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Dynamo-Real Salt Lake Preview

Real Salt Lake has not made things easy on itself when it comes to securing a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Closing in on that postseason berth, RSL looks to keep its winless stretch from reaching four games Sunday against the visiting Houston Dynamo.

With two games remaining, Salt Lake (14-13-5) sits fifth in the West. Three points behind fourth-place Seattle and three ahead of San Jose, which is just below the playoff line in eighth. RSL can clinch a playoff berth with a victory Sunday, or through results in its favor involving Portland, FC Dallas and San Jose.

That all sounds relatively good for Salt Lake. However, it's 0-2-1 since beating the Earthquakes on Sept. 11, and coming off a 2-1 home defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday.

"We wan to finish the regular season as strong as possible," defender Nedum Onuoha told Salt Lake's official website. "We've gotten ourselves in such a great position to still technically be in the playoffs now. (Sunday) is the first game of the season where we feel like this is a must-win.

"People are motivated because we want to give a better account for ourselves compared to (Wednesday). When Sunday comes, we'll be ready to go. We'll take it right to Houston and see what we can do."

RSL has not lost back-to-back games at any point this season at Rio Tinto Stadium, which should house quite the atmosphere for goalkeeper Nick Rimando's final regular-season home game.

Rimando, who made his MLS debut in 2000 with the Miami Fusion, is retiring at the end of this season.

Albert Rusnak, who leads Salt Lake with 10 league goals, scored in the 40th minute of a 1-1 draw at Houston to open its 2019 campaign.

The Dynamo (11-17-4), who started 6-1-1 before starting to fall apart in mid-May, have already been eliminated from postseason contention. They're also 2-14-0 on the road, where they've lost six in a row since a 3-1 win at Toronto FC on July 20.

Houston managed only a Tyler Miller won goal in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Supporters' Shield recipient Los Angeles FC. That defeat came after Christian Ramirez assisted on Alberth Elis' equalizing goal and provided the go-ahead score three minutes later in a 2-1 home victory over Orlando City last weekend.

Despite the Dynamo's issues this season, Mauro Manotas (13 goals) has remained a bright spot for the club. The forward, who reportedly has drawn interest to play in Europe, scored Houston's lone goal against RSL in March.

Updated September 27, 2019

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