There are a lot of different ways to describe a goal scorer. Usually, they are not the most flattering terms. Usually, they're somewhere along the lines of arrogant, difficult, selfish, and sometimes, just plain lucky. But after nine years and 88 goals, I don't think any of those terms fly when you're talking about the Dallas Burn's Jason Kreis.
Kreis is not your typical striker. In fact, he is sometimes listed as a midfielder. But the bottom line is he is a weapon. His ability to score goals in different ways is what separates him from the rest and makes him such a threat (even though 20 percent of his goals have come from free kicks and penalties). This is the guy Dallas wants shooting when it comes right down to it.
I guess you could call Kreis the ultimate MLS success story. Here's a guy who came out of college right when the league was starting. He had bleached blonde hair and a very unassuming demeanor, and he picked No. 9 because it was his favorite number. No one else in Dallas has had the chance to be No. 9 since.
It is inevitable that he will surpass Roy Lassiter as the all-time scorer in Major League Soccer, mainly because he just outright deserves it. He's got an MVP trophy, and he won the Open Cup. I remember a couple of years back when it was announced that Kreis would be making the league maximum. I remember what a great step it was for this league to see a college player make the transition, take his $30,000 salary and not complain, let his agent do the rest when it was time to negotiate, stay loyal to his club, and get the maximum salary. The reason why I remember it is because usually other players complain when someone's making more money than them. I don't remember one person complaining about Jason Kreis making that much money because, again, he deserved it.
If you could pick your teammates, I think a lot of guys in this league would put Kreis very high on their list. It's kind of like when you go golfing with two buddies and you get stuck with a fourth guy. You hope it's Jason Kreis. He's the guy you'd want to pick to be your neighbor or the guy who sits next to you on a six-and-a-half hour flight. Kreis has what I would call a kindness about him that you just don't see in most players. He's a good leader. He's a hard worker. And he's a good teammate. I've played with him. He doesn't complain about the way things should be or the way things are. He just comes to work and does his job and does it well.
The irony is that kindness has turned out to be one of his greatest assets. Because he's such a nice guy, most opponents don't really think twice about Jason Kreis. That kind of attitude usually costs them a goal. He epitomizes the phrase, "killing with kindness."
What impresses me most about Jason is that he has been one of the most consistent goal-scorers this league has seen. He continues to score goals in different ways, as seen with his goal last week against Colorado. (You don't always have to crush the ball. Finesse works sometimes, too.) Just when you've got Kreis figured out, there's another layer. Maybe that's why he's still going.
In this week's game, Kreis will have his opportunity against D.C. United at home in Dallas to score a goal and make him officially the greatest goal scorer in MLS history. A little advice to the D.C. defenders: Maybe you should think twice before fouling anybody 20-25 yards out, unless, of course, you're not in the wall.
Also on Saturday, The Freddy Show makes its first trip to Dallas, although it looks as if D.C. United will be riding the good form of their other left-footed forward, Alecko Eskandarian. His two goals against Columbus last weekend were pure class. Head coach Peter Nowak must be hoping that he doesn't have to wait 10 games for him to hit again.
I think this game in general has the potential to be high scoring. It's a big field. There's plenty of space to run. If the weather cooperates and there's a good crowd, we might finally see a good ESPN2 game in Dallas with no visible blue and white seats. Both teams are in a similar spot in the standings, and it's a pivotal game, more so for D.C. than Dallas. With all that being said, hopefully it will be a game to remember.
Finally, I want to make a quick note of congratulations to Earnie Stewart on receiving his 100th national team cap in the U.S.A's 3-2 victory over Grenada Sunday. If anybody was questioning why Bruce Arena put him on the squad, I think his assist validated his inclusion.
Catch Eric Wynalda this weekend as the analyst on RadioShack Soccer Saturday on ESPN2. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.