CARSON, Calif. (AP) - Former U.S. national team captain Carlos Bocanegra will retire at the conclusion of Chivas USA’s season, ending the stalwart defender’s 15-year pro soccer career.
The 35-year-old Bocanegra announced his decision Thursday. Last-place Chivas USA’s regular season ends Oct. 26.
“I’m still hungry for the game, and I want to play, but unfortunately you can’t play forever,” Bocanegra said. “I was thinking about this in the offseason, and it took me about six months to come to a final decision. The timing is right for me. I’ve known for a little while now in my mind and in my heart. I’m happy with it, and I’m looking forward to the new challenges.”
Bocanegra played in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and he scored a record 14 goals as a U.S. defender. He has made 110 appearances for the national team, becoming the 12th U.S. player with at least 100 caps.
“Carlos is one of the finest defenders that the United States has ever produced,” said Bruce Arena, the former U.S. coach. “He is a tremendous competitor, a great leader and the type of person you always wanted on your team.”
He was the American captain for 64 matches beginning in 2007, providing steady leadership along with his usual solid defensive play as the U.S. team grew in stature over the past decade. The Los Angeles-area native also played in four CONCACAF Gold Cups and won two championships, captaining the victorious 2007 team.
Only Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones, Jeff Agoos and Marcelo Balboa have played more minutes in a U.S. uniform than Bocanegra. The Americans won 34 games with Bocanegra as their captain.
“Carlos has been an outstanding ambassador for U.S. Soccer,” said Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer. “As a player, a captain and a leader, he has epitomized the best of what it means to be a member of the national team throughout his career. We are all extremely proud of everything he has accomplished, and look forward to working with him in continuing to help grow the sport in the country.”
The UCLA product began his pro career with the Chicago Fire in 2000, earning the MLS Defender of the Year award twice. He spent four years with Fulham before moving to France with Rennes and Saint-Etienne.
After stints in Scotland with Rangers and in Spain with Racing Santander, he returned home to Chivas USA in July 2013.
Bocanegra will join U.S. career scoring leader Donovan in retiring after the MLS season. U.S. goalie Tim Howard is taking a sabbatical from international play until September 2015.
The U.S. team’s final scheduled home match of 2014 is Oct. 14 against Honduras in Boca Raton, Florida. Donovan is scheduled to play his final match for the Americans on Oct. 10 in East Hartford, Connecticut, against Ecuador.
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