Coaching & Technical Staff
Salvador Pérez - Player Liaison
Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis traded in his record-setting boots and captain’s armband on May 3, 2007 to become the organization’s second head coach, overhauling a previously moribund locker room to become just two seasons later the youngest Cup-winning coach in MLS history, guiding RSL to the title in 2009. Under his watch, RSL has also advanced to three of the last four Conference Finals, become the first American side to win a CONCACAF Champions League group and the first U.S. team to advance to the CCL Finals.
With back-to-back 15-win MLS seasons in 2010 and 2011, Kreis’ teams have earned points in two out of every three matches they play, as the intense, demanding leader now owns an all-time 72-64-52 mark as a head coach, breaking down as follows: MLS regular-season (57-50-43), CONCACAF Champions League (6-3-3), MLS Cup Playoff (4-4-4), Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2-5-1) and international friendlies (3-2-1).
Kreis – who retired as Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer with 108 career goals on that fateful early May day in 2007 – was honored by the club last Summer in a special Independence Day ceremony following its come-from-behind, short-handed 3-3 draw against the New England Revolution at Rio Tinto Stadium, as the organization retired the iconic jersey #9 worn by the Omaha, Neb., native as a player for the Claret-and-Cobalt from 2005-07.
“As I’ve said many times in the nearly seven years since he became the face of our franchise, Jason continues to fit the profile of every great leader I have worked with throughout my career,” said RSL Founder Dave Checketts. “Not only is he one of the best young coaches in MLS, he’s one of the best – period. We are thrilled not just for what he has done to revive, solidify and inspire the RSL family, but to have him continue to blaze new trails for the sport in our community for a very long time.”
Despite the unorthodox nature of a number retirement in soccer circles, Checketts was insistent that the ceremony is the appropriate gesture for someone who has contributed so much to Real Salt Lake.
“It will be a great day … when we officially recognize Jason for his contributions to the Real Salt Lake club,” said Checketts. “We understand that retiring a player’s number is unprecedented, according to soccer protocol. While we have great respect for the game, we seek to honor an exceptional player and coach for our organization. Jason was the first player signed at Real Salt Lake, he established and broke significantMLS records while wearing our uniform and has provided exceptional leadership both on and off the field. In my mind, no one at RSL should ever wear #9 again.”
Kreis became the first player in Real Salt Lake history on November 17, 2004, when the then-nine-year MLS veteran was acquired from FC Dallas in exchange for future considerations. He has the unique distinction of scoring the first-ever goals in two MLS team histories, firing the inaugural strike for both RSL and the Dallas Burn. Interestingly, career strikes #1 and #100 shared a common opponent – the Kansas City Wizards, also the victim of Kreis’ lone career MLS hat trick on March 20, 1999. Until the heroics of former RSL striker Robbie Findley in the 2009 home opener, Kreis was the lone RSL player ever to notch three goals in one game, albeit in a 4-6 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup loss at Minnesota in 2005.
Kreis, an American soccer icon and Major League Soccer pioneer, was the first American-born player in MLS history to earn MVP honors (Kreis remains one of just three U.S.-born MVPs in 16 MLS seasons), capturing the 1999 award after leading Dallas in goals (18) and assists (15), a stellar campaign which marked the first-ever “15-15” season in League annals. Coming through in the clutch was a Kreis trademark, with an astounding 31 of his 108 career goals counting as game-winners. Despite being retired for more than four years, the Duke graduate still ranks among the top 20 MLS career leaders in games played (305), starts (282), minutes (25,242), shots (818) and shots on goal (370).
All told, 17 of Kreis 108 goals were scored for Real Salt Lake, for which the Mandeville (La.) High School star played the final 58 games of his stellar professional career. Goal number 100 came on August 13, 2005, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, celebrated by Kreis’ trademark round-off back-flip, making him the first player in MLS to reach the century mark.
Kreis abruptly retired with 108 career goals to his credit, becoming just the eighth person in the history of the five major U.S. sports leagues to serve as a head coach while holding his league’s career scoring record (and only the third athlete in the post-World War II era). The first MLS player to break the century mark in goals scored, Mr. Kreis’ 108 total goals scored still ranks fifth behind Jeff Cunningham (134), Jaime Moreno (133), Landon Donovan (115) and Ante Razov (114) heading into the 2012 season.
