Damir Kreilach joined in February 2018 in the US Major League Soccer. Speaking to rbb | 24, he talks about his new home in Utah and about the Bundesliga promotion of Union Berlin. By Simon Wenzel
"He's fine": This is such a classic sentence when someone has talked to the fledged child of the family and reported afterwards. Anyone who speaks with Damir Kreilach can convey this statement in good conscience to the Union fans. The Croat is still part of the Union family. In his four and a half years with the Iron, he played himself in the hearts of the followers and then moved in 2018 somewhat surprisingly to America.
Kreilach called the USA a "lifelong dream" and his expectations were not disappointed, as he says on the phone: "I'm very happy," he says of his life in the state of Utah, "my family feels well, it's all very quiet here, "says the 30-year-old about his new home, the 200,000-inhabitant city of Salt Lake City. As usual politely and in German Kreilach talks. We reach him on holiday in his native Croatia, because in the US Major League Soccer (MLS) is just a seasonal break.
In the playoffs at the master failed
That can be long with the pros of the MLS. On October 24, ended the season for Kreilach and his team Real Salt Lake City, in the play-off quarter-final was against the eventual champions Seattle Sounders. Only in the middle of January the preparation starts again, the season starts in February. Now, calm is announced. "I'll take a break for about three weeks and then start again with a training plan given to me by the club on the 8th of December," says Krailach.
He is satisfied with the past season. "We have achieved almost all goals, we can be proud of that," he says. The play-off against Seattle is easier to deal with in retrospect, because the Sounders later won the title: "We have simply retired against a good team." In any case, reaching the playoffs is a success for Salt Lake, because the team is one of the clubs with the lowest budget in the league.
Kreilach has again found a "family"
Kreilach himself is one of the top players in the team. Since joining Union to America, he has played a total of 70 games in two seasons (18 goals and 8 assists), leading his team as captain on the pitch. "A great step forward", the midfielder calls his change, although he still refers to the departure of Union as the "hardest decision of my career".
He even sees the North American professional league among the "best ten leagues" in a global comparison and raves about the potential of American football. "I think in five to seven years it will be one of the best leagues in the world," he says. Above all, the professionalism with which he works in the states and how he invests in training opportunities impresses him. In addition, and one may believe one who has played for only three clubs in his career, he has again found a family. "All of my clubs felt like a second family, I say, it was like this in Rijeka, it was simply overwhelming at Union, where I found friends for life and that's how it is now," says Kreilach.
Born in: Vukovar, in the former Yugoslavia
At the 1st FC Union Berlin: 2013 to 2018
Other stations: HNK Rijeka, Real Salt Lake
Second division games: 149 (all for the 1st FC Union)
Second league goals: 33
Unions climb: "Outstanding!"
But the contact to his Berlin family is far from torn off. With many at Union, the ex-captain writes regularly news: Among other things, to President Dirk Zingler, press spokesman Christian work and players such as Christopher Trimmel and Michael Parensen, he still has contact. "Berlin will always stay in my heart, my daughter was born here, but also the time at Union, this mood in the stadium." Of course, he also followed the rise of the Iron in the summer – as an avid spectator: "That was just outstanding, the boys have written club history!"
If it is up to him, Union's path is far from over. "Of course they have to hold the class first, but I think they have even more quality: I see Union in the fight for a Europa League place – clearly that will be difficult, but everything is possible," says Kreilach and is pleased: "It just makes it a lot of fun to follow Union. " As often as possible, he does the same in the stadium when he is on holiday in Croatia. Then short trips to Berlin are part of the fixed program. Also, the game against Gladbach on Saturday (15:30 clock) he wants to look as possible in the stadium.
Damir Kreilach still wants to play a few years, preferably in the MLS at Salt Lake City. Currently, his contract in America is still a year, but if it was up to him, then he would like to stay longer. Because he is so proud that he has changed his clubs so seldom. Kreilach also wants to stay in the football business after his career. Where, he does not know, but preferably in one of his footballing families – maybe in Union.