Chapter Three: Extra drive

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Jason Kreis pushed himself to be the best player he could be, shooting a bag of balls well past more than one sunset and into the night. While other kids ate dinner, Kreis perfected his shot. Kreis scored the first goal for the Dallas Burn during the inaugural season of MLS in 1996. His play improved every year and he became the first American-born player to earn the MLS MVP honor when he scored 18 goals and registered 15 assists for the Burn in 1999. When Kreis arrived at Real Salt Lake, he scored the first goal for that franchise too. He eventually became the head coach.

“When we look at potential players,” coach Kreis explained. “We want to watch them train with their teams so we can see their natural work habits.”

One key player for Kreis, Kyle Beckerman, credited Carlos Valderrama for helping him develop good training habits as a young professional. Beckerman joined the Colorado Rapids in 2002 and worked with “El Pibe” every day.

“He’s one of the guys,” Beckerman recalled. “I was lucky to play with a lot of great players in Colorado, Miami, and Salt Lake. I always tried to soak up as much as I could. He was an amazing passer with amazing vision. To see him train day in and day out was very important for my development. It was the way he focused, the way he dressed, the way he conducted himself with the media, and every day in practice. When guys mouthed off, he didn’t take it lightly and made sure he put them in their place.”