“Audentis Fortuna Juvat” – Fortune Favors the Bold
Kreis became the second head coach in Real Salt Lake history on May 3, 2007, when Checketts tabbed Kreis to seize the reins of Utah’s Division I professional soccer team and reverse its on-field misfortunes. The Duke University product was the eleventh ex-MLS player (not including interim stints) to take over a League side, and is currently one of 13 head coaches in the League to make the switch from an MLS pitch to the sideline.
At the time of his hire, Mr. Kreis became the youngest active head coach in MLS at 34 years and 127 days of age. Kreis works closely with former Blue Devil and Dallas Burn teammate and current RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey regarding player acquisitions, scouting, the MLS Draft and all player personnel-related matters. The Kreis-Lagerwey partnership has resulted in the implementation of a culture where players, staff and fans work as one for the RSL shield, epitomizing a “Team is the Star” attitude. Kreis, Lagerwey and the team’s coaching staff – Jeff Cassar, Miles Joseph and C.J. Brown – compose the lone technical staff among MLS’ 18 teams comprised entirely of ex-MLS players. This distinction means that the RSL braintrust now boasts cumulative MLS experience of 74,811 total minutes, covering 923 games and including 128 goals and 22 shutouts (the equivalent of nearly 30 complete seasons of service). The RSL staff has the unparalleled ability to tap into personal experience as it guides, assists and develops current RSL players.
“Jason has been a massive part of who we are as an organization, both from his days as a player and now as a coach, and he is incredibly worthy of enjoying this honor,” said Lagerwey. “As an organization that is still young it is important that we establish traditions, and to have Real Salt Lake be forever associated with Jason Kreis is a fitting place to start.”
In 2009, RSL finished the regular season with an 11-12-5 mark, earning the final MLS Cup Playoff spot on the last day of the season with a complete and dominating 3-0 win over rival Colorado. Kreis became the youngest Championship-winning manager in MLS’ first 15 years when his Real Salt Lake team won six of its final seven regular-season and postseason games, including a dramatic penalty-kick win over a star-studded Los Angeles team in MLS Cup 2009. Just as in the year before, RSL played its best when the pressure was highest, reeling off four consecutive postseason wins to bring the State of Utah its first major league professional title in nearly 40 years.
The 2010 squad dropped just five games across eight months in all competitions, yet were sent home unceremoniously in the first round of the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs by finalist FC Dallas – the organization for whom Kreis toiled from 1996-2004. While RSL did not repeat in 2010 – something that has happened just twice in the 16 years of MLS – Kreis’ organization and leadership, drive and determination inspired Real Salt Lake (15-4-11, 56 points, Supporters’ Shield runners-up) to a nearly unprecedented run, amassing 64 points in 30 games combined – the equivalent of an MLS season – from May 1 to Oct. 19 in both MLS and CCL play, a points haul equal to the 3rd-best run EVER by an MLS team (Los Angeles – 70 pts – Sept. 7, 1997 to Aug. 8, 1998; Los Angeles – 66 pts – June 28, 2009 to June 26, 2010).
Kreis led the 2010 RSL side to become the first-ever MLS team (and one of just three non-Mexican teams) to win a CONCACAF group, posting a 4-1-1 mark and advancing to the final stage in 2011, where RSL succumbed 3-2 on aggregate to Mexican power Monterrey. The former striker’s side was also the 2nd highest-scoring team in CONCACAF’s group stage, with 17 goals in six games (2.83 goals/game). In MLS play, the following milestones established new league standards, as the 2010 RSL squad set new all-time MLS standards in these categories: fewest goals allowed (20), overall goal differential (+25), total home points (37), fewest home losses (0) and fewest home goals allowed (7). In addition to those league marks, the 2010 edition of the Claret-and-Cobalt set RSL franchise records in wins (15 – equaled in 2011), goals (45), scoring output (1.50/game), points (56), shutouts (15), road points (19) and road goal differential (+1).
