Real Salt Lake: Push to playoffs must begin now
Team needs to beat lowly Whitecaps after 3 straight losses.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy • Jason Kreis is sick about Real Salt Lake's three consecutive losses.

Truly.

"It makes me a bit nauseous," Kreis said as he prepared his RSL for Thursday's MLS clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place.

Kreis is also about done with moral victories. Three games remain before the start of the postseason, and just having a good effort, such as in Saturday's tough 2-1 loss at Los Angeles, doesn't sit well with the Real coach.

It's time for RSL to step up.

"To be completely honest, we have to be completely focused on us right now," Kreis said. "I can be happy as I want with performances and things I see in matches — effort, togetherness, camaraderie — but at the end of the day we need to win some games, too.

"I want to be somebody who's feeling like the glass is half full. But in order to do that we've got to fill up the glass."

On the surface, Vancouver (4-16-10), one of first MLS teams to be eliminated from the playoffs, looks to be a perfect medicine for what ails Kreis and RSL (15-10-6). Real defeated the lowly Whitecaps 2-0 earlier this season in Rio Tinto Stadium.

But Thursday's game also has all the ingredients to be a trap game, one ripe for an upset.

First, RSL will be without a handful of starters thanks to yellow card suspensions and international duty.

The list of missing includes Salt Lake's two top scorers, Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola.

Then there is Vancouver, a team going nowhere and with nothing to lose. They have players, fighting for jobs, who want to make a good impression for next year. In addition, the Whitecaps lost the first game at its new stadium Sunday.

"You're going to look for guys who are hungry now," Vancouver interim coach Tommy Soehn told The Province. "Whoever is going to come back and is going to fight and scrap...is going to play."

All of this has not been lost on Real's players, themselves trying to turn around a recent downward spiral, coming after a five-game winning streak.

In fact, the second half of RSL's season has been dominated by streaks, up and down.

"The most dangerous teams in the league are the ones who don't have anything to play for," RSL defender Nat Borchers said. "They've had some tough results and they're playing for their lives right now, in terms of who's going to be back next season.

"And quite frankly there's a lot of pressure on us. We've dropped our last three in a row, so we definitely have a lot of pressure on ourselves to get a result."

RSL is entrenched in third place in the Western Conference, six points behind Seattle in second and five in front of FC Dallas, for an automatic berth in the MLS postseason.

Real Salt Lake plays at Colorado on Oct. 14 before ending the season Oct. 22 at Rio Tinto against Portland.

"We have to stay focused," Kreis said. "We've got to figure a way to get a result right now, because you need results in playoffs. it's time to focus ourselves on that."

An RSL victory would make everybody feel better.

martyr@sltrib.com

Twitter: @rsltribune —

RSL at Vancouver

At BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, B.C.

Kickoff • 7:30 p.m.

TV • KMYU 2.2 Comcast 22/Dish 12

Radio • 700 AM/1600 AM

Records • RSL 15-10-6, VWC 4-16-10

All-time series • RSL, 1-0

Last meeting • RSL, 2-0 (June 4,)

About the Whitecaps • Forward Eric Hassli is suspended after picking up his eighth yellow card in Sunday's 1-0 loss against Portland. … Vancouver opened the newly renovated B.C. Place in the loss.

About RSL • Five RSL players — Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador), Will Johnson (Canada), Jean Alexandre (Haiti) and Kyle Beckerman (U.S.) — will miss Thursday's game due to international duty.