Chris Klein, left, and Ugo Ihemelu vie for the ball during a 2009 U.S. Open Cup clash (AP Photo).
The club made the announcement today that the 34-year-old midfielder who has found it difficult to break into the team this season will hang up his cleats at the end of the season, joining fellow veteran midfielder Eddie Lewis who made a similar announcement earlier this year.
Klein joined the club in June 2007 and ranks fifth in MLS history with 332 career regular season games played, scoring 49 goals and another 69 assists with three different clubs.
“The decision to step away from the game after 13 years is a difficult one, but one that I am ready for,” Klein said. “I have had an amazing journey in MLS. I’ve had the ability to play with hundreds of teammates and for some of the best coaches that this league has ever produced, and I was able to forge relationships with them that extend beyond the soccer field. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to play in front of some incredible fans in Kansas City, Salt Lake and now here with the Galaxy; and those are the people that I will really miss.”
Klein was a fourth round draft pick for the Kansas City Wizards and then spent a season and a half with Real Salt Lake after he was traded just before the start of the 2006 season.
From the Galaxy press release:
One of the most consistent players in the history of MLS, Klein owns the league record for most consecutive games played at 141 and consecutive games started at 118. From June 11, 2005 until April 11, 2009, Klein started every regular season game in which his teams played. On April 18, 2009, he came off the bench in the Galaxy’s 1-1 draw at San Jose, ending his consecutive games started streak, but continuing his consecutive games played streak. That run ended at 141 games on September 26, 2009 when he was an unused substitute in a 2-0 loss at Columbus.
A two-time MLS Comeback Player of the Year, winning the award in 2002 and 2005 after coming back from a torn ACL that he suffered in each of the previous seasons, Klein was capped 22 times by the U.S. National Team after making his international debut in a 2-0 win over Mexico on October 25, 2000. He had five goals and three assists in his international career, including a goal and two assists in a 4-0 win over Guatemala at Pizza Hut Park in February 2006.
His most memorable moment with the Galaxy?
The bicycle kick in the final seconds of regulation in the inaugural SuperLiga final that tied the score at 1-1 and sent the match to overtime. The Galaxy eventually lost to Pachuca on penalty kicks.
“Chris has established an outstanding legacy in MLS as an All-Star performer, an MLS Cup champion and a key figure in a historic collective bargaining agreement,” sdaid Galaxy Coach and GM Bruce Arena. “Through these endeavors, Chris has always exhibited the character and professionalism that he has become synonymous with and we wish him the very best as he moves forward to the next step of his career.”
Incidentally, Lewis publicly announced his retirement weeks ago, but the Galaxy decided to ignore that and re-announced his retirement today.
Kinda weird, but at least that gave Arena the chance to gush:
“Eddie Lewis is arguably the finest left-sided midfielder in the history of U.S. Soccer. “His play in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, MLS and English football secures his place in the Hall of Fame.”
I would actually argue with Arena on that one, but there’s no doubt Lewis was a fine player in his day.
He started out with the old San Jose Clash, but his best years came in the almost 10 years he spent in England with Preston North End, Fulham, Leeds United and Derby County.
He played almost 50 times with the Galaxy and scored three times after joining the club in August 2008.
Here’s more from the players themselves: