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Bocanegra to retire at end of 2014 season

Carlos Bocanegra

Carlos Bocanegra is calling it a career.

The former U.S. Men’s National Team captain and Chivas USA defender has announced that he will retire from the sport at the end of the current MLS season.

Bocanegra made 110 appearances for the USMNT, playing in two World Cups and scoring 14 goals, most in U.S. history by a defender.

Drafted in 2000 by the Chicago Fire, the 35-year-old defender won MLS Rookie of the Year, MLS Defender of the Year (twice), and helped lead the Fire to a pair of U.S. Open Cup titles (2000, 2003) before moving to Europe, where he spent a decade. Bocanegra enjoyed stints in England, France, Spain and Scotland before returning to MLS in 2013 and signing with Chivas USA.


What do you think of the news? What is your fondest memory of Bocanegra’s career? Where do you rank him among all-time U.S. defenders?

Share your thoughts below.



  1. Excellent, excellent player and a rock for the backline.

    I wish him the very best and I agree with others that he should get some sort of testimonial/mention as a last hurrah.

  2. I suspect Boca went from captain to never getting called again because he was the source of the Brian Strauss story in Sporting News. Or was suspected of it. Whatever. Let’s look at his whole career. he doesn’t need to play in the testimonial — and perhaps he cannot, due to injury — but I think they should honor both him and Landon before the game. Their careers overlapped closely and I don’t think Landon should be offended if Boca is given a round of applause with him.

    I also believe Boca was the 1st Mexican-American to star for the USA, in the modern era at least. There were many other Latinos — Tab Ramos, Hugo Perez, Carlos Llamosa, etc. But they were Central or South Americans, not of Mexican descent. Mexico is our biggest rival on the field and for dual national talent that’s raised here (ie non Germaricans). It was never a question for Boca that he was 100 percent for the USA.

  3. Boca deserves to be recognized at the Landon send-off or at another USA game. He should be a Ring of Fire pick at Toyota Park, too. These are my favorite Boca memories:

    * In his home debut for the Fire (which was also Stoichkov’s home debut) in 2000. Boca marked Diego Serna of the Fusion out of the game. From then on, Boca was a regular in the best team to not win MLS Cup. (Ridiculous that he was not picked for the Olympic team that year and crazy that Nick Garcia got Rookie of Year over him).

    * I believe it was the 03 Gold Cup semifinal in Miami, USA vs Brazil. I watched it in a bar in DC wearing a Fire jersey. DC United fans chided me for allegedly putting club over country, but we all cheered together — and they all bought the Chicago fan a drink when Boca scored to tie the game. He toughed it out to the bitter end in OT despite injury (US had used all subs).

    * 2010 World Cup qualifier at Soldier Field vs. Honduras. In a scrappy, come-from-behind, crucial win, it was Boca who flew headfirst into a goalmouth scrum to get the winner.

    The only time I remember seeing him beaten badly and scurrying back in vain was in OT vs Ghana at World Cup 2010, on Asamoah Gyan’s goal, and in the 03 MLS Cup final, by Landon Donovan of the Quakes.

    He deserved better than the cluster&%@# he had to endure at Chivas USA, Rangers and Santander in the end of his club career.

    Given his age, form and injuries, he did not merit continued selection in the US team, so I’m not blaming Klinsmann. But for his valor in 100+ caps, he does deserve more than being unceremoniously dropped, so let’s hope he gets a warm, official send-off of some sort. I trust that too would not be awkward for Jurgen?

    • As far as I can tell, US soccer has never had a “send off” game like this for anyone besides Donovan.

      I love Los but if Dolo, Reyna, Pope, Ramos, Keller, Hejduk or McBride, just to name a few, don’t get a send off then I don’t see Los gettting one.

  4. Whoever has worn the captain’s band over the last several years, I’ve always thought of them as wearing “Bocanegra’s band.” I’ll probably still think that way for a few more years.

    (The only exception being when Cherundolo wore it.)

  5. Remember the uproar when Jurgen stop calling him cause everybody assume he was still our best CB. With that said he was our best CB ever and will be missed

  6. Bocanegra is one of my favorite US players of all time. I almost wish he’d get a honorary call up like Landon for October. I know he couldn’t cut it NOW, but he didn’t deserve to be cut off the way he was….from armband to not even making the team. What?!?!?!

    • “I know he couldn’t cut it NOW, but he didn’t deserve to be cut off the way he was….from armband to not even making the team. What?!?!?”

      This is SOP in pro sport. The list of examples is way too long to include here.Sure there are classier or gentler ways to do it but they aren’t always possible.

      Do you think Joe Montana deserved to get pushed out of the 49ers or Manning deserved his treatment by the Colts.? It’s a business, get used to it. Not everyone can get the Derek Jeter farewell tour treatment.

      • I know. Somethings people forget that this is a cutthroat profession and not an intramural team where everyone gets a trophy and a good bye. Most guys understand and get it while the getting is good (I don’t get why people don’t understand why some players take a position for more money – can’t blame Bradley). Only a few (a hem) through a tantrum.

    • Was the smartest and most reliable defender we had when he was unceremoniously dropped (other than ‘solo who was battling long term injury). I imagine Klinsmann saw him as a threat.

      • Mr zip,

        Your factual recollection is a little selective. You could get a great job as a revisionist historian.

