You can only be part of the Beautiful Game for so long. For Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein and defender Eddie Lewis, the 2010 Major League Soccer season will be the final season of their long, respective footballing careers.
“I’m just kind of looking forward to kind of taking a step back and perhaps come at the game from a slightly different angle now,” Lewis said on Tuesday.
“It’s never an easy decision to make,” Klein said on his retirement, “but I believe it’s the right time to step away and do something else. I’m very thankful for the past 13 years that I’ve played professionally. This is something I’ve been doing since I was five.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Lewis will go down as one of the best and most decorated players in the history of the U.S. men’s national team, with 10 goals and 16 assists in 82 appearances.
Klein also has 22 caps with the U.S. national team but will be more known for his longevity in MLS.
He began his 13-year MLS career when he was drafted fourth overall by the Kansas City Wizards in the 1998 college draft and ranks fifth in MLS history with 332 career regular season games played.
Klein also owns the league mark for consecutive games played at 141 and consecutive starts at 118.
“[Lewis was] just a fabulous player,” Arena said, “and I think everyone in the game will tell you there’s not a finer person. I think he’s arguably the finest left midfielder in the history of U.S. Soccer.”
“For me, every opportunity always seemed like a chance to try and prove something,” Lewis said of Arena's remarks. “I've never really stopped to kind of look back. It just seemed like everything’s been a progression and either personally trying to get to the next level or as a group or as a country trying to take the game to the next level.
“It’s certainly a wonderful compliment and I owe many of those memories to Bruce in a lot of ways. At the same time, the good news is there’s going to be tons and tons of wonderful young players coming through all the time. I’m very excited to see records shattered and players go on to great new heights. Certainly it’s a track we’re on.
“Like any memory, you end up kind of focusing on all the great things. The games certainly. I think and I’ve heard it a number of times, but I think the thing I’ll certainly miss the most is just the banter and the camaraderie in the locker room.
“I think that’s a difficult environment to recreate in almost any other professional setting …that will be hard. I enjoy the laughs, the teasing and joking and all that, and certainly the competition that goes with that on the field. But the camaraderie is something I’ll hold quite close to me for a long time.”
“Eddie was always one of the guys when I first joined the national team that I had the most respect for,” Donovan said on Lewis, “because he always competed the right way.
“At his age, knowing he has a few games left, it would be easy for him to kind of go through the motions and just be out here and enjoy it. He’s innately very competitive, and we like that about him. He’s pretty quiet, but he’s fun to be around. We’re going to miss him a lot next year.”
The Galaxy manager had similar amounts of praise for Klein.
“He’s had a great career,” said Arena, who gave Klein his international debut nearly a decade ago, “and he’s going to do well in his next career, whatever that is.”
“For fans, I’d like for them to remember me for playing the game the right way,” Klein said. “That I gave everything I had every time I was on the field. With my teammates, mostly that I cared for them in a different way.
“Now I guess I’m at a point of reflection to look back and think of starting and playing that many games in a row. I’m thankful to God that I was able to be healthy for that long. To have two major knee surgeries, to be able to come back and put together that many games in a row, I’m thankful for it.
“It’s something that I’m proud of.”
Los Angeles forward Mike Magee put Klein's contributions in perspective.
“The effect he’s had on this team you can’t really put into words,” Magee said. “He did kind of the same thing in Kansas City…he was a mainstay for them and one of the best players in this league.
“He was obviously your stereotypical iron man, played in every game, kind of brought leadership and good things to the locker room for many years, more than any other guy has. He’s accomplished things in this league that might not happen again.”
The Los Angeles Galaxy will wrap up their 2010 regular season when they take on FC Dallas on Oct. 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. PT and will be televised by Fox Sports West.
INS & OUTS
LA and the Jets
On Nov. 27, the Los Angeles Galaxy will travel to EnergyAustralia Stadium in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia to face Newcastle United Jets FC in an international club friendly.
“We are very excited to be returning to Australia, the site of one of our most memorable postseason matches, to play a friendly against Newcastle United Jets FC,” LA Galaxy President of Business Operations Tom Payne said on Tuesday.
“Newcastle are a club with a long tradition of success in the Hyundai A-League and are making great strides at strengthening their ties to the local community. We believe that this match will help the Jets further those ties while also providing all of their fans in the Hunter Region with memories that will last a lifetime.”
As of this writing, Newcastle are 10th place in the Hyundai A-League with a 1-3-5 record (eight points). This will mark the first-ever meeting between these two sides.
The Jets are led by former England international forward Michael Bridges, goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, former Australian international defender Ljubo Miličević, and forward Sasho Petrovski.
The Galaxy have had a history of playing friendlies in Oceania and this will be their third trip in the last four years. In November 2007, the club lost 5-3 to Sydney FC in front 80,295 fans at Telstra Stadium in Sydney, New South Wales.
After a quick turnaround, the Galaxy defeated Hyundai A-League side Wellington Phoenix 4-1 at Westpac Stadium in front of a then-record crowd of 31,853, which was the biggest ever to see a soccer game in New Zealand.
In 2008, the Galaxy returned to New Zealand, travelling this time to Auckland, where they defeated the Oceania All-Stars 3-0 at Mt. Smart Stadium.