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SALT LAKE CITY - Scoring chances were few and far between for the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake on Monday night, so Stuart Holden created one of his own.
The second-year forward's fifth goal of the season in the 66th minute broke a scoreless tie as Houston escaped Real Salt Lake with a 1-0 victory.
With wide-open space on the far right side of the field, Holden bent a long, drifting shot toward the goal that Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando just missed. Rimando leapt and got his fingertips on the ball, but not enough to stop it from hitting the back of the net.
Salt Lake (5-15-9) had a perfect chance to tie the game seven minutes later, as team captain Kyle Beckerman was awarded a direct kick after getting tripped up by Houston defender Eddie Robinson. But his attempt was blocked by Wade Barrett, who cleared it to end the scoring threat.
The victory vaults Houston (15-8-6) over idle New England into third place in the MLS playoff standings.
The Dynamo now has 51 points on the season and is just a single point behind second-place Chivas USA (15-7-7) in the overall standings.
Tempers flared late in the game as Real Salt Lake forward Yura Movsisyan, whose slow dribbler from point-blank range in the 51st minute hit the right post to keep his team scoreless, was involved in a tussle near the Houston goal and was given a red card - an automatic ejection.