KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The last time Sporting KC faced Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup Playoffs was in the exact same round that they are in now: Western Conference Semis.

In 2018 (back when playoffs were home and home aggregate), Sporting beat RSL 5-3 on aggregate led by Dániel Sallói.

RSL also swept Sporting in their two matches this year.

But Sallói and manager Peter Vermes know that this year’s playoff match is completely different than any of those games.

“The first [2021 match vs. RSL] was very, very early in the season. I think we matured as a team as well from that early game,” Sallói said.

“The second game we played, it was a tough Decision Day game. We all know anything can happen in those games. Just like in the playoffs, I think what we have to look at is we have a healthy squad, we played really well against Vancouver, we followed the game plan, everybody did amazing. And that’s what we’ll have to do. We’ll have to be on top of our game: push hard but be patient at the same time. It’s gonna be a tough game… but we’re all prepared for that.”

“They’re a very good team. They compete all the time. They defend well all the time. And they’re just a very competitive team,” Vermes said.

“I always think that they’re very good on the counter, they take their chances well and they’re concentrated every game. We know that they’ve beat us twice this year. Difficult match, difficult opponent. New game and we gotta get prepared for it.”

Sallói also said he is excited to face RSL goalie David Ochoa and he’s confident that he can score against Salt Lake.

“I think he’s a great goalie, he’s a crazy guy for sure but hopefully we’ll get the best out of him, best out of us for this weekend.”

Vermes is also quick to downplay any talk of a rivalry between the two clubs: they are just two teams who happen to meet often and play hard for a win.

“There’s similarities, probably market size, how we build our roster,” Vermes said.

“You wind up having to keep teams that are similar and battling. I think that’s what it comes down to and obviously, this game will be the same thing.”

Sunday’s contest at Children’s Mercy Park is slated for 2 p.m. CT.