Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The Coach and The Cup
Kreis honored, number retired after RSL Independence Day match
(by Kira Terry ksl.com 7-5-11)
Following a 3-3 draw with MLS opponent the New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis was honored and his No. 9 RSL number was retired.
"He was the first of so many things for our franchise," said RSL Founder Dave Checketts following the match. "He was the first player we ever signed, he scored the first goal, he was the first in the history of the league to score 100 goals and after he had done all that, we asked Jason to abruptly to hang up his boots and to become our new head coach where he quickly demonstrated the will and drive to allow us as a group, as a family, to accomplish further firsts for RSL - our first playoff birth, our first MLS Cup title, and the first professional championship in Utah for 40 years."
With the fans cheering loudly, Checkets continued saying, "We also were the first MLS team to win a CONCACAF group. And I know we believe we're going to get back there and be the first to win the CONCACAF championship."
An emotional Kreis stepped to the podium and before giving thanks to fans, family and many others who have helped him along his journey with RSL, asked fans to stay standing and give a round of applause for the "unbelievable fight" they put up during that game.
Following his comments, Kreis' RSL number was retired and his name and number are now posted above the west side stands within their Fortress, Rio Tinto Stadium.
In their beginnings, RSL owner Dave Checketts chose Kreis as the first player for RSL on Nov. 17, 2004. Kreis retired from RSL and turned in his captain armband to step up as the second head coach of RSL on May 3, 2007 making him the youngest head coach in MLS history at just 34 years and 127 days old.
Kreis finished his professional soccer career with 108 career goals making him the all-time leading scorer for MLS.
Kreis has led RSL to their first ever MLS Cup title in 2009 and then in 2010 led RSL to become the first-ever MLS team to win a CONCACAF group.
Kreis told the media following the presentation and firework celebration that stepping back out onto that field to accept the honor of his number being retired was a difficult thing, because of the draw and frustrating moments and calls within the game, but was just proud of his roster.
"It was a wild and crazy game, said Kreis." "My take away from the match is that I'm really, really, really proud of our guys. I just couldn't be prouder of the fight that they put in to suffer a penalty kick and a red card decision in the first five minutes of the match, to go down two goals and a man and to fight the way they were and to be dominating the game when they were down in that situation was remarkable to say the least."
Kreis was also happier with this result than what could have happened on their home field. "We did manage a draw, which is better than losing at home. I have so much pride in the guys, a lot of anger about some other stuff, but a lot of pride in the guys."
RSL's goals were scored by midfielder Will Johnson (24th), forward Alvaro Saborio (56th) and forward Fabian Espindola (83rd).
RSL will remain at home this weekend as they host FC Dallas on Saturday.
I'm happy to say I was the first fan to welcome Jason Kreis to Salt Lake.
Back in those days I had plenty of free time on my hands and I practically lived on BigSoccer.
Anyway, it turns out the day the announcement came out that they RSL's first player would be presented at the offices across from Trolley Square a post was put up on BigSoccer to try and get some fans there. I posted that I could make it after work (or maybe I was just going to skip out of work perhaps) and that I would represent the Loyalists if nobody else could make it.
Turns out there were three of us that made it, myself "The Cup", Jules "Lizzie Bee", and Eric "Deuce". I was one of the first ones there so I grabbed a front row seat. Out came Kreis, the press snapped pictures, some words were spoken, and all was well.
RSL was off to a great start.
So after the news conference was over I made my way over to Jules and Eric and we started talking. Kreis was shaking hands with the suits, etc. Once all of them had welcomed him I said to Jules and Eric something to the affect, "What should we do? Can we just go up and talk to him?"
They answered with a, "I guess so."
I responded with a, "Oh hell, I'm just going to go talk to him."
So I did. I made my way up to him, shook his hand, welcomed him to Salt Lake and told him that we already had a supporters group going.
Jules and Eric followed and we all had a good chat. Jules was the only one with a camera so I asked her to take a picture of us and as you can see in the above photo history was made. "The Cup meets the Coach".
Anyway, those were good times and I'd like to think I have some distinction as the first RSL fan to welcome Kreis to his new home.