Kamler could be key to Real Salt Lake's fortunes

Published: Monday, Feb. 21 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

He's the oldest player on Real Salt Lake.

He's a Disney freak.

And after nine years in the MLS, he's being asked to learn a whole new position.

His name is Brian Kamler, and even though he's a relative unknown compared to RSL players Clint Mathis and Eddie Pope, he might be the most important player on the team this year.

If Kamler can stay healthy and produce a solid season at the holding midfield position, Real Salt Lake could be well on its way to a very productive expansion season.

"It's a little bit of a new position for me. I played there with the Revolution a couple of times when we needed to," said Kamler. "The best thing about it is we have a ton of games before the season starts. It's something I'm going to have a lot of repetition with before the season to iron out the kinks."

With the first three weeks of training camp under his belt, and five remaining before the April 2 opener, Kamler notices himself becoming more and more confident in his role.

So what is it about the holding midfield position that makes it so challenging? "Knowing when you can go forward a little bit and when you need to stay to plug a couple of holes, especially if some of your outside backs are going forward," said Kamler. "I'm there to be a link between defenders and forwards."

Essentially, he says the less you notice him the better.

Kamler first learned about his new responsibility while taking care of some personal business in Baltimore during the January MLS SuperDraft. It had been two months since Salt Lake acquired Kamler in the expansion draft, and for the first time he was able to sit down and talk with Real Salt Lake coach John Ellinger about the upcoming season.

That's when Ellinger asked Kamler if he was comfortable with that position. Without hesitation, Kamler concurred.

"Look at who we have in the middle in front of me. They're all quality players and don't lose the ball very much," said Kamler. "Then you look behind me, it's not like we're looking at first-year players. We're looking at tons of experience. That's going to make it easier on me."

Who wouldn't feel at ease knowing a guy like Pope, arguably the best defender in the history of the United States, has got your back.

"I feel very comfortable with Brian Kamler," said Ellinger. "It's a new role for him, but I feel he has the experience and the quickness to do very well at holding midfield for us."

Salt Lake will be Kamler's five different MLS team in 10 seasons. Previously he's been with D.C. United, Miami, NY/NJ MetroStars and most recently with New England.

In many ways, his wife Suzanne had already predicted such a future for the Kamlers.

Last August, with three months remaining in the 2004 MLS season, Kamler's informed him she had a gut feeling they were going to be in Salt Lake City next season. "And she said 'and I am excited about that,"' said Kamler.

It turns out she was right.

"My wife and I went out looking for houses in December, and I can't wait for our families to come out and visit," said Kamler.

One of the best things about being in Salt Lake City as opposed to Boston is he's much closer to Disneyland.

OK, Kamler admits it's a little odd that he's such a Disney nut, but he couldn't help it. One day in high school, he came home following a night out with friends, and noticed a copy of the Little Mermaid on the coffee table. With nothing better to do, he popped it into the VCR and started watching.

He was fascinated how they made the characters come to life.

Since then, he's watched virtually every Disney move, he's become an expect on the history of the company, he's purchased numerous shares of Disney stock, and reads about the company's business dealings on a daily basis.

Not surprisingly, his favorite move is Remember the Titans, a Disney film of course.

At 33, maybe Kamler's love for Mickey and Co. have lengthened his career, because even he says he has more in the tank.

"I would love to play five more years," said Kamler. "I know I'm the oldest guy on the team at the moment, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I feel pretty good."


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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