Real Salt Lake Players Share Thoughts On Playing Against Damir Kreilach

Mar 22, 2024, 1:50 PM | Updated: 1:52 pm

Damir Kreilach - Real Salt Lake...

Damir Kreilach #8 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during a match against Colorado Rapids in the MLS Is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 12, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

VANCOUVER“One day I’ll look back at my career, more now that he has left, and thank fútbol for allowing me to meet a person like (Damir Kreilach), a person that I can always call a friend”

Those were the words of longtime Real Salt Lake veteran Marcelo Silva when talking about former captain Damir Kreilach. As RSL gets ready to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, March 23rd, a familiar face and friend will be present, donning the colors of the Whitecaps.

On February 7, 2018, Real Salt Lake signed Damir Kreilach from Union Berlin.

At that time, a midfielder to play the 6 alongside Kyle Beckerman, Damir quickly found his way into the hearts of fans having an impressive 12-goal regular season. But, his legacy would not truly begin until a playoff match against Los Angeles FC at the Banc of California Stadium.

His “Kreilach Kid” goal to knock out the new expansion side Juggernauts is a goal that will never be forgotten by many RSL fans. 

From there, Kreilach became a mainstay in Real Salt Lake’s starting eleven, leading the club in goals scored for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

He was an advocate in the community, always willing to participate in RSL’s efforts for community outreach. He even went as far as to give out tickets to matches in his own corner of the stadium to underprivileged families.

He took the captains’ armband at the start of the 2022 season and became one of the biggest leaders and voices in the locker room and in the community.

“I’ll always remember him as an old school captain, very professional and always made sure we followed the rules,” said Marcelo Silva, reflecting on Kreilach’s leadership.

Having joined RSL in 2017, Silva is one of the few players who was around for Kreilach’s entire career with the squad and filled in as captain in Kreilach’s absence during the 2022 season due to injury.

Kreilach’s stint with Real Salt Lake came to an end prior to the 2024 season, as he was out of contract and signed with the Whitecaps. “That type of player and person is very difficult to replace.”

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For Silva, facing Kreilach on the opposite touchline doesn’t change the importance of getting a win and three points.

“He’s a person that these days I call a friend. But that doesn’t change that when we’re on the pitch, we’re very competitive. He’s going to want to win and so will I. We both know that when playing, we’re both going to do everything we can to win. But it’s good to be this way. He’s defending another jersey, other colors now and he’s going to want to win just as he did here.”

With everything Kreilach did for the club and community, it was going to be difficult for anyone to step up and replace the captain. However, Chicho Arango wasn’t going to shy away from the opportunity to replace Kreilach and take the captain’s armband.

“He was a great captain and a great person. He’s a historic player for this club and he’s left a big responsibility for me. I have a lot of respect for everything he did for the club. It’s a major responsibility to replace him but I take it with a major calmness.”

Although Arango was only teammates with Kreilach for a short period of time, Kreilach was still able to leave an impression on Arango. “He was respectful and admirable in just the way that he was as a person. We built a great friendship before he left.”

When it comes to facing Kreilach in a Vancouver kit this upcoming weekend, Arango shared the same sentiment as Silva in knowing the importance of winning.

“I think that he’s the one that should be feeling the extra plus considering he’s facing his former team. We’re heading into this match with the same desire and ambition as normal to win. We want to head there and come back with a win.”

Chicho Arango and Marcelo Silva shared their favorite memories with Damir Kreilach and had nothing but smiles and cheer to share when it came to their friend.

“We would share moments together on away days. Marcelo, Ruiz, Damir, and I would go out for a coffee after our walks and those moments will always be memorable,” said Arango.

For Marcelo Silva, there were too many moments to pick just one.

“He was the person I would see the most outside of training. With him I have too many memories. Our relationship extends to our families. Our families would get together for trips, dinners at my place and dinners at his place. To tell you the truth, if I had to pick just one, I would be selling it short. I will always have great memories that we’ve shared from the second I met him to today, I will always cherish those good memories.”

How To Watch Real Salt Lake

All Major League Soccer games are broadcasted on Apple TV with MLS Season Pass.

All Real Salt Lake English-language radio coverage for the 2024 season and beyond will be carried on various KSL radio signals. KSL Sports Zone (97.5 FM/1280 AM) and KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM / 1160 AM) are both stations under the Bonneville International umbrella.

Alex Napoles is a host on The RSL Show. You can subscribe the show here and follow Alex on X here

Want more coverage of RSL and Damir Kreilach? Take us with you, wherever you go.

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Real Salt Lake Players Share Thoughts On Playing Against Damir Kreilach