my wife and I are going to come here next week -- and do a little more house shopping and a little more just looking at the areas that Salt Lake has to offer.
MLSnet.com: You mentioned a little while ago your mixed feelings about leaving Dallas, coming to Salt Lake City. Are you disappointed to be leaving Dallas as much as you are excited to be going to Salt Lake?
JK: Yeah, I think it's pretty fair. It's a pretty fair mix of emotions. I'm obviously disappointed to be leaving Dallas for a lot of personal reasons, leaving a lot of friends and leaving just a lot of good situations and a very nice house that we had built in a very nice area. Things were easy there, but having said that, I think it was time for me to make a change and time for me to challenge myself a little bit going into what probably will be the latter stages of my career. I'm really looking forward to this new challenge, and I'm going to take it head-on.
MLSnet.com: What do you think of the coincidence that you were the last original Burn player with the club (for all nine years of the team), and now you're moving on as the team changes its name and moves into a new stadium. Is that kind of interesting to you?
JK: Yeah, I wonder a little bit whether that is 100 percent a coincidence.
MLSnet.com: John Ellinger and Steve Pastorino are saying you're the first guy that Real Salt Lake has acquired, and you're kind of going to be an icon for them. How do you think things will change being an icon for Real Salt Lake as opposed to being an icon for the Dallas Burn?
JK: Well, I mean, obviously it's a role I feel pretty comfortable in. It's not something that I am going to run out and say I agree, that I have been the icon for Dallas. It's not something that I ever relished the opportunity to do. Being a star, being an icon on a team is something that I think is put upon you by others. It's not something that I look to achieve or feel like I have to have. I obviously want to be a little bit of a leader here. I obviously know that there is going to be quite a few young players, and that will be a challenge for me, as well, to bring those young players along. It's a new franchise, and I've been with a new franchise in 1996 in Dallas, so I know some of the growing pains that are going to take place, and I hope to lend a helping hand in making those things as small as possible.
MLSnet.com: Building on that a little bit, how similar do you think going to Real Salt Lake, an expansion team, is going to be to starting the league back in 1996?
JK: I think it'll be similar in some ways, but in others, I mean, Real has 10 models out there that have been there for a long time to model themselves after and sort of pick and choose which franchises they want to model after and maybe some that they don't a little bit, take the good and leave the bad of others. So, I think that in that respect it will be a lot easier. I'm hoping that the excitement and all of the fanfare that surrounded the league and Dallas, in particular, in the first year, is something that translates very well, and I hope that we see that, a lot of that, in Salt Lake next year.
MLSnet.com: What is priority No. 1 for you in Real Salt Lake, both personally and in reference to the team as a whole?
JK: Priority No. 1 for me will be getting myself 100 percent fully fit. I mean, last year, I really struggled with injury a lot more than I probably would have ever given credit to during the year. But looking back on it, I know that it had to be a transition year for me. It was going to be a year in which I had to transition from being injured to being fully fit, and I think I was getting that done towards the end of the year. So, for me, it's about proving myself again. There's no doubt in my mind that I want to and I'm quite capable of proving myself in this league again.
MLSnet.com: What about the team? What are your goals for the club as a whole?
JK: I think the goal for this club should be the same as anything other club. It doesn't matter whether it's an expansion team or a team that's been here for nine years. One's to get to the playoffs. Once you're in the playoffs, anything can happen, and obviously the goal for all of us is a championship or U.S. Open Cup as well.
MLSnet.com: In Friday's expansion draft, are you rooting for anyone in particular to be picked by the club, particularly, maybe a forward you'd like to play alongside?
JK: No. To be honest ... I just saw the list very briefly this morning. It's not something that I've paid a great deal of attention to, and to be completely honest, I have a tremendous amount of faith in what coach Ellinger's going to do and who he's going to pick. I plan on just putting all my faith in him this year, and really not worrying about anything else.
MLSnet.com: Tell me a little bit more about coach Ellinger. How familiar are you with him, and how do you think things will go under him in his first stint as a head coach in the league?
JK: I played with him, like I said. When I was in college, I was called up to five, six, seven, eight, something like that, national 'B' team camps and was fortunate enough to work under him and just got a really good sense of how he was, not only as a coach, but as a man. In the times that I've seen him since then, I've always just felt very good about being around him. I think he's a true gentleman. I believe good things happen to good people, and good things happen for good people, so I think good things are definitely in order for him.
MLSnet.com: You mentioned a minute ago that you feel you're entering the final stages of your career. How long do you plan to play? Is Real Salt Lake the final phase of your career or is it just another phase?
JK: I'll turn 32 in December. I've always said that I would continue to play as long as it was fun for me and as long as somebody valued me. Obviously, with Real making this trade for me, they obviously value me. They've made it quite clear to me that they value me. And I'm still having a whole lot of fun doing what I'm doing, so I can't really see an end. I would never put an exact date or exact figure on how many years I have left.
MLSnet.com: So then should we bet money on you reaching 100 goals?
JK: I would stake the house on it.
MLSnet.com: What kind of message would you have for fans of FC Dallas as you leave there, and conversely, what kind of message would you have for incoming Real Salt Lake fans as you arrive there?
JK: Like I said, emotional things are the things that are difficult to leave in Dallas. I feel very emotionally tied to the fans there. In the end, this will be a difficult move and a difficult transition in that respect. I have a lot of respect for and I think a decent amount of respect from the fans in Dallas. So, I will miss them. To the fans in Salt Lake City, I would say that I've got plans on big things to come for myself, and I know that I'm a passionate person who puts my heart and soul into every practice and every game, and I'll continue to do that here in Salt Lake.
MLSnet.com: Are you looking forward to that first game back in Dallas next year, whenever it is?
JK: No question. No question.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.