“It is imperative that the competitive side of our organization maintain continuity and build off of recent season’s success,” said RSL President Bill Manning in January, 2011, when announcing the extension of Kreis’ contract through the end of 2013 season. “The dedication, work ethic and commitment to excel on the team side have been exemplary under Jason’s direction, and I felt it was important to secure the future of our coaching staff before going long into the last year of his current deal. We could not be more pleased as an organization that Jason will continue to guide our team on the field.”
Intense and passionate, Mr. Kreis went 6-13-7 (25 points) during the partial 2007 season, enduring an expectedly steep learning curve before steadying his squad to a 4-4-3 finish down the stretch, a sign of things to come. In his first full season at the helm in 2008, Kreis led Real Salt Lake to its first-ever playoff berth on the heels of a 10-10-10 (40 points) regular season, a turnaround for which Kreis was rewarded with a three-year contract extension through the 2011 MLS season. Just days prior to the team’s 2011 home opener in late March, Kreis’ deal was extended another two seasons, through 2013.
The 2008 campaign reflected the results of an extensive team overhaul, which saw the team mold 21 new faces – added since the final half of the 2007 season – into a competitive unit. The landmark 2008 season under Kreis’ direction saw Real Salt Lake open the state-of-the-art Rio Tinto Stadium, dramatically qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs in the final minute of the year and defeat the higher-seeded Chivas USA in the West Semifinals before ultimately bowing to the New York Red Bulls one step shy of MLS Cup, all resulting in the most successful and competitive campaign in Real Salt Lake’s four-season history both on and off the field, prior to the Cup win one year later.
Onwards & Upwards
“Jason is a hard-working, dedicated over-achiever who refuses to accept anything less than maximum effort from everyone around him,” said a prescient Checketts back in May, 2007, upon Kreis’ move from RSL Captain to Head Coach. “And while we have made great strides thus far under his leadership, I know we are bound for unprecedented heights, and I know that Jason is the right person to help guide our team’s ascent.”
Kreis, an avid woodworker, oenophile and golfer with a voracious appetite for reading, resides in Park City, Utah, with his wife, Kimberly, and two sons.
“When I was hired nearly five years ago, I stated that it was time for action, that I was embracing a complete and utter challenge, undertaking tremendous responsibility,” said Kreis upon inking a contract extension earlier this year. “We have enjoyed some success here now at Real Salt Lake and the entire organization – players, coaches, staff, ownership, management and most importantly, the fans – believes, as I do, that ‘The Team is the Star.’ Everyone involved in establishing and raising our expectations continues to work towards earning championships, and no one takes that responsibility lightly. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue in this great endeavor.”
Former Major League Soccer goalkeeper Jeff Cassar joined the Real Salt Lake technical staff on May 24, 2007, exactly three weeks after his former teammate Jason Kreis assumed the head coaching duties for Real Salt Lake.
Under Cassar and the entire RSL Technical Staff, goalkeeping and defensive performances at Real Salt Lake have established new standards for Major League Soccer. The 2010 season was a record-setting campaign, as the RSL goalkeeping contingent of Nick Rimando and Kyle Reynish allowed just 20 goals across 30 league games –surpassing the previous low of 23 season matches. Rimando was recognized as an MLS All-Star for his work with Cassar, and was one of three finalists for 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Reynish shone well for a young player in his limited Open Cup, regular-season and CONCACAF action spelling Rimando, a testamentto the manner in which Cassar’s experience deftly guides netminders at various career stages.
Mr. Cassar, 38, has been involved in Major League Soccer since the league’s inception in 1996, spending 11 seasons between the posts for three squads from 1996-2006 before retiring to become FC Dallas’s goalkeeper coach in January 2007. During his career with Dallas (1996-97, 2003-06), Miami Fusion FC (1998-2001), and the MetroStars (2002), Cassar made 79 appearances (76 starts), posting a 1.76 goals against average, a 28-36-10 record, and recording 13 shutouts. Prior to his entry into the college and professional ranks, the Michigan native appeared numerous times for the U.S. U-18, U-20, and Olympic National Team programs.
