One of the most familiar faces at the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Weekend might also, paradoxically, be one of the least flashy players in the league. Having excelled in MLS since its inception, Jason Kreis has earned a reputation for professionalism and class. He is also the public face of the Dallas Burn, having stayed with the club his entire MLS career after a highly successful stint at Duke University.
This year, though, Kreis, having broken Roy Lassiter's all-time league scoring record, has begun to emerge as one of the more recognizable league faces. The monumental achievement, and the ensuing publicity, helped make Kreis a Commissioner's pick for the All-Star Game.
Kreis justified that decision with a strong performance in Saturday's All-Star Game, hitting a memorable goal in the 89th minute from distance that blazed past East goalkeeper Jon Busch and into the upper corner.
It marked Kreis' seventh All-Star selection with a flourish and, over the years, he has learned to appreciate the midseason event.
"I think its a good thing, to bring everybody together and have a little bit of a celebration," said Kreis. "It's always been a lot of fun to take part in. Nobody takes them too seriously and I think that's a good thing. After a pretty hard half of a season, it's nice to get together and have fun and remember that this game really is about having fun."
While some All-Stars might prefer to be at home, enjoying a weekend off like their teammates, Kreis wouldn't want to trade places.
"There is some jealousy in that ... but we also get a free weekend here, away from things," he said. "[It's] a free weekend with my wife, away from the kids, so there's positives about being here!"
Kreis has made many special memories at past All-Star games.
"It's always a joy to be a part of," he said. "Over the past years I can remember having some of my finest times on a soccer field, with players like Carlos Valderrama, Marco Etheverry and Mauricio Cienfuegos providing [me] passes. It's a fun occasion."
He is also optimistic about the second-half potential of the resurgent Burn.
"One thing about this league, I believe, is that all teams, when they put things together and go on a run, can compete for a championship," he said. "There's been mediocre teams in this league that have won and contended for championships just because they're very professional and they all work for each other. I think Dallas definitely has a chance this year."
One of Kreis' biggest disappointments has been his limited exposure with the U.S. national team despite being one of MLS's most consistent goalscorers.
"It's a matter of timing," he said philosophically. "It's a matter of me not having one specific thing that you could point to and say, 'Oh, this guy is excellent at this.' I'm not the biggest forward, I'm not the fastest forward [and] I'm not the best at running at players."
But he still holds some hope that the national team staff will give him a chance to shine on the international stage.
"That has been dream one from day one. Never say never," said Kreis. "I think the window is closing, but that's always a question that's better reserved for Bruce Arena. I think that I would excel with excellent players around me. But that's a choice that he has to make."Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.