Chivas USA defender and former U.S. Men's National Team captain Carlos Bocanegra announced on Thursday that he is retiring as a player at the end of the current 2014 MLS season. Bocanegra, 35, has been with Chivas since July 2013 but has not played since suffering a concussion July 20 of this season against D.C. United.
A Southern California native, Bocanegra played collegiately at UCLA, before entering MLS with the Chicago Fire in 2000, winning MLS Rookie of the Year that year and MLS Defender of the Year in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he was among the wave of Americans who joined then-English Premier League club Fulham, where he played until 2008, playing more than 100 games in the EPL with the Cottagers.
In 2008, he moved to France, where he played first for Rennes and then for Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1, before moving on to the Scotland, playing for a time in the SPL with Rangers before that club nearly went out of existence due to major debts, and were relegated to the third tier. In 2012-13, he went to Spanish Segunda side Racing Santander for a season, before returning to MLS and playing for the Goats.
Bocanegra was also a regular for the USMNT from 2001-12, picking up the moniker "Captain America" along the way. Earning 110 caps for his country, Boca helped guide the U.S. to Gold Cup titles in 2002 and 2007, and started at both the 2006 World Cup and the 2010 World Cup, where he served as captain of the team in South Africa, and memorably posed with former U.S. President Bill Clinton in the locker room after the Americans advanced from the group stage.
To date, Bocanegra has played in 30 competitive games for Chivas USA the last two seasons. Named captain by incoming coach Wilmer Cabrera this season, Bocanegra brought a much-needed element of vocal leadership to the team, and helped the team to a four-game winning streak following the World Cup break. It seemed the club had turned a corner, but since Bocanegra's last appearance, the loss that broke the winning streak, the team has only managed to earn one point in seven matches in his absence.
The retirement of Bocanegra adds to the notion that 2014 represents something of an end of an era in American soccer. His USMNT backline teammate Jay DeMerit retired from the Vancouver Whitecaps in July due to an injury, and another USMNT star, Landon Donovan, is also set to retire at the end of the season.
We wish Carlos the best of luck in his post-playing days, and thank him for his time playing with Chivas USA.
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