SANDY — As far as Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke was concerned, if his lineup worked a few days earlier in Los Angeles, there was no reason to make drastic changes a few days later regardless of the short rest.
Nine of the 11 starters he trotted out Sunday night against Kansas City were in the starting lineup Thursday in the 3-2 knockout-round playoff win over LAFC.
The only changes he made were starting Sunday Stephen and Joao Plata in place of Luke Mulholland and Corey Baird.
Everyone else he felt comfortable in giving another start after they helped Real Salt Lake record its first playoff win since 2013. Ahead of the match, he said those players just needed to manage themselves wisely.
“There will be some tired legs at some moments in the game. Will it change the way we play? Perhaps at certain times knowing when to get a bit more organized as far as, even though we’re at home, pushing the envelope and getting stretched ’cause we’re tired. Aside from that, they’re all professionals, they get paid very well to do what they love,” said Petke.
Kyle Beckerman didn’t see any reason why the short rest should be an issue either.
“If we could have a couple more days we’d take it, but it’s playoff time, so everybody is feeling a little something. Even if Kansas City got the rest I’m sure guys are feeling stuff, it’s the end of the season. You’ve got to bring out the grit, that will, determination, all those things to try to put on a good game,” Beckerman said.
While he made a couple of changes higher up the field, Petke didn’t touch his back line.
He rolled out the same back line against Kansas City on Sunday that he did against LAFC three nights earlier.
Among them was center back Nedum Onuoha, who was a surprise starter against LAFC as the coaching decision kept Justen Glad on the bench for a second straight game. Onuoha, who made the move to MLS from England in mid-September, made just one start during the regular season.
Glad, meanwhile, started 33 of 34 games this season.
After Thursday’s win, Petke said experience played a big role in his decision — which likely led to a second straight start on Sunday.
“He was brought in for many reasons, one of the biggest ones was his experience. Having played at such a high level,” Petke said.
Glad ended up on the field anyway as RSL’s other center back, Marcelo Silva, was forced to leave in the 41st minute with a groin injury.
Silva only started 18 games this season because of injury, and another injury could keep him out of the second leg in Kansas City next Sunday.