Mr. Cassar also appeared in five MLS Cup Playoff contests while with the Fusion and helped a pair of squads – the 2000 Fusion and 2005 FC Dallas teams – reach the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. In addition to his MLS experience, Mr. Cassar also spent time with English sides Ipswich Town and Bolton Wanderers following the 2002 season before returning to Dallas in the summer of 2003.
In addition to sharing Florida International University alumnus status with another prominent Utah sporting personality, Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell, Mr. Cassar is also intimately linked to several Real Salt Lake personalities, both past and present. On top of his Kreis connections, Mr. Cassar competed for playing time in Miami with current RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey as well as current RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. During his second stint with Dallas, Mr. Cassar would become teammates with former RSL netminders D.J. Countess and later, Scott Garlick.
Mr. Cassar resides with his wife, Jennifer, in Sandy, UT, and has three children – daughters Sloan and Dylan and son Luke.
Now entering his third season as a member of the Real Salt Lake technical staff, former MLS player Miles Joseph has been a part of 38 wins across all competitions the last two years, kicking off his coaching career with a number of milestones in Real Salt Lake’s history-making 2010 campaign. Fans saw an RSL team set innumerable team records and set various League marks under the tutelage of Joseph and the RSL Technical Staff, including a new mark for goal difference (+25) in the non-shootout era. Last year, RSL became the first U.S./Canadian team to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League Final, dropping a 2-3 aggregate scoreline to Monterrey (Mex.).
Mr. Joseph, a native of Clifton, N.Y., played in six MLS seasons from 1996-2001 for the (NY/NJ) MetroStars, Columbus Crew and Dallas Burn. Joseph scored 12 career goals in 125 total games for the teams, and was a teammate of current RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis during the 2001 campaign in Dallas.
Joseph earned All-America honors at Clemson University – where he was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference 50th Anniversary Team – before being drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 1996 MLS College Draft by the MetroStars. A standout on the United States U-18 and U-20 Men’s National Teams, Joseph was selected for the roster of the U.S. team at the 1993 U-20 World Cup held in Australia, scoring a goal in the 6-0 victory over Turkey. The U.S. went 1-1-1 in group play, qualifying for the second round where it fell to Brazil.
In 1996, U.S. coach Bruce Arena named Joseph to that year’s U.S. Men’s Olympic Team, participating in the Atlanta Summer Games. Once again, the team went 1-1-1, but this time failed to make the second round. Joseph earned his first cap with the full U.S. National Team when he came on for Cobi Jones in the 89th minute of a 3-1 win over El Salvador on August 30,1996. In addition to having been coached by National Soccer Hall of Fame manager Arena, Joseph has also gained knowledge and experience while playing for international luminaries Fabio Capello (the current England National Team coach oversaw Joseph’s trial with AC Milan in 1997), Carlos Quieroz (current Portugal National Team Coach), Carlos Alberto Parreira (former Brazil National Team Coach) and Bora Milutinovic (Bora coached five different National Teams), each of whom managed the MetroStars during Joseph’s MLS career.
Since 2003, Joseph, 37, had been the Technical Director and Director of Coaching for the Players Soccer Academy. Joseph also concurrently served as Executive Director of NY Elite FC, located in his hometown of Clifton Park, N.Y., a club that is presently composed of 25 elite boys and girls teams. Prior to those positions, Joseph served as an Assistant Coach on the Siena College women’s program. During his Shenendehowa High School career, Joseph won three N.Y. state championships, and was named the Gatorade H.S. Player of the Year while earning All-America honors.
Joseph and his wife Leann live in Park City with their two children.
Another former Major League Soccer standout, defender C.J. Brown, was added to the Real Salt Lake technical staff on January 18, 2011, filling the vacancy left when Robin Fraser assumed the head coaching duties at Chivas USA. When Real Salt Lake visits Brown’s former Chicago home on May 9, 2012, the current RSL assistant will be inducted into the Chicago MLS club’s “Ring of Fire,” honoring C.J for his enormous contributions to the organization, on and off the field.
