HOUSTON (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake now faces a true must-win situation to keep its season alive.
Amine Bassi scored the game-winning goal in the 79th minute on a rebound shot to give the Houston Dynamo a 2-1 victory over RSL in the first game of the best-of-three MLS playoff series.
Real Salt Lake must now win at home over the Dynamo on November 6 at America First Field to force a deciding game on November 11.
“We’ve got to win a game away from home in order to go through,” said RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “So that was the mindset going into the game. I think the effort was fantastic, just with ten minutes left, it was a tough goal to swallow.”
Bassi was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of Griffin Dorsey’s shot that was batted away by RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath, getting his left foot on the rebound and sending it into the top-left corner for the deciding tally.
The Dynamo are the fourth seed in the West while Real Salt Lake finished fifth in the conference. Sunday’s match was the first-ever postseason meeting between the sides.
MacMath made three saves in defeat, and Diego Luna scored his first career playoff goal for RSL.
“Of course you’re happy when you score a goal, and I don’t think the type of game changes that,” Luna said. “It’s a goal and you feel happy at the moment, but the most important thing is the result, and my goal means nothing if we couldn’t get the three points.”
Houston’s Hector Herrera made quick work of the match’s first real scoring chance in the 22nd minute, allowing a headed pass to the front of the box by Adalberto Carrasquilla to bounce off his chest before steadying it and uncorking a left-footed shot that beat MacMath to the bottom-right corner.
The Dynamo managed the only other shot on goal on the first half when Artur’s try was corralled by MacMath in the 41st minute.
RSL pressed for the equalizer early in the second half as Andres Gomez was stopped in the 48th minute at the bottom-left corner by Houston keeper Steve Clark. The Dynamo answered with a chance of their own six minutes later when Nelson Quinones turned around a pass from Artur that was saved by MacMath.
The visitors quickly countered and pulled even in the 54th minute on Luna’s goal from the center of the box to the bottom-right corner after a fast-break pass from Anderson Julio.
Houston’s Corey Baird hit the post with a shot from the center of the goal in the 63rd minute, and soon after a steady drizzle began. That set the stage for Dorsey and, ultimately, Bassi’s late heroics.
RSL is now 0-3-1 against Houston across all competitions this season, being outscored by the Dynamo, 8-2.