Like the entire MLS soccer community, Real Salt Lake have been shocked and saddened by the loss of Bobby Rhine this week.
As a former FC Dallas player and play-by-play announcer for the club, Rhine’s presence reached out to every market in the league. Salt Lake is no exception, as two of RSL’s coaches, Jason Kreis and Jeff Cassar, counted Rhine among their closest of friends, having played alongside Rhine when each of them were in Dallas.
"Bobby Rhine was one of the finest individuals I have ever had the sheer pleasure of being around,” said Kreis on Tuesday in a statement released by the club. “I will always remember the joy that he brought to every training session, every game, and every social encounter we ever had. He was truly, truly special.
"He was a talented and passionate soccer player, a man who always looked at life with a bright and positive outlook, and a remarkable family man. All of my thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family. I have lost a dear, dear friend, but we have all lost so much more than that – one of the truly great ones."
Like Kreis, Cassar was also grief-stricken by the news.
“Just in complete shock,” the RSL goalkeeper coach told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “We had just been with Bobby about three weeks earlier. We had went up to Park City, and Jason and I and him went mountain biking. He was doing fantastic. When I got the call from his wife, I was in complete shock.
“He and his wife are the godparents of our children,” explained Cassar. “When my wife and I had our first child, we wanted Bobby and Bevan to be the godparents because they’re incredible people, and we just wanted them to touch our kids' lives if we were not around. We’ve been close friends for a long time.”
Although distance had separated them for a number of years, the bond between Cassar and Rhine remained strong.
“We talked probably about once a week,” Cassar said. “With him, it wasn’t just a soccer friendship, it went way past being just teammates. We were friends – best friends. We’d talk about kids and work and just everything. It wasn’t just about soccer.”
Cassar refused to point to one aspect of Rhine’s life that stood out because he feels that “his whole life is a good story.”
“He was a person that you just wanted to be around," he said. "You could laugh with him – he was an extremely funny person – but then you could have a conversation that had substance. He was the complete package when it came to a friend. … He was an amazing father, an amazing husband, just an all-around solid, solid human being.”