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Jason Kreis, the first soccer player signed by Real Salt Lake, is more than pleased to be Utah's first Major League Soccer athlete.
Excited, delighted and honored is how Kreis put it at Wednesday's press conference introducing the 31-year-old striker formerly of FC Dallas.
"I'm honored that [general manager] Steve Pastorino and [coach] John Ellinger would choose me for this opportunity," Kreis said. And he certainly seems anxious to get started with the expansion team.
"I asked John [Ellinger] if we could start training camp next week," Kreis said.
Kreis, an Omaha, Neb., native, is the league's all-time leader in goals scored (91) and game-winning goals (28). First drafted by Dallas in the fifth round of the league's inaugural year, Kreis also ranks among the top five in the league in games (247), starts (227), minutes (20,290), points (247), shots (686) and shots on goal (313).
"If you give him half a chance, he will make you pay for it," Ellinger said. "With that cannon of his, he has been able to score a lot of goals."
Pastorino said Kreis was promised he would start in every game he played, and that the team would be built around him. RSL made the trade during an eight-hour trade window Monday that opened after the MLS Cup weekend freeze and closed with Friday's expansion draft coming up.
Pastorino said Kreis is one of the few names he thought of when asked shortly after being hired in September who would be the ideal player for RSL.
"When I first got the call that there might be the possibility of getting him, I was thrilled," Pastorino said. "I've seen him score some incredible goals."
After playing in every year of MLS's existence, Kreis is among the oldest players in the league. But Kreis said he hardly has lost a step, even with the knee injury he sustained at the end of the 2003 season.
"I really have the feeling that next year is going to be a breakout year for me," Kreis said. Ellinger has known Kreis for a long time, having coached him on the national B-team several years ago.
"I know him as a goal scorer, and he's still scoring goals," Ellinger said. "It's a pleasure to coach him again."
Now that Kreis is on board, the team will turn its attention to Friday's expansion draft. The league released the list of players left unprotected from the draft on Wednesday, and RSL will chose 10 of the available players for its roster.
"It's going to be wide open for us, but we're feeling comfortable going into it," Ellinger said. CD Chivas USA, the league's other expansion team for 2005, will pick first on Friday. RSL will hold an expansion draft event at the SkyBox restaurant at The Gateway at 2 p.m. as Ellinger and Pastorino make the team's selections.
MLS Expansion Draft
Team Name Position Years in MLS Fire Alexandre Boucicaut FW 1 Fire Scott Buete MF 1 Fire D.J. Countess GK 3 Fire Orlando Perez MF 5 Fire Henry Ring GK 3 Fire Dipsy Selolwane FW 3 Fire Evan Whitfield DF 5 Fire Andy Williams MF 7 Rapids Antonio de la Torre DF 1 Rapids Darryl Powell MF 2 Rapids Joey DiGiamarino DF 5 Rapids Jeff Stewart DF 2 Rapids Seth Trembly MF 5 Rapids Scott Vallow GK 3 Crew Nelson Akwari DF 3 Crew Eric Denton M/D 5 Crew Stephen Herdsman DF 4 Crew Matt Jordan GK 6 Crew Manny Lagos MF 6 Crew Brian Maisonneuve MF 9 Crew Erick Scott FW 1 Crew David Testo FW 1 Crew Dante Washington FW 8 Dallas Matt Behncke DF 3 Dallas Scott Garlick GK 8 Dallas Ty Maurin MF 1 Dallas Toni Nhleko FW 2 Dallas Oscar Pareja MF 7 Dallas Philip Salyer DF 2 Wizards Francisco Gomez DF 6 Wizards Tony Meola GK 9 Wizards Preki FW 9 Wizards Igor Simutenkov M/F 3 Wizards Matt Taylor FW 1 Wizards Alex Zotinca DF 2 United Kevin Ara DF 1 United Ezra Hendrickson DF 8 United Tim Lawson DF 1 United Thiago Martins FW 2 United Ryan Nelsen DF 4 United Troy Perkins GK 1 United Eliseo Quintanilla FW 3 United Earnie Stewart MF 2 Galaxy Paul Broome DF 6 Galaxy Dan Popik GK 2 Galaxy Marcelo Saragosa MF 1 Galaxy Arturo Torres FW 2 MetroStars Pablo Brenes MF 1 MetroStars Sergio Galvan Rey FW 1 MetroStars Tim Regan DF 2 MetroStars Joselito Vaca MF 4 MetroStars Jonny Walker GK 2 MetroStars Zach Wells GK 1 MetroStars Craig Ziadie DF 4 Revolution Adin Brown GK 5 Revolution Joey Franchino M/D 7 Revolution Brian Kamler M/D 9 Revolution Steve Howey DF 1 Revolution Carlos Llamosa DF 8 Revolution Joe-Max Moore FW 6 Revolution Rusty Pierce DF 5 Earthquakes Jeff Agoos DF 9 Earthquakes Chris Brown F/M 6 Earthquakes Jon Conway GK 5 Earthquakes Ronnie Ekelund MF 4 Earthquakes Wes Hart DF 5 Earthquakes Chris Roner MF 3 Earthquakes Jamil Walker FW 2