Real Salt Lake says farewell to its Swiss Army knife captain

After declining Kreilach’s option for next season, the club had hoped to come to a new deal to bring him back to Sandy. Instead, the 34-year-old is looking for a new home.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake midfielder Damir Kreilach (6) celebrates his hat trick against the L.A. Galaxy during the second half of the MLS soccer match Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Sandy at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Damir Kreilach is saying goodbye to Real Salt Lake.

The Croatian Swiss Army knife who became an All-Star and club captain during a six-year run will not be part of the 2024 roster, RSL announced Wednesday.

“Unfortunately we are faced with saying a very difficult goodbye to Damir Kreilach, a beloved figure in our Club’s history who provided nearly unparalleled impact, leadership and service to Real Salt Lake,” Kurt Schmid, the team’s sporting director, said in a statement.

Kreilach scored four goals last season and saw his role greatly reduced. RSL declined to pick up his option for next season, but both the club and the 34-year-old had expressed interest in negotiating a new deal.

“You know how much RSL means to me, how much great memories I have at RSL,” Kreilach said in November. “From Day 1, I was welcomed here, having the fans on my side and having unforgettable connections. I really think I’m going to stay here.”

As recently as last week, Schmid said he was hopeful the team was nearing a deal to bring its captain back.

On Wednesday, however, the team made its public farewell announcements.

“It’s impossible to put into words what Damir has meant to our club during the last six years,” Schmid said. “Everyone across Utah’s soccer landscape owes Damir a massive debt of gratitude for the countless moments he provided on the field as well as the community impact he quietly made off it.”

Kreilach has been one RSL’s biggest stars since joining the club in 2018. In six seasons, he accounted for 47 goals and 24 assists.

“Damir is the consummate professional, a true gentleman and an unequivocal leader who holds himself and his teammates to the highest of standards,” Schmid’s statement continued. “We wish him and his family nothing but success in his future endeavors, and want everyone to know that the Kreilach family will always have a home here in Utah.”