Brown’s addition to the Real Salt Lake staff allows the 2009 MLS Cup championship side to keep its distinction as the lone Technical Staff across the now 18-team League comprised solely of MLS alumni, joining RSL GM Garth Lagerwey, Head Coach Jason Kreis, and fellow assistant coaches Jeff Cassar and Miles Joseph. The five-man RSL braintrust now boasts cumulative MLS playing experience (regular season and playoffs) of 74,811 total minutes – spanning 923 games across 47 seasons – and eight domestic championships (one MLS Cup and seven Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups), giving the staff the unparalleled ability to tap into personal experience as it guides, assists and develops the current RSL roster.
Brown, 36, retired from the playing field in October, 2010, after 13 seasons as one of the most respected and consistent center backs in MLS history, compiling nearly 300 regular season appearances as a member of the Chicago Fire from 1998-2010. Known as one of the League’s most dependable and cerebral defenders, his 296 games played (T-13th); 290 starts (T-7th); and 25,738 minutes played (8th) all rank towards the top of the MLS record books – and are indeed atop the Fire’s career charts.
The last remaining “Fire Original” from the team’s 1998 inaugural campaign also played an integral part in all five of the Chicago’s domestic championships, as Brown helped lead the “Men in Red” to the 1998 MLS Cup and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles (1998, 2000 2003, and 2006), in addition to a spot in the 2003 MLS Cup final. The 2001 MLS All-Star would also finish his career among the League’s top 10 with 35 MLS Cup Playoff starts (T-5th) in as many appearances (T-7th).
Upon finishing his collegiate career at San Jose State, the Bay Area native stayed close to home to begin his road to a professional career with the USISL’s San Francisco Bay Seals, playing the first two of his three years with the side as an amateur. A run to the U.S. Open Cup Semifinals in 1997 by the Bay Seals would serve as Brown’s coming out party to MLS, and the then-expansion Fire would take the talented center back with the first selection in the 1998 Supplemental Draft. In addition to his standout MLS career, Brown would catch the attention of the U.S. National Team program, making 15 “caps” for the Red, White & Blue’s senior squad between 1998 and 2003.
Brown is no stranger to the coaching ranks, with stints as the Assistant Director of Coaching for the Chicago Fire Juniors and the Director of Coaching for the Elmhurst (Ill.) Elite youth clubs counting among the several youth coaching positions he held since beginning his professional career in 1998. Brown has already acquired his National “B” License for coaching from the United States Soccer Federation and is planning on beginning to work towards the USSF “A” License in the next 12-18 months.
The Hayward, Calif., native has relocated his family to the Wasatch Front, consisting of his wife, Kim – whom he married one day after winning the U.S. Open Cup title in October 2000 – and two daughters, Canessa (7) and Kali (6).
Dan Barlow is the longest-tenured member of the RSL Technical Staff, hired two months prior to current Head Coach Jason Kreis as the team’sStrength and Conditioning Coach, returning for his sixth season in 2011. Barlow has transformed RSL into one of the fittest clubs in MLS, taking advantage of the home venue’s altitude and managing player fitness under the demands of the long domestic season and grueling international travel.
Under Barlow’s evolving technique and guidance, RSL players see their fitness routines and nutritional intakes constantly monitored, even during the brief offseason between campaigns. In season, weights, resistance and aerobic programs are installed to ensure peak performance during the long and often arduous MLS season, which usually sees RSL also competing in concurrent tournaments, such as CONCACAF Champions League and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Mr. Barlow’s decade of expertise includes the development of training and conditioning programs for professional athletes and teams, in addition to designing college, corporate, and in-home fitness facilities. Prior to his consultation services, Mr. Barlow spent three years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Univ. of Maryland, where he worked with a wide variety of athletes, and three years as the Terrapins’ Graduate Assistant for Fitness.
Mr. Barlow earned his Masters degree in Exercise Physiology at the Univ. of Maryland, one of the Nation’s Top 10 Kinesiology programs, and also holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Bethany College. Barlow and his wife, Laura, recently celebrated their daughter Lily’s first birthday and resides with personable dog Milo in Cottonwood Heights.
