Jason Kreis became the first player in Real Salt Lake history Wednesday as the expansion club announced it has acquired Major League Soccer's all-time leading goal scorer from FC Dallas in exchange for future considerations.
The trade, which RSL general manager Steve Pastorino said does not include 2005 MLS SuperDraft picks, comes two days before the club stocks its roster through the MLS Expansion Draft.
"My family and I are very grateful for the opportunity to continue my career in the beautiful state of Utah and help Real Salt Lake fulfill its vision of becoming a world-class organization on and off the field," Kreis said. "The confidence that head coach John Ellinger has in me and the organization's desire to make me Real Salt Lake's inaugural player is inspiring."
Kreis, who played the previous nine years with the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas), has steadily become the most prolific scorer in league history, breaking Roy Lassiter's record of 88 goals on June 26 in a 1-1 tie with D.C. United. Kreis tallied twice more during the 2004 campaign, finishing the season with 91 career goals. The Omaha, Neb. native also holds the MLS record for game-winning goals (28) and ranks among the top five in games (247), starts (227), minutes (20,290), points (247), shots (686) and shots on goal (313).
By joining RSL, Kreis will become just the sixth former Most Valuable Player in any U.S. team sport to later play for an expansion team in its first year. He will also become the symbol of a second MLS franchise, having been the face of the Dallas Burn for the past nine years.
"I will depend heavily on Jason to help me build the character and spirit of this team," Ellinger said. "His experience, his professionalism and obviously his ability to put the ball in the back of the net will be keys to our performance and to our personality as we build this world-class organization."
Kreis's success over the years has mirrored that of the Burn. After being drafted in the fifth round (43rd overall) of the 1996 MLS Draft out of Duke University, Kreis immediately asserted himself as the team's leader, notching the first goal in team history on April 18, 1996, and setting the pace for the club with 13 goals and 31 points during the league's inaugural season.
In five of nine years with the team, Kreis led the club in scoring, including in 1999, when he was named the MLS MVP after tallying 18 goals and 15 assists for 51 points. That season, Kreis became the first player in league history to register 15 goals and 15 assists in the same season and just the fourth to total 50 points in one campaign. Kreis also led the club to its only trophy, the 1997 U.S. Open Cup.
"We sat down with Jason, like we do with all our players following the season, and discussed our expectations for 2005," said Dallas GM Greg Elliott. "We had a very healthy discussion and Jason again expressed his belief that he is a starter in this league. We've been on the record saying that we planned to get a strike partner for Eddie [Johnson] and give us more production than we got out of that position last season.
"Jason felt like he was that guy, but during the course of our discussions Jason and his representatives were exploring options they may have. When Salt Lake came to us and informed us that they were prepared to make a move on Jason and guarantee him the minutes and the compensation that he felt like he deserved, it was a relatively simple decision to accommodate that request for him."
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.