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Sophomore slump over, Kreis returns to form.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Friday, May 8, 1998) -- Jason Kreis, one of the bright young players in Major League Soccer as a 23-year-old rookie in 1996, appears back in stride after a mediocre second season.

The midfielder has two goals already for Dallas Burn, including the game-winner in the 1-0 win against the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.

He led his team in scoring two years ago with 13 goals, five assists, for 31 points, starting 29 games as an attacking midfielder. The 1997 season, though, saw him with just eight goals, six assists, for 22 points, and only 21 starts -- as he was displaced in the middle by former Switzerland star Alain Sutter and was unable to adjust to his new flank position.

A different slot was created for him this year, which he likes. But now he has returned, at least temporarily, to his original attacking midfielder role with Sutter out indefinitely due to a hip injury.

"I wasn't mature enough to accept whatever role I was asked to play for the team," Kreis said of his difficulties last year.

He also missed star defensive midfielder Leonel Alvarez, with whom he had bonded in 1996. The two-time World Cup veteran from Colombia left Dallas last year to play in Mexico, but has returned to MLS this season.

"Jason is a player who needs people around him that believe in him," Coach Dave Dir told the Dallas Morning News.

He helped, too, by putting Kreis in a new formation, between forward and midfield, with freedom to roam rather than being restricted to the side. He played well there, but now is back at attacking midfielder until Sutter returns.

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.