EDITORIAL – The 2019 Major League Soccer regular season is ending today. Several players who’ve had long and storied careers will be saying good bye to professional soccer by the end of the year. Some have playoffs to look forward to. Let us take a look at the retiring MLS players.
Retiring MLS Players: An ode to the Greats
The following MLS legends will be retiring at the end of the season: DaMarcus Beasley of Houston Dynamo, Tim Howard of Colorado Rapids, Michael Parkhurst of Atlanta United FC, Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake, and Chris Wondolowski of San Jose Earthquakes.
Atlanta and RSL are already in the playoffs. Houston have been eliminated from contention. The fates of San Jose and Colorado are still up in the air. We could be saying goodbye to several of these legends today. We’ll be saying bye to all of them in the coming weeks.
Beasley is one of the best traveled USMNT legends from the aging out generation. His career included stints at Chicago Fire and Houston that included trophies. With 126 caps with the USMNT, he was an iron man of the left back position, including playing several games with miraculous performances as an apparently old man. He also won a bunch of stuff at PSV Eindhoven and Rangers. No big deal.
Tim Howard is the Secretary of Defense. By several metrics, he’s the best goalkeeper in USMNT and English Premier League history. He was the foundation of a near-decade long stint at Everton. He set an MLS record when he moved to Manchester United. Howard was a part of a magical season with the Rapids in 2016 that included several PK stops against the Galaxy in the playoffs. He also made three World Cup teams and set a record in 2014 in the knockout stage against Belgium for most saves. Howard was a part of the USMNT side that lost to Trinidad & Tobago and missed out on the 2018 World Cup, though he has not taken the blame of others for that failure.
Michael Parkhurst and Chris Wondolowski are good examples of players who had a lot of success in MLS but could not take that to the international level. Parkhurst got his first big break with the New England Revolution before spending six seasons in Europe, mostly in Denmark. Parkhurst returned to MLS to play for Columbus in a last effort to get playing time and make the 2014 World Cup squad under Jurgen Klinsmann. Parkhurst got his championship last year winning MLS Cup as captain of Atlanta United FC. He’s now not a regular starter and his role for the team going into the playoffs is up in the air.
Nick Rimando holds almost every possible record for a goalkeeper in MLS. He’s yet to win Goalkeeper of the Year, but has been the foundation of RSL’s defense along with Kyle Beckerman for a decade and change. He won MLS Cup in 2009 in PKs. Fittingly nicknamed the “Wall of the Wasatch,” his retirement is the end of an era in Salt Lake and goalkeeping in American Soccer.
Wondolowski is the all-time goals leader in MLS history with 158. Maligned for some poor finishing at times and a howler in the World Cup against Belgium, he’s been the club man of the San Jose Earthquakes through thick and thin. He’s humble and one of the best poachers/foxes in the box in league history. While he’s got a share of bad misses, he’s got plenty of “right place, right time” goals that drive opposing coaches and goalkeepers mad. He was a part of the Bash Brothers/Goonies magical season in San Jose in 2012. The team won the Shield that year. Wondo took home the MVP and Golden Boot that year.
All of these players have elevated their clubs and the sport of soccer in America. They should be remembered and cherished as we say goodbye to them today and in the coming weeks.