SANDY, Utah – Jason Kreis is more than familiar with the New England Revolution's situation. The Revs, mired in a rebuilding project, have had their ups and downs eight games into rookie head coach Jay Heaps' reign. Periods of inspired play have given way to periods of sloppy defense and woeful finishing.
But it's clear that New England have shown sparks of excellence, collecting three wins and playing a number of close contests.
Kreis' RSL side was once quite like that. And the coach remembers well, so he's not about to take Heaps' team lightly ahead of their Saturday evening clash at Rio Tinto Stadium (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“What we need to be prepared for is them at their best, because when they’re at their best, they’re a very, very good team, and can cause us some troubles,” Kreis explained after training this week.
He understands where the Revs are in their evolutionary process, having gone through it during his initial days as a coach. Ironically, in 2007, after Kreis was named RSL's head man, New England were a team he pointed to as a role model because they had gone through a stretch of sustained excellence.
And though things have been rocky for the Revolution over the last couple of seasons, under Heaps, they have showed signs of a revival early in the 2012 campaign.
“I think with any new coach, and new players, and new structure, new system and new philosophies, there’s going to be some confusion, and there’s going to be ups and downs and inconsistencies," explained Kreis, "and I think that’s exactly where they are."
RSL defender Chris Wingert points out that New England had three straight close losses prior to picking up a midweek victory over Colorado.
“They have some quality,” said Wingert. “I think sometimes that makes them even a more dangerous opponent because they tend to be extra-focused. And I know they will be on Saturday.”
But in the end, Real Salt Lake believe that it’s perhaps more important to focus more on what they need to do well than to worry about the quality of their opponent.
“We need to be at our best,” explained the RSL boss, "because when we’re at our best, I don’t think there are too many teams that can stay with us."