Elliot Fall assumed new duties in 2010 for Real Salt Lake, overseeing and executing all logistics surrounding the team, including training and travel schedule, road accommodations and various front office interactions for the technical staff and players. These duties continue in 2012 for Fall, his third campaign as the squad’s Team Administrator after working in the RSL Communications department from 2007-09. A native of Salt Lake City, the ebullient Fall attended both Judge Memorial High School and the University of Utah. Bringing a veritable cornucopia of talents to the job every day - including a quick wit, a font of pop-culture knowledge and an affinity for video editing - Fall’s enthusiastic attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes for the team make him an invaluable asset to both Real Salt Lake and Rio Tinto Stadium.
Fall is (shocking!) no longer single and resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tyson Pace enters his second full season as Real Salt Lake’s Head Athletic Trainer following a pair of full-time seasons as the squad’s Assistant Athletic Trainer via partnership with Sports Med Utah and the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. After working with the squad on a part-time basis throughout 2008, the bilingual Pace was quickly embraced inside the locker room as a key figure regarding the team’s daily fitness, weight- training and rest and recovery routines, in an effort to keep each player in optimal shape to perform at their very best throughout the grueling MLS season.
Mr. Pace received his Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from the University of Utah, and continued his studies at the U of U to receive a Master’s degree in Sports Psychology. Prior to his stint with Real Salt Lake, Pace spent five years as a Certified Athletic Trainer at the NCAA Division I level with the Utes football and baseball programs. Pace and his wife Amy reside in Clearfield, UT, with their two daughters, Taya and Shaylee.
Kevin Christen joined Real Salt Lake as a new staff member last season, where he worked closely with players, doctors, coaches and other medical staff to provide all the medical care and rehabilitation services they require. The South Jordan, UT, native joined RSL from United States Speedskating, where he worked as Head Athletic Trainer for the National Short Track Team. Christen also worked with various teams and institutions through Sports Med Utah, including Odyssey Dance Company and surrounding dance companies. Certified as an ATC in 2008, Christen earned a Masters in Sports Medicine from University of Utah, focusing on the Utes Baseball Team. Mr. Christen was married in September of 2002 to his wife Brooke and the couple currently resides in South Jordan, Utah, with their two daughters Ella Grace and Lola Faith.
Mike Fratto kicks off the 2012 season in a new, larger capacity with Real Salt Lake, assuming daily equipment-related duties for the team after working with Real Salt Lake since the 2006 season as the team’s massage therapist. The meticulous Fratto graduated from the Professional Massage Therapy Program at the Salt Lake Cam- pus of the Utah College of Massage Therapy Family of Schools in June of 1999, coming to UCMT after having sustained an injury to his back while training for a soccer team. Knowing that he would no longer be able to play at the same level previous to his injury, Mike decided to focus his energy on the healing aspect of massage and sports injury and enrolled in the program. Upon graduating, Mike began his career in the massage industry working with the NORBA Mountain Bike Racing Team that summer. By the fall of that same year he had a position with the Utah Blitzz, RSL’s predecessor.
After plying his trade in Major League Soccer for the last 14 seasons, former Real Salt Lake midfielder Andy Williams announced his retirement from professional soccer on Dec. 6, 2011, marking the end of an era for the last remaining on-field “RSL Original” from the Utah side’s 2005 inaugural season. While the 34-year-old Williams will no longer suit up in the team’s familiar Claret-and-Cobalt colors on the field, the RSL fan-favorite will remain with the club after accepting the “Head Scout” position on the team’s Technical Staff.
“I wouldn’t change [my time with RSL] for the world, and I’m glad I came to Salt Lake City, as my family and I have been able to call the area home,” said an emotional Williams. “I’m excited about the opportunity the front office has given me by allowing me to continue to be a part of RSL. I think I’ve got a lot to offer off the field and I look forward to helping bring in players that will make our team better and hopefully provide some more championship rings. The transition will be a learning opportunity for me, but I couldn’t be happier to do it on behalf of the team, fans and city that I love. I’m going to take this new endeavor and put all of my heart into it, just like I did on the field.”
