TAMPA, FLA. - Real Salt Lake FW Jason Kreis found the back of the net in the 21st and 36th minutes to lead RSL to a 2-0 preseason victory over the Columbus Crew under the lights at the First Annual Tom Fitzgerald Soccer Festival at Pepin Stadium on the campus of the University of Tampa.
Earlier in the day, the Festival saw defending MLS Champions D.C. United tally a 3-1 win over the U.S. U-17 National Team, a squad which features Real's #1 overall pick in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft, Nikolas Besagno.
While Besagno represents RSL's future, Major League Soccer's All-Time Leading Scorer, Kreis, presented yet another performance ensuring that RSL's present is full of both optimism and excellence. On a day when U.S. National Team stars Clint Mathis and Eddie Pope took the field for RSL for the first time together, it was 9-year League veteran Kreis that set the tone with his leadership, his work rate and his legendary finishing ability.
"It was great to find the back of the net twice in a game like this," said Kreis. "Offseasons are long, and this had atmosphere under the lights and with the crowd that reminds you what game time is all about. Dipsy set me up nicely on the first one, and the second goal might have been the easiest tap-in ever."
In the game's 21st minute, a Dipsy Selolwane cross from the right side found Kreis streaking forward through the Crew defense, blasting the ball home from 15 yards out past Columbus 'keeper Matt Jordan. Just 15 minutes later, the RSL lead grew to 2-0 when Selolwane again broke down the Crew defense on the right wing and into the box, where his service was neatly tucked inside the far post by Kreis.
With projected starter Evan Whitfield out due to food poisoning and a toe infection, Botswanan National Team FW Selolwane was inserted at right wing by RSL Head Coach John Ellinger, where the leading scorer in African World Cup Qualifying played 72 minutes before giving way to rookie Jamie Watson.
"Dipsy was a bit of an experiment out there, but he's got the speed and the pace to wreak havoc with a defense," said Ellinger. "We definitely put him in a position to succeed with Jason and Clint up top, Andy Williams next to him and Nelson Akwari behind him. I'm very impressed with his play today, and that of all the guys. It was great to get our first win of the preseason this morning against San Jose and to win this one with Tom Fitzgerald on our minds is very special."
|Tonight's lineup was as follows:
GK - Countess (Nolly 46); DF - Behncke, Dunseth, Pope (Lookingland 46), Akwari; MF - Kamler, Brenes (Kreamalmeyer 46), Selolwane (Watson 72), Williams; Kreis, Mathis
Akwari was a late insertion into the starting lineup, filling in for Rusty Pierce at right back, after Pierce tweaked his left groin during pre-game warm-ups. Akwari, who went the full 90 minutes for the third time in four games this preseason, was originally slated to play only the second half of tonight's game, filling in for Pope, who arrived in Bradenton after midnight last night, even enduring the aggravation of having the airlines temporarily misplace his baggage. Pope, who spent 36 hours house-hunting in Salt Lake City between his 90-minute performance for the U.S. National Team in its 2-1 World Cup Qualifying win on Wednesday against Trinidad and his arrival last night, will spend the next 5 days with RSL before returning to U.S. camp in preparation of the World Cup Qualifier against Mexico on March 27.
In recognition of RSL rookie Luke Kreamalmeyer's MVP performance at the 2005 MLS Combine, held January 9-13 at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, Debi Fitzgerald presented the first-ever edition of the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Trophy. The pregame ceremony recognized the Bradley University product, selected by Real Salt Lake in the fourth round of the 2005 MLS SuperDraft.