Sandy, UT – Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis was just focused on the positive, and that was what he could control over the rest of the year, despite watching the club's MLS winless streak reach four games last week.
Real ended a brutal stretch of matches last Friday with a 0-0 draw against the Philadelphia Union on the road, and with just seven regular-season matches and crucial CONCACAF Champions League games ahead, he knew it was time to shine.
"I'm really ready to ratchet this thing up," he said, "and get us running here for the playoffs."
Real (13-10-4) lost its third straight league match, 2-1, against FC Dallas on Aug. 18, defeated Tauro of Panama, 2-0, on Tuesday in the Champions League and tied Philadelphia on the road in a quick stretch.
With a break from Champions League play this week, RSL had time to prepare for a visit from D.C. United (12-9-5) on Saturday in a key inter-conference match.
"I feel like we've put three strong performances together over the past week," Kreis said after the Union match, "and we've had two really good results."
Real secured its 15th road point of the season against Philadelphia, and heads back to Rio Tinto Stadium with confidence. RSL has nine wins at home and 28 of its 43 points on the season.
Despite its recent struggles, Real Salt Lake still sits level on points with Seattle Sounders FC for second place in the Western Conference.
"We just keep looking, and we're still there (second). If you can get a bunch of wins, that is what can keep you up there, so that's what's really helped us stay at the top," RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said.
"If we could cut our losses in half, we'd definitely be at the top."
The San Jose Earthquakes are seven points clear atop the West with one game in hand, making a run at first a huge challenge for Real.
United is just six points behind first-place Sporting Kansas City, but is also in a battle to remain in the top five. The Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact are all within two points. Columbus plays Montreal, so one of them would not be able to catch United this weekend.
United will try to hold off its challengers this week, including the Fire, who are level on 41 points. D.C. picked up a good draw against Red Bull New York, 2-2, on Wednesday, and should be confident against Real.
But like so many other squads in MLS, D.C. has struggled on the road with just 10 points away from RFK Stadium. With just a 3-8-1 mark on the road, D.C. will have four more road games left after this weekend.
Coach Ben Olsen admitted a "point was OK," against New York, but another point in Utah is not the goal this weekend.
"We go to a very tough place to play in Salt Lake and now that game means even more," Olsen said. "We will regroup, we'll cry about it tonight, and get back to work ... and move on with the season because its still there."