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This Is The Los Angeles Galaxy: Clint Mathis

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IMay 2, 2010

This is Part Four in a series on the players that make up the 2010 Los Angeles Galaxy.

At 69 minutes into the Los Angeles Galaxy's 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Independence, a familiar face returned to the pitch in the colors of Los Angeles. As Alan Gordon took his spot on the bench, in his place was Clint Mathis.

For Mathis, this was his 250th appearance in a regular season match. One of MLS's most celebrated veterans, 250 appearances with five clubs in the same league is no small task.

Think about it. Here is a 33-year-old veteran who has spent nearly his entire career in Major League Soccer. This is a decade we are talking about, if you take away his time in Europe.

Clint Mathis was born on November 25, 1976 in Conyers, Georgia. Conyers, located 24 miles east of Atlanta, is the county seat and is named after Dr. W. D. Conyers, a banker from nearby Covington. Its legacy to the 1996 Summer Olympics is the Georgia International Horse Park, used for the equestrian and mountain biking competitions.

Conyers is also known for being the setting for a number of episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard, its notoriety for the juxtaposition of saloons and brothels next to churches and schools in the late 19th Century, and even more notoriety for being the centerpiece of a documentary involving a syphilis outbreak among local middle and high school students.

For Mathis, soccer was his passion. At a young age he began his career playing for the Rockdale Youth Soccer Organization and Georgia youth soccer bookends AFC Lightning alongside fellow U.S. international Ricardo Clark, who played for the Houston Dynamo before making the jump to Eintracht Frankfurt of the Bundesliga.

After leading the Heritage High Patriots to a state championship, Mathis played his college ball at the University of South Carolina, where he earned All-American honors in 1995 and 1997. Mathis would then be selected sixth in the first round of the 1998 MLS College Draft by the Los Angeles Galaxy.

In the early days of the league, the SuperDraft didn't exist; there was a College Draft and a Supplemental Draft for those who already graduated from college. This was eliminated in 2000 with the creation of the SuperDraft.

In his 65 appearances with the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1998 through 2000, Mathis scored 15 goals. Mathis would also go down in history for scoring the fastest goal for the Galaxy: 33 seconds, in a 1999 game against the Kansas City Wizards.

Midway through the 2000 season, Mathis was traded to the NY/NJ MetroStars (the forerunners of Red Bull New York) for Luis Hernandez. The MetroStars loved Mathis, and Mathis loved them back with his "I ♥ NY" shirt.

On August 26, 2000, he set an MLS record by scoring five in one game against the Dalls Burn (now FC Dallas). Mathis would finish the season with 16 goals and 14 assists and was named to the MLS Best XI.

More glory awaited Mathis, as he won the 2001 Goal of the Year Award. However, he tore his ACL in June. Mathis never got on track after recovering from that injury, and scored 13 goals in his remaining two seasons. Aggravating the issue was the league blocking a move by Bayern Munich to acquire Mathis, news that he did not take very well.

Eventually, Mathis was able to sign with Hannover 96 after 33 goals in 67 appearances for the MetroStars. With four goals in his first five games for Die Roten , the prospects of Mathis in the starting 11 for the lineup were looking quite rosy. However, then-manager Ralk Rangnick was sacked, and Ewald Lienen took over managerial duties.

In retrospect, it didn't seem to be a very wise decision by Lienen to keep Mathis on the bench; actually it may have contributed to his own dismissal in the 2004-05 season. Mathis showed his discontent with the decision-making in a September 25, 2004 contest, tapping his watch to Lienen as if to say "You should have brought me on the pitch sooner!"

That would be his penultimate match with Hannover 96. During his stay with the club, he scored five times in 17 apperances.

In December 2004, Mathis joined John Ellinger's Real Salt Lake, who were in their inaugural season. It wasn't a productive return to MLS, as he managed just three goals in his first stint for RSL (27 apperances). The following December, Mathis was traded to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for Jeff Cunningham. This time, it was even worse for Mathis, who scored just twice in 25 appearances for Colorado.

Another trade awaited Mathis, who was swapped on March 29, 2007 to the renamed and rebranded Red Bull New York for draft picks in 2008 and 2009.

With a return to the old stomping grounds of Giants Stadium, Mathis was instrumental in his first home match donning the colors of the Red Bulls, tallying a goal and an assist in a 3-0 shutout of FC Dallas. In his second stint, which lasted nearly seven months, Mathis scored six goals in 26 appearances for New York.

Mathis had a brief second stint with the Galaxy, now with David Beckham, after being traded for a third round pick in the 2008 SuperDraft. At Stadium Australia in Sydney, he made his debut in front of 80,000 fans during a friendly with Sydney FC.

Fans of Crete club Ergotelis FC will see Mathis as a hero that saved the Canaries from relegation in the 2007-08 Super League Greece season. Down 2-1 in a match with Apollon Kalamarias, he scored a goal in the 91st minute to salvage a draw and save Ergotelis from the drop. That would be his only goal in eight appearances with the Heraklion club.

As a result of his heroics, Real Salt Lake signed Mathis in the offseason. In 39 apperances for RSL, Mathis only managed two goals but was instrumental in earning his first MLS Cup title by converting his penalty in the shootout over the Los Angeles Galaxy last November.

Mathis has also been called up to the USA Men's National Team. He earned his first cap against the Socceroos on November 6, 1998. Mathis made his mark during the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign and finals. He was also featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2002 World Cup preview issue. As of this article date, Mathis has scored 12 goals in 46 appearances for the Yanks.

On January 14, 2010, Clint Mathis was traded to the Los Angeles Galaxy for a number of draft picks during the 2010 SuperDraft. And after nearly five months of waiting, May 1 marked the day that Mathis finally returned to the club that launched his professional career.

250 appearances for club, 46 for country. 67 goals for club, 12 for country. Over a decade of playing the beautiful game for both.

You do the math. But don't forget to put the "-is" at the end. Otherwise you wouldn't be doing justice to the storied career of Clint Mathis.

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