At least for one day, so the former Cal State Dominguez Hills and UCLA goalkeeper who grew up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and spent a decade as a fixture between the posts in LA can retire as a Galaxy player.
The petition is here.
I’m sure the idea is a long shot, but as far as public relations go it’s a worthy effort to honor the only MLS player who made in excess of 400 appearances in the league and won two MLS Cups with the Galaxy before moving to Kansas City.
The mere fact the LA Riot Squad would float the idea shows how well regarded Kevin Hartman, who officially retired Thursday as a member of Red Bull New York, was regarded by fans in Southern California.
“It has been an honor and thrill to play in Major League Soccer over the last 17 years and I first want to thank my family and friends for their unbelievable support. In addition, I also want to recognize my former coaches, teammates, clubs and most importantly, the fans for being a huge part of this ride,” Hartman said. “It was a privilege to have this dream job and watch soccer and the League grow by leaps and bounds since I began my career. I am truly looking forward to the next stage of my life and am very thankful for the many memories and relationships I have made along the way.”
Hartman, who also made five appearances for the U.S., was affectionately known as El Gato, although I always thought his positioning owed as much if not more to his success as his agility.
Hartman made around 250 appearances for the Galaxy and was also an articulate spokesman off the field in a locker room full of quotable, perceptive players that included Chris Albright, who also retired this season with NYRB.
I still remember sitting with him in the then Home Depot Center stands before the stadium officially opened in mid-2003 with Hartman a little in awe of the stunning soccer-specific stadium he would be playing in before friends and family.
Hartman was always like that: genuine, approachable and a pleasure to watch and talk to.
Whether he retires as a Galaxy player or not, Hartman will always occupy a special place in franchise history.
But General Manager Chris Klein could make himself and the club look good in the eyes of fans by re-signing Hartman, however briefly.
“Kevin deserves to be remembered as one of the all-time greats in Major League Soccer,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. “Having the opportunity to both compete against him as a player and coach him this season, it is clear to me that Kevin is the ultimate competitor and professional and it was an honor to work with him.”