A few months ago Luke Kreamalmeyer was pursuing his passion for soccer in relative anonymity as a student at Bradley University. But things all started to change when he received an invite to participate in the 2005 adidas MLS Player Combine.
He went to the combine a nobody and came out with the distinction of having been named the combine's top player. Then SuperDraft day came and he waited for his name to be called, and he waited and he waited. Finally he was selected by Real Salt Lake with the first pick of the fourth round.
"I was surprised he was there," Real head coach John Ellinger said. "But when he slid to us in the fourth round, we were very happy to take him."
Fast forward three months almost to the day and Kreamalmeyer was making his first professional start in front of more than 25,000 fans in Real's home opener.
"It was just a great feeling to be in front of the home crowd," Kreamalmeyer said of Saturday's game against Colorado.
But how does an unheralded player become a starter in MLS in such a short time?
"I play the way I have always played," said Kreamalmeyer. "The combine gave me some confidence, but I haven't done anything different. It is just hard for a guy from a small college to get noticed."
Kreamalmeyer has grabbed the attention of more than just the Real coaching staff. His teammates gave him the title "Laser Luke" after he showed up in preseason camp with a solid, accurate shot.
In his first start he had his coach's blessing to serve notice to the rest of the league that he is the real deal.
"Coach said to take it and dribble the ball right at them," Kreamalmeyer said.
And that is what Kreamalmeyer did, getting a lot of touches and several good looks at the goal, with perhaps his best chance coming from the top of the box in the 27th minute. Kreamalmeyer was on the receiving end of a Clint Mathis feed and lifted an open shot over the crossbar.
"I thought the defender was closer to me," Kreamalmeyer said. "I could have taken another touch and should have found the back of the net."
But still, not a bad showing for a kid no one knew about just a few months ago.
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.