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With Real Salt Lake amid busy stretch, Kreis worried only about Revolution

Jason Kreis is only concerned with New England. Real Salt Lake's coach is in the cliched mindset of taking it one game at a time and isn't interested in looking ahead to the remaining games in a make-or-break stretch of three games in seven days.

"I hasten to talk about stretches, because the focus is one game. The focus is New England, it's as simple as that," said Kreis, whose team takes on the Revolution today at 4 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

Unlike his coach, Will Johnson isn't afraid to tell it like it is. He firmly believes the next week is do-or-die time for Real Salt Lake.

"I think we need a minimum of six points out of these three games. I really do," said Johnson.

Following today's game on the East Coast, RSL returns home for a Wednesday tilt with Chivas USA followed by another road game on Saturday at Kansas City. The importance of picking up points in every match cannot be overstated as New England and Chivas USA are desperate for points as well in the playoff push.

Like his coach, Nick Rimando isn't ready to hang all of his team's hopes on a few late August matches.

"This is MLS, it can go anyway. We could probably still lose all those games and be in it somehow, but right now our task is New England. We know we have a tough stretch coming, so if we can take care of them first and potentially get six or nine points in these next games that will be great," said Rimando.

The top eight teams in MLS qualify for the playoffs, and New England and Real Salt Lake are tied for 10th with 27 points, three out of a playoff spot. The Revolution are in a much more advantageous spot having played two fewer games than most teams in the league.

The reality of RSL's struggles away from home (1-7-2) will impact the club's tactics. Kreis stressed all week that today isn't a must-win match as his team forges ahead without the services of suspended Jamison Olave and Clint Mathis.

With eight teams clumped within five points for the final four playoff spots, Kreis said the potential is there for a season-ending tie. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head results, and a draw this afternoon would be enough for RSL to win the series having already beaten New England 6-0 earlier this year.

It's why Johnson said there's no need to be reckless despite the urgency of the playoff race.

"I don't think we're at that point yet. The games we've done well (on the road), against Houston and D.C., they were games we were very good defensively and we had chances to win the game as well. I don't think we need to try and win games 4-3 because it's not going to happen," he said.

Real Salt Lake is coming off back-to-back shutouts in Rio Tinto Stadium and is well rested for today's match. New England, meanwhile, is coming off a Thursday match at Seattle.

"If we go out there and battle and we give it our all; that's all we can really do," said Rimando. "If we stay away from mental errors and stupid mistakes we can capitalize on some of these games."

Several RSL players downplayed New England's extra motivation after the 6-0 thrashing at Rio Tinto Stadium back in April, but Johnnson admitted that he wouldn't be happy to lose to anybody 6-0.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com