MLS- Toronto FC

MLS veteran defender Califf retires

DannyCaliffTFC1-VancouverWhitecaps (CanadianPress)


After a 14 year career in professional soccer that has taken him across North America and to Europe, Danny Califf has decided to step away from the sport.

The Toronto FC defender announced his retirement on Friday, ending his playing career but staying with the Canadian club as a scout. In a letter penned to fans, the 33-year-old Califf highlighted how he wanted to spent more time focusing on his family after realizing he wasn’t in his coach’s plans.

“Do I really want to train knowing every day that I am not in the coach’s plans to play? The answer is no,” Califf wrote in a letter on TorontoFC.ca. “It’s best to put my family and kids first, and to take an opportunity to still be involved in the game.

“My family has moved around the world to watch me play the sport I love. Now, I get to watch my three kids play the same sport that has given me so much.”

The veteran defender ends his career with 234 matches in Major League Soccer for five clubs. Califf was the sixth-overall draft pick in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft, joining the Los Angeles Galaxy and helping them to MLS Cup, Supporters Shield, CONCACAF Champions Cup, and U.S. Open Cup trophies.

In addition to his MLS accomplishments, Califf represented the United States with the U.S. Men’s National Team on 23 occasions, winning the Gold Cup in 2002 and 2005, as well as playing in the 2003 Confederations Cup and the 2007 Copa America. Califf’s last appearance came in 2009 a 2-2 draw at El Salvador in World Cup qualifying.

After five years with the Galaxy and one with the San Jose Earthquakes, Califf moved to Denmark, signing with Aalborg BK. After winning the Danish Superliga in his third season with Aalborg, he joined FC Midtjylland, staying through 2010 when he returned to MLS with the Philadelphia Union.

Despite being named the first captain in Union history, Califf lasted just two full seasons with the club, being traded to Chivas USA last year. This past offseason, the University of Maryland product signed with Toronto FC after being selected in the MLS Re-Entry Draft. Califf made just four appearances this season for TFC.


What do you think of this decision? What are your best memories of Califf?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Dinho

    As a friend and former teammate of Danny, it will be sad to not being able to watch him play anymore. He is a true professional, a great guy and family man.

    Congrats on a great career, Danny!!!


    • Put the ball betwixt the stix

      Agree. Danny’s been a great servant for the game for many years. Great example of the types of pros who have built this league and the USMNT program. I truly wish him the best!

      Thank you!


      • g-dub

        Well said. I always appreciated his hard nosed style. An impressive career for a good solid American pro. Best of luck to him.


    • Charles

      Well I doubt that TFC has money to throw around at guys just hanging around ?

      Scouting for TFC, talk about a low bar to hurdle over…..


      • Red I

        “Well I doubt that TFC has money to throw around at guys just hanging around ”

        You do realize that the team is owned by MLSE, probably the most financially successful corporate owner in North American Sports? They have crappy teams, but they have money to burn…

        That scouting title is merely a parting gesture from a company that has the money to pay people to leave, his scouting duties will probably consist of watching San Jose, Chivas and LA Galaxy games all summer with his family, and reporting on players they probably already know about.


  • jake

    He was a solid MLS player in his prime and a contributor to the national team for a little while as well. Good luck in your retirement, Dan!


  • Mark

    Califf came in the league around the same time as a number of highly touted defenders such as Bocanegra, Nick Garcia, Nick Downing, Ryan Suarez and Chris Gbandi. With the exception of Bocanegra, most of these guys were good MLS players who got a few sniffs at the national team but never quite lived up to expectations. To his credit, Califf probably got the most play with the national team and made it to Europe, so you have to give the guy credit for getting the most out of his ability and those sweet sideburns…

    Pretty good MLS defender for a long time…


    • Dinho

      Without being facetious, who is Nick Downing and Ryan Suarez. I have no memory of those guys….


      • Mark

        Both were high round draft picks (1 or 2) around the same time as Califf. Suarez had a decent career for a while before his skills started to fail him and he bounced around a bit. Downing was probably the lesser known of the two, though he was a high draft pick that didn’t end up playing very long as best I can remember.


      • Dinho

        I do remember Suarez now. A notorious hack. His career dwindled in a hurry….

        Still got nothing on Downing.


  • Matt

    Will also remember a great Olympics run to the semi-finals in 2000, before losing to a Spain team that included folks like Puyol and Xavi.



    I have watched Danny’s career for many years since he played with my son Sauldino at the Pateodores – also on this great little team were quite a few kids who made soccer their career (Ryan Futogaki, John Thorington, Byron Foss, Nelson Ramos) are a few I can remember –
    Time marches on, great memories and friendships established have remained throughout the years
    I am sure Danny will be as successful in his new career as in the past – his dedication and commitment to family and team will always be a constant.and stand him in good stead.
    I wish you all the best, thanks for the memories
    We still love you Danny – mw


  • Brett

    A respectable career, but let’s be honest, he didn’t leave much of a mark on the history of American soccer. I remember him mostly as an outsider during a time of growth and mediocrity who would occasionally earn a call up because he got regular playing time at his various clubs.

    Solid professional and I have respect for him to play this long. I have no doubt he would keep playing if he could still earn the minutes.


  • Josh D

    A traditional US CB: Hard in his challenges, a big presence in the box, and a hard worker. He wasn’t the most skilled, but he was determined. Hasn’t been his best in years. Glad he has time with his family now. Albeit, an MLS player probably gets far more time with their family than a typical working person in the US. I’d take that four month vacation.


  • Coach char

    It bums me out that people my age start retiring from the game. I played against him in high school. He was the best defender in Orange County at that time. Congrats on a great career.


  • The Imperative Voice

    Defenders don’t retire they just take their career out and break its legs.


  • Brad

    Got to meet him after a usmnt practice, before there were crowds, and lines. Nice guy. I used to love to use him when I played Fifa. Thanks, and happy trails.


  • chris_thebassplayer

    I enjoyed watching him play as a Quake, he was a good hard azz defender. He had a nice punky edge to him…probably the first tatty player in MLS, and he played with a lot of passion…and he could still make a nice pass out of the back.

    Wishing him and his family the absolute best…


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