Longtime MLS goalkeeper Dan Kennedy announced through his last team, the LA Galaxy, his retirement on Tuesday. The 34-year-old hangs up his boots after a 12-year professional career, spent with a number of clubs on two continents.
The Southern California native played collegiately at UC Santa Barbara, where he finished with eye-popping numbers and a trip to the 2004 College Cup final.
Originally drafted by Chivas USA in 2005, Kennedy did not earn a contract and was subsequently signed by the MetroStars as a backup. He never played for that team, and moved to the Puerto Rico Islanders, where he established himself in 2005-06.
In 2007, Kennedy took the unusual step of moving to Chile, to play for Municipal Iquique. He became the starter at the second-division club and received some attention in Chile and here in the United States for his play.
Kennedy joined Chivas USA on a contract in 2008, and it was with the defunct MLS side where he really made his name. While his initial years were marked by injury and a battle for playing time with MLS mainstay Zach Thornton, DK became the regular starter three games into the 2011 season and never looked back, serving as the Goats’ starter for four seasons.
During his CUSA tenure, Kennedy became the team leader in games played, once scored a goal for them in a competitive game and took nearly all of the goalkeeping records for the club, which was rather impressive considering Thornton and Brad Guzan also played for the team and they each won an MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award while playing for Chivas.
DK himself did not win MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, despite being considered one of the league’s best during his time as a starter at Chivas, although he did come in second in the voting for the 2012 Goalkeeper of the Year award. He was also an MLS All-Star that year, and these honors are rather remarkable considering CUSA was at or near the bottom of the standings that year and all others when he was a starter. He was nearly always the best or second-best player on the team in that span.
Finishing his tenure with the Goats as team captain, following the folding of Chivas USA after the 2014 season Kennedy was selected first overall in the Dispersal Draft by FC Dallas. He played one season there, making 16 appearances in 2015, but ultimately lost his job to youngster Jesse Gonzalez. After being traded to the Galaxy ahead of the 2016 season, he started the season as the No. 1, but an injury sidelined him immediately and as time went on he dropped down the depth chart.
As a result, Kennedy’s legacy is rather murky, through no fault of his own. His most successful stint as a professional occurred on a team that was otherwise awful, and adding insult to injury, is dead and with few mourning its departure.
In a better world, Kennedy wouldn’t have had to deal with the constant drama on and off the field that was Chivas USA, he may have gotten more years to play as a productive pro, and he would have been the perfect candidate to subsequently be honored as a legend of the club in a “ring of honor” ceremony or something. With no team and no stadium, his vast contributions to the club are nothing more than a memory, and will never be anything more than that. And that’s awful.
I spoke with Kennedy several times while covering Chivas USA, and he was always professional, kind, warm, personable and sometimes funny while speaking in postgame scrums. He shook everyone’s hand after the last game Chivas played, thanked everyone for covering the team and him over the years, and remained friendly on the few occasions around town I ran into him after that.
Kennedy will remain in Southern California and work for the Galaxy in a few different roles, including a radio broadcaster and USL analyst for LA Galaxy II moving forward.
All in all, congratulations on a good career, Dan, and all the best to you moving forward.
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