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Real Salt Lake: Coach Jason Kreis not looking past Whitecaps

Published: Wednesday, July 25 2012 11:03 p.m. MDT

Vancouver Whitecaps' Camilo Sanvezzo celebrates his penalty kick goal against Real Salt Lake during the first half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)

Darryl Dyck, AP

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SANDY — Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said he only has one thing on his mind right now, and that's preparing for the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps this Friday.

As far as he's concerned next Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League group play opener against Herediano in Costa Rica doesn't exist yet.

"It never works for me, and I don't think it works for this group to be considering two games at once. We just need to be very, very focused on this first Vancouver game. It's an extremely important one to us. We need to make the right decisions to put out the team that's going to give us the best chance to win that game," said Kreis.

If a struggling MLS team were rolling into town, maybe Kreis would consider starting a mix of starters and reserves to keep certain players fresh for the visit to Costa Rica. He doesn't have that luxury with Vancouver.

The Whitecaps occupy the third spot in the Western Conference, and only trail RSL by five points. They're coming off a victory against San Jose as well, and will be riding a wave of confidence into Rio Tinto Stadium.

As important as the Champions League is to the club, Ned Grabavoy said it would be foolish to look past Vancouver.

"I think it's a mind-set we have to worry about the game on Friday first. You never know how you're going to come out of the game (with injuries), so concentrate on Friday and then look forward to the CONCACAF," he said.

With an extra day of rest because of the Vancouver game being played on Friday instead of Saturday, Grabavoy doesn't seem too concerned about fatigue setting in over the next week.

STATUS UNKNOWN: RSL captain Kyle Beckerman played 34 minutes for the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia on Wednesday in its 3-2 win over English giant Chelsea.

Beckerman played sound defensively at holding midfield, and he was credited with an assist on Eddie Johnson's stoppage time game winner.

More importantly to RSL, he stayed injury free. The big question now is his availability for this Friday's match against Vancouver.

Kreis said he set a minute threshold for Beckerman to help with that decision, but he declined to share that information.

If Beckerman is held out on Friday to save his energy for next Tuesday's match in Costa Rica, Yordany Alvarez will likely get the starting nod at holding midfield.

Grabavoy said it was great to see RSL's captain representing the club on the international stage.

"Kyle's a guy that's represented this club a lot of years in the All-Star game and he's been our captain and the face of the team. I'm happy for him cause I thought it was really deserving, I thought he's played really well (this year)," said Grabavoy.

MORE ALL-STAR RECOGNITION: While Beckerman was back East playing against the European champions on Wednesday, three other RSL players were named to the MLS All-Star inactive roster.

For Jamison Olave and Nick Rimando, the 2012 All-Star selection was the third of their career while Fabian Espindola's selection was his first.

The 13-player inactive roster was determined by league-wide player voting.

"We're happy to have guys named to the All-Star team," said Kreis. "It's always good to get recognition for our players, but ultimately what we thing is the most important by a long shot is the game on Friday."

Rimando (2001 & 2010) and Olave (2010 & 2011) actually played in All-Star game in their previous two selections.

email: jedward@desnews.com

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