The Houston Dynamo face Real Salt Lake in the decisive Game 3 of their 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs first-round series at Shell Energy Stadium.

This has been the closest series of the eight played in the first round as Houston were 2-1 winners in Game 1 while Salt Lake took Game 2, a 5-4 penalty shootout win sending this series to this final game.

The winner of this match will advance to the Western Conference semifinals to face eighth seed Sporting Kansas City who stunned top seed St. Louis City in two games.

Team news

Houston Dynamo

Ifunanyachi Achara and Tate Schmitt will both miss out with knee injuries while defender Franco Escobar is questionable with a lower-body injury.

Real Salt Lake

Pablo Ruiz (knee) and Bode Hidalgo (hamstring) are both sidelined but Erik Holt is probable as he battles a shoulder injury.

Predicted lineups

Houston Dynamo: Clark; Escobar, Maciel, Sviatchenko, Dorsey; Herrera, Artur; Quinones, Bassi, Carrasquilla; Baird

Real Salt Lake: MacMath; Oviedo, Vera, Glad, Brody; Luna, Ojeda, Palacio, Gomez; Julio, Savarino

Ones to watch

Amine Bassi (Houston Dynamo)

The Moroccan midfielder has been in excellent form as of late, scoring in three of his last four matches, including both games in this series and will again be a key figure in this Game 3.

Photo: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Iconsportswire via Getty Images
Photo: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Iconsportswire via Getty Images

Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake)

Like Bassi, the 20-year-old has been sizzling hot lately, scoring in four consecutive matches, had RSL's only goal in Game 1 and clinched the Game 2 win with the winning goal in the penalty shootout.  

Luna has emerged as Salt Lake's main man in attack in the absence of talisman Chicho Arango.

Photo: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Iconsportswire via Getty Images
Photo: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Iconsportswire via Getty Images

Previous meetings

Real Salt Lake stayed alive with a dramatic penalty shootout win in Game 2 after they played out a 1-1 draw with Houston over 90 minutes. 

The Dynamo looked to be on their way to a series sweep as Amine Bassi scored in the 28th minute but Jefferson Savarino leveled in the 70th minute.

With no further goals scored, the match went to a shootout where RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath saved Bassi's spot-kick, the first of the ten taken and Diego Luna clinched the victory after scoring the fifth and final penalty for the hosts. 

How to watch

The match will be streamed nationally on Apple TV + with Mark Rogondino as the play-by-play announcer and Heath Pearce serving as analyst. 

Kickoff is set for 6pm Eastern time. 

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