Welcome to the very first installment of Jamie's Journal! My name is Jamie Watson, and I am a rookie this year (13th pick overall in the 2005 SuperDraft) on the newest and best addition to Major League Soccer, Real Salt Lake.
I went to the University of North Carolina for a year and a half and I am originally from a suburb of Dallas, Texas called Coppell. This year I'm the young guy on the team at age 18 and because Nikolas Besagno, the number 1 draft pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft (age 16) hasn't been in camp yet, I have taken on full rookie responsibility in what seems to be a long list of "rookie initiations." This includes carrying what seems to be about 50 water bottles and countless other bags to training and games, as well as picking up gear before practice and turning in the veterans gear after practices. (Shout outs to Clint Mathis, Jason Kreis, DJ Countess, and Eddie Pope, thanks guys for letting me do that for you guys!)
Over the next few weeks I am going to be bringing you, the fans, the inside info on what goes down day-to-day as the newly established Real Salt Lake embarks on the journey toward opening day in New York on April 2. So make sure to check back daily to Jamie's Journal for all the latest behind the scenes info on Real Salt Lake.
Getting to know Coach Ellinger...
You guys and gals may be wondering who has been the mastermind behind all the wheeling and dealing this offseason that has brought successful player after successful player into this organization and put Real Salt Lake in serious contention for the 2005 MLS Cup.
Well, this man's name is John Ellinger, or "Coach E" as I like to call him. Coach E has had a tremendous amount of success in his coaching career that has seen him move from the college ranks to the professional ranks where he worked with the late Mr. Tom Fitzgerald as an assistant with the Columbus Crew in 1996. Most recently, Coach Ellinger is the reason that the Under-17 residency program at the IMG academy in Bradenton, FL is what it is today. Without his hard work and his love for the game, so many of the young successful American players would not be where they are today.
His resume includes the likes of Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, and Eddie Johnson, all of whom are now contributing to the efforts of the U.S. men's national team as they try to qualify for the World Cup. This list of players that have developed under his guidance goes on and on, and that list even hits home to Real Salt Lake as several of the guys in camp now have played for Coach E at some point in their career. This includes Nelson Akwari, Nikolas Besagno, DJ Countess, Brian Dunseth, Clint Mathis, and myself included as I recently graduated from the last U-17 Residency program that coach E coached. Coach E has a wife, Tami and 2 daughters Leigh (15) and Brooke (12). We are very lucky to have coach Ellinger leading us in the right direction and if you ask any one of us if were glad to have him, the answer is a unanimous yes.
Getting you up to date...
There have been many firsts since this preseason has started. We had our first practice together on Feb 2; we had our first game Feb. 8 vs. D.C. United, which ended with a 5-1 defeat; we had our first ever goal scored by Luke Kreamalmeyer (that will be a trivia question one day so don't forget that one) that day; we had our first tie vs. the U-17 national team on Feb. 10; we had OUR FIRST EVER WIN vs. San Jose on Feb. 13; then we followed the first ever win with another win on the same day in the first ever Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Soccer Festival vs. the Columbus Crew by a convincing 2-0 score line behind 2 Jason Kreis goals. Amidst all of these firsts have been several two-a-day training sessions where we have started taking form as a team and started learning what it's going to take to earn ourselves a championship this season. A lot of friendships are also forming and guys from all walks of life are getting a chance to know one another better and it's been a lot of fun being around such a great group of guys.
Feature Player of the Day ...
During each installment of Jamie's Journal, I will be introducing a new player to you so that you can get to know these guys and some of the things that make these guys so interesting. Today's feature player of the day is none other than the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Jason Kreis. Jason has been in the league from day one and is now the all-time leading goal-scorer with 91 goals. One little known fact about Mr. Kreis is that he was the third player ever signed by MLS back in 1995 out of the Duke University. Jason is respected by many around the league for being a class act on and off the field for his genuine character and overall nice personality. Jason has a wife, Kimberly, and two sons, Jake (2) and Kason (5). He has been extremely nice to let me stay with him and our starting goalkeeper Delvin (DJ) Countess in their room as their "roomie" and learn the ropes as the young gun on the team. It's not every day that two well established guys in the league let a rook hang with them, so I'm enjoying my time with my new boys!
Few may know this, but Jason and I actually met years ago, and he probably doesn't even remember it happening! We met probably about 3 years ago after a Dallas Burn home game that I was able to score some VIP passes for and enter the locker room after the game. Well much to my surprise, I was introduced to Jason and was star struck when I actually met him. After a moment of speechlessness, I pulled myself together, got out my Sharpie and had him sign my ticket stub.
To this day, that remains my last autograph I have ever collected from a professional athlete and it still hangs on my wall at my home in Texas. Thanks J for the collectable! So other than being "Mr. MLS," as I like to refer to him, he is a nice guy away from the game.
Another interesting thing about Jason is that he likes to dabble in the field of woodworking from time to time. He is a wizard of the woodwork and can make just about anything from end tables to kitchen tables; you name it, he's built it. As far as any dirt on Jason that I can share without getting myself into trouble with him, Jason likes to pass all of his chores off on me around the room just so he doesn't have to vacuum or take out the trash or wash dishes and he likes to complain a lot to DJ when he sees any of his - I mean my - chores aren't done yet. Other than that Jason is a class act and is the perfect guy to be the first ever feature player of the week in the Jamie's Journal. Stay tuned for more features on several other players in the next weeks to come.
Having some fun with numbers...
· 29: Number of guys in Real Salt Lake camp for preseason
· 2-1-1: Real Salt Lake's record during preseason training
· 2: More games left in Bradenton for Real Salt Lake
· 8: Number of MLS teams training in Bradenton for preseason
That's all I have for you for now. Make sure to check out www.realsaltlake.com and www.mlsnet.com daily for updates and all the latest official releases coming at you 7 days a week. Until next time, you stay classy Real Salt Lake fans!