Williams ended his playing days as Real Salt Lake’s regular season career leader in games played (189), shots (232) and fouls suffered (269), while placing second in club annals in assists (29), games started (122), minutes played (11,536), shots on goal (83) and corner kicks (225). In addition, Williams appeared in all 12 of RSL’s MLS Cup Playoff appearances since 2008, including the 2009 MLS Cup Final against the LA Galaxy, when he gamely went the full 120 minutes in helping the Utah side register a 1-1 draw through regulation and overtime, an effort that eventually ended with RSL gaining the first professional sports title for a team from Utah in nearly 40 years. Williams was one of the first players to join Real Salt Lake after the Utah side claimed him from the Chicago Fire in the 2004 MLS Expansion Draft on Nov. 19, 2004, just two days after current Head Coach Jason Kreis became the squad’s first player signing.
“Andy Williams has been an integral member of Real Salt Lake since the club’s inception, an important player and a critical leader on and off the field, an integral part of the changing of the culture of our club and, most importantly, a terrific personal friend and family member of RSL,” said Kreis. “While it is always disheartening to see the playing career of someone you truly care about come to an end, I can honestly say that I am pleased it has come to an end wearing the RSL colors, and that he has chosen to stay with this club as we look to strengthen our squad and reload during a challenging offseason. There is no doubt that we at RSL have lost one of the all-time greats on the field today, but I truly feel we may have gained someone that can contribute in an even more significant fashion now off it.”
After becoming one of the most prolific scorers in NCAA history (52 goals & 45 assists) while at the University of Rhode Island, Williams began his MLS career in 1998 with the Columbus Crew, coming back from his stint with the Jamaican National Team at the FIFA World Cup in France to register 12 assists in only 13 appearances to end the regular season. Despite producing at every stop, Williams would bounce around to five different MLS sides in his first seven seasons in the league– Columbus (1998-99), Miami Fusion FC (2000), New England Revolution (2001-02), MetroStars (2002) and Chicago Fire (2003-2004) – before ending his nomadic days by landing with Real Salt Lake.
“We would like to thank Andy for all of his commitment and service on behalf of Real Salt Lake,” said RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey. “There is good reason why he is recognized as arguably the most memorable player in our franchise’s history, and we are honored that he has chosen to accept our invitation to stay on and join our Technical Staff. Leaving the playing field is never an easy decision, but Andy is a gifted person who will continue to help RSL off the field just as he led us on the field for the past seven years.”
Williams finishes his MLS career amongst the league’s best in a number of regular season categories, with his final numbers including 332 appearances (6th all-time); 86 assists (8th), 680 fouls suffered (2nd); 231 starts (T-32nd); 21,698 minutes played (28th); 30 goals and 441 corner kicks (10th). In addition to his MLS Cup title with Real Salt Lake in 2009, Williams also claimed hardware with Chicago by helping the Fire win the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, one of his record-tying five LHUSOC Finals appearances in the tournament’s professional era (1998, 2000, 2001, 2003 & 2004). The veteran midfielder also played a vital role in helping RSL set new league benchmarks during the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League, scoring a goal and tallying a team-high seven assists in 11 appearances en route to the Utah side becoming the first MLS club to win its group and advance to the Semifinal and Final rounds of the regional club championship.
“It has been night and day since my first seasons in Utah. When we came into the league we were not winning a lot of games, but we always had our fans at Rice-Eccles; they came and supported us from the get-go,” continued Williams. “I’m happy we stuck in there and came away with a championship to reward both our efforts on the field and the fans’ efforts as well. You will always go through good times and bad, and I’m happy that I was able to end my career at Real Salt Lake, and with a championship ring.”
In addition to his standout league career, Williams was also a long-time contributor to the Jamaican Men’s National Team, scoring 15 goals in 93 appearances on behalf of the “Reggae Boyz” from 1998-2010. After making his senior international debut at the age of 20 during the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Williams was a regular for Jamaica in CONCACAF region World Cup Qualifying contests and the Reggae Boyz’ CONCACAF Gold Cup appearances in 2000, 2003 & 2005.