked like Real Salt Lake and the Houston Dynamo were going to play to a draw for the third time this season.
But Anderson Julio was not fit to be tied.
Julio, a substitution in the 80th minute, scored the game-winning goal in the 88th, as RSL pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Dynamo at a rainy Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday night.
“I’m so happy with the guys,” head coach Freddy Juarez said. “The mentality, I can’t say and emphasize it enough. The mentality of every single one of our players, our whole roster. When we need them, we need them and that’s what I want.”
RSL opened the scoring in the 6th minute when Bobby Wood made a run, leaving a pass for Justin Meram, who buried his first goal of the season in the far corner of the net.
Despite several Houston chances in the first half, RSL was able to keep that one-goal lead at the break.
But the Dynamo’s Fafa Picault leveled the match on a header in the 51st minute off a corner kick assist from Darwin Ceran. That would be Houston’s only shot on frame.
Mikael Chang subbed in midway through the second half for RSL, and had a couple of good scoring chances, but was turned away both times. Damir Kreilach also had a point blank shot turned away by Houston goalkeeper Marko Maric.
But in the 87th, Julio scored his fourth goal of the season off a touch from Rubio Rubin to give RSL three points at home.
“Three points is always good,” Meram said. “No matter how it comes. I think again it’s another game where parts of the match could have been way better. Give them credit. They fought and pressed us hard. I think we just have to figure it out on the field. Overall the subs came on the field and made a difference. We got the second goal with a great play. We take three points again at home. We have to win our home games no matter how they come. We’re excited about that for sure.”
“Overall, it’s great for us,” said Kreilach. “We’ve won two games this week. They weren’t the nicest wins, but at the end of the day, who cares? In two weeks, no one is going to talk about the way we played Austin and Houston. The most important thing is that we are collecting the points.”
Real Salt Lake (7-6-6) moves into a tie for fifth place in the Western Conference. They’ll next play at Colorado Saturday night.