Q&A with RSL forward Jason Kreis
RealSaltLake.com took a few minutes with RSL Captain Jason Kreis to check in on the first half of the team's first year of existence, his pursuit of goal #100 in his MLS career and his thoughts on how things have developed both on and off the field during the first several months for Major League Soccer's newest franchise.
RealSaltLake.com: How does it feel to look back and know that you have been in Major League Soccer for 10 years?
Jason Kreis: Obviously, I'm proud of the accomplishment. From the beginning I always thought that 10 years sounded like a very nice career and it has been so far, but I think that there is more out there for me and hopefully for this team.
RSL: What have the last 10 MLS seasons meant to you personally?
JK: There are a lot of great memories, a lot of accomplishments that I can be proud of and take with me for the rest of my life. In the end, I do have a certain amount of satisfaction and pride of what I have been able to accomplish of the past 10 years. Its not just the goals - it's the hard work, the commitment to building this sport, winning the 1997 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship with Dallas, meeting a ton of great people and being a part of giving this sport, this league a solid footing at the professional level in the United States.
RSL: What does it mean to you to be the League's All-Time Leading Scorer?
JK: It's cool. It not something that I think about too often and it won't be something that I really dwell upon until this show is over. I think it is definitely something that when I am much older, a grandpa, I can really explain to the kids what my career meant and what I put into it, it will be something I can talk about then.
RSL: Did you ever think when you started 10 years ago that you would have scored 90+ goals in 10 MLS seasons?
JK: Actually no, to be honest. I was always a center midfielder growing up and at Duke. I came into the League as a center midfielder and really never put pressure on myself to score goals. I was always more of a set-up man. It has been interesting to see the transition in my game over the past 10 years. Again, it is something that I never would have thought I would have been able to do, to be honest. I guess I've just gone out there and done it.
RSL: Are you putting any pressure on yourself to score the next few goals to get to the century mark?
JK: No pressure whatsoever, to be honest. Obviously with the team's travails over the first part of the season, all of my concentration has been on doing whatever is necessary to make the team better and for a number of games that's involved dropping me back and playing once again at center midfield. Those goals will come and there's no rush on them. They'll come at the right time.
RSL: How far has MLS come in regards to quality of play?
JK: It's come a very long way, but that being said, I want to be sure not to discount the quality of play in the first few years. I really feel that the competition has been good throughout. But the biggest difference for me over the 10 years is that players 12-20 on each team's roster have gotten deeper and deeper. That's where the level of play has gotten better and better, seeing the young guys step in when you're missing starters and having that second tier push for playing time every day in practice.
RSL: How far has MLS come in regards to fans?
JK: The circle is coming back around. In 1996, the fans that came out were outstanding. I think you know that everybody had some of that World Cup buzz from '94, it was only a year and a half gone by. Everybody enjoyed nice crowds and then what you saw was a drop off in the second year. The League has made strides ever since that second year in bringing the fans out. You know obviously I'm in a little bit different situation this year because I'm back to a first-year franchise that has consistent crowds full of knowledgeable fans that have been phenomenal.
RSL: How has it felt to be a part of Real Salt Lake?
JK: Being a part of Real, it has been awesome. The community has just accepted us with open arms and like I've said before, the crowds have been fantastic. You really couldn't ask for anything more as far as support of the community or from the support of the organization because the front office and ownership has been first class as well. What really needs to happen now to put the icing on the cake would be for the team to start playing consistently well, game in, game out.
RSL: What were your expectations coming to Real Salt Lake?
JK: My expectations were realistic for an expansion situation. I knew that it was going to be bit of a growing process and that it was going to take some time to mesh together players. No matter how many good soccer players you have, it still takes time for the players to get it right on the field and I think we've seen that. The other part of that is that I knew there was going to be some growing pains involved with the organization just on the day-to-day basis about what should be expected and what would be needed from the administration. All those things have been dealt with extremely well, but it has all taken time. Realistically, we're doing okay. I think we could be doing a little bit better, but we could also be doing a lot worse. There's a lot of games to be played, and I expect us to make that playoff push late in the season.
RSL: What are some of the highs during the inaugural season?
JK: Obviously, scoring the first goal in the history of the franchise will always be special to me and then the first win at home was an awesome occasion because we had such a fantastic crowd there for us. Then the comeback against L.A. (a 2-1 come-from-behind win on May 14 at home) was really nice and hard fought and really well-deserved by us. Those are the things that I will continue to remember, and hopefully there will be many more moments to look back on fondly.
RSL: What are some of the lows the season?
JK: I would have to say the two games that we lost at home in late May/early June are probably the low points for me. I just really felt like we didn't give the fans what they deserved, we didn't show the fans what they expect to see when they come to a home game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and it's something hopefully that we've learned from and won't happen again this year.