Carlos Bocanegra became the newest United States international to announce his formal retirement from professional football.
The 35-year-old defender broke the news on Twitter:
Carlos Bocanegra @BocaBoca3
I will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2014 MLS season.9/4/2014, 11:06:30 PM
Plenty of teammates and other American soccer luminaries saluted the retiring star:
Jürgen Klinsmann @J_Klinsmann
A huge, huge compliment to @bocaboca3 on a great career. An outstanding player, captain and role model for the #USMNT. Congrats !!9/4/2014, 11:49:03 PM
Eric Avila @EricAvila12
I'm going to miss this guy @BocaBoca3 #legend #ThanksLos #blackmouth http://t.co/15M7i9qS8f9/5/2014, 12:11:16 AM
Sunil Gulati @sunilgulati
Congrats to @BocaBoca3 on an amazing career. Couldn’t have asked for a better person to serve as the #USMNT captain. http://t.co/ZGdZOga1mk9/4/2014, 11:13:52 PM
Chicago Fire @ChicagoFire
Former #cf97 defender & #USMNT captain @BocaBoca3 called an end to a fine career today. #ThanksLos for the memories! http://t.co/8hbc5qKuf49/4/2014, 11:36:01 PM
U.S. Soccer @ussoccer
Former #USMNT captain @BocaBoca3 has announced his retirement at the end of this season. Congrats, Carlos! http://t.co/PLL7ajCCLW9/4/2014, 11:17:20 PM
Bocanegra's club career spans the globe. After spending four years with the Chicago Fire, he moved on to Fulham. Following a successful stint in England, the center back headed to France, where he played for Rennes and Saint-Etienne. Bocanegra then made brief stops in Scotland and Spain before going home to play for Chivas USA.
Most U.S. Soccer fans will remember Bocanegra for his national team career. His 110 caps are tied for seventh all time, according to USSoccer.com. His 14 goals are the most for an American defender, one ahead of Marcelo Balboa's 13.
Bocanegra played a pivotal role on 2006 and 2010 U.S. World Cup squads, captaining the side and moving wherever Bob Bradley needed him on the back line. He had since been pushed to the periphery by current national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
MLSSoccer.com's Matthew Doyle felt what helped to set Bocanegra apart was his ability in the air despite not being a colossal physical presence:
Here's what Bocanegra said to ESPN Magazine back in 2012: "Now I think playing football helped me because I bring some of that aggressiveness to the soccer field. I enjoy smashing into someone and embrace physical contact."
That he did. Bocanegra attacked the ball in the air like few players I have seen, right up there with Tim Cahill and Fabio Cannavaro in terms of guys who were less than 6 feet tall. He was an aerial force, especially in scoring situations - something reflected in his goal total for the USMNT.
This is truly a transitional period for U.S. soccer. Landon Donovan's already announced his retirement, while Tim Howard is taking a yearlong hiatus from the national team. You wonder if that's only the tip of the iceberg for the Everton goalkeeper, who's 35 years old.
Between Bocanegra, Donovan and Howard, you're looking at 300-plus combined caps walking away from the national team—at least for the time being in Howard's case.
Klinsmann is already eying up a semifinal appearance in the 2018 World Cup. In order for that to happen, new players will have to emerge as leaders as the old guard moves aside. The United States need more players like Bocanegra.
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