SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake had plenty of lineup changes for their final MLS regular season contest against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The 0-0 draw saw many new faces on the pitch for the home squad, but according to coach Jason Kreis, that wasn't the original plan.
"(We) didn't rest as many guys as people think," he said. "Over the last 24 hours or so, I had a very clear plan of what the lineup was going to look like and it changed drastically.
"The only decision that we made that was clearly a resting situation was Will Johnson," Kreis added. "Everybody else had an injury or something that we needed to consider whether we were willing to take the risk of having them further injuring it in the last match and be unavailable for the playoffs."
The defense in particular had a different look as both center backs Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers were not on the 18-man roster. Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Chris Wingert manned the center, while Kenny Mansally got the start at left back where Wingert normally played. Even more unusual was the presence of Kyle Reynish in goal for the ever-steady Nick Rimando.
"I look at the back four, plus-one, and we had one player playing out of position. We had another player (Watson-Siriboe) who hasn't played in the last month, who is still a very young center back. We had Kenny Mansally playing left back and he hasn't played in a couple of months in a real game. We had Kyle Reynish playing goalkeeper, who hasn't played a real game in — I can't remember when, and I think all of them performed very, very well tonight."
RSL's offense has failed to score in their last three games, but the defense has been steady, posting shutouts in four of their last five games, including three straight. So despite changes, the "new" guys continued the trend.
"I thought it was a big accomplishment for four new guys to play together to get a clean sheet," said Reynish.
Individually, each of the three took away pretty much the same general feeling.
"I think I did OK," said Watson-Siriboe. "I thought Wigert and Tony (Beltran) probably covered some for me, but it felt good to be back out there contributing."
"I feel great getting back in the starting lineup," said Mansally. "It was great to get the start and be able to get out there and prove myself again. I thought I played pretty well. I got forward and played good defense. I just hope I can get more chances here to prove myself."
"it's always nice… to get a little bit of confidence and a clean sheet," Reynish said.
When the playoffs begin next week with RSL either hosting Seattle or traveling to the Emerald City, the lineup may revert to the norm, but if called upon, the next man up will be ready.