        JK gave Boca every chance to leads the USMNT to Brazil. Unfortunately for him Rangers blew up starting a series of events that eventually sabotaged Los’ form. Mostly he lost his consistency and his health, a terrible thing for a central defender.
        By the time JK pulled the plug on him, which convinced with the start of qualifying most people in SBI were lamenting the horrid state of the US back four especially the center backs. Moving Besler and then eventually Cameron, Gonzo and Brooks, into the primary centerback roles led to the eventual solidifying of the USMNT back four which, if memory serves, did quite well in Brazil.

      • Ya, there were injuries, Rangers falling apart and just so many things that no one had any control over. Like Age.

        It was JK. It was just life.

    • Donovan’s “honorary call-up” is a waste of time. Sure, it will attract some viewers, so it isn’t a waste of money, but it is a waste of time. Friendlies exist to give players experience; there is no point in providing experience to a player who has already promised retirement.

      I love watching Donovan play and would love to see a testimonial match for him, but trotting him out during a friendly is the wrong way to do it. You don’t honor a guy by having him waste the team’s time.

      • And thinking of that hypothetical testimonial: wouldn’t it be great to combine it with Donovan, Boca, and Dolo? Am I leaving anyone else out? That would be the proper way to pay tribute to our legends.

        But who would they play against…? Oh, I know: Ghana. Or Mexico. Or maybe Ghanexico.

  7. I really don’t like how the USMNT allocation order works in MLS. Boca deserved better than to finish his career at Chivas USA. I guarantee he would have taken a pay cut just to be a part of a half way decent team.

    Great career nonetheless. I’m glad to have witnessed him play such an integral role for the Nats over the years.

    • And he’s the first of that generation who really made money playing. The Harkes/Meola/Tab generation of the 90’s didn’t really make a lot of money. The Boca generation of 2000’s made some money. He’s got to be worth 10 million or so. He spent 9 years playing in EPL/Ligue 1/Rangers/La liga(on loan) making 7 figures each year. That is actually a selling point to young athletes who are risking everything.

  8. I know I am on a commenting binge, but the one big benefit we get out of some of our legends retiring is that we can hopefully create a much larger pool of former professionals to help coach and guide younger americans. Yes we had some before, but in the past few years we have gained or are gaining: Reyna, McBride, Keller, DeMerit, Bocanegra, Donovan. Players who have played both in top leagues abroad, domestically in MLS, and in world cups. Fantastic for our development as a nation to have guys like this now (hopefully) contributing on the other side of things.

    • I would like them all involved. However, I think Boca and McBride might make the best coaches (but that is conjecture on my part). I don’t LD as a coaching guy although I would love him to impart his vision on to younger players.

  9. Great servant and leader while he suited up for our country. In fact, I don’t recall hearing him mentioning any ill-will towards the Nats when he was no longer called up.

    Boca personified class.

  10. Ok, got it. I think a special memory of mine of him was when he passed to McBride who scored when they were both at Fulham. The announcer said “That’s a goal that was made in the U S of A!”

  11. Loved watching Boca play in his prime. Was he captain of Fulham for a season back when Fulham was very respectable PL club? Anyhow, great US soccer player, thanks Carlos!

  12. He should go back to Scotland and play one more year for Rangers.

    He really seemed to like it there and I’ll bet they could still use him.

  13. If we are giving Landon a sendoff in October, why not give Carlos one in the same game? They both deserve it. Landon had huge moments for us, but Carlos’ steadiness, consistency, and leadership with some shaky back line mates was quite impressive.

    • that would crowd out all the young guys we can bring in. Boca has been out of the fold since 2012 so i don’t expect him to get called up

      • Misleading, he was on the Honduras roster, he just sat. That was 2013.

        Wasn’t like Landon was some intergral part to the team at the end himself, skipped off for a while, came back and played a handful of games, then got cut in camp.

        Neither of them could be rewarded during the quali and buildup, it kind of had to wait.

        Boca was the team’s longtime captain. In fact, half the reason his descent was so dramatic was he went from wearing the armband to gone.

        To be real, there might be some bad blood but we should honor our leading lights and like Landon behaved like a boy scout. You can argue this is his reward for tantruming.

      • This is true but the fact is these guys are the past. The camps we have coming up are to help us filter out the young guys towards next years Gold Cup I know these guys want to retire and all that but we shouldn’t let them hold us back.

      • “Hold us back?” You play them 45 minutes in a single friendly, in the general midst of doing the trialing you suggest, for which we have dozens of games and three regional tournaments over the next few years.

      • Honoring a couple of USMNT legends doesn’t hold us back. We have 60-70 games and 45 months until we kick off in Russia.

      • This is a poor way to honor US legends. Hold a proper testimonial match. Bring in a bunch of them—at least four announced retirement this year. Have them take penalty shots at Lalas’ backside.

        Playing them in a friendly like this is not the right way to do it. Sure, from a broad perspective maybe it doesn’t hold “us” back, but it’s a little embarrassing to turn a training opportunity into a retirement party.

        P.S. JayAre was talking about preparing for the Gold Cup in 2015, not Russia in 2018. The WC is not the only competition we’re interested in.

    • If it can’t be worked out, I think Boca should just flip off the Chivas coaches (as though they care) and play his club match in a 2010 USA WC jersey, along with the armband. Give it 3 hours notice, and Chivas might actually sell out a game.

    • “If we are giving Landon a sendoff in October, why not give Carlos one in the same game?”

      Because Landon should have refused the call-up in October, citing his impending retirement and the desire to let future players play. Adding Carlos to the roster would only make it worse.

      • Yeah right. Landon is really hurting some young guys chances by playing one last friendly for his country when 6 subs are allowed. And some young kid who had done zero to earn it and made zero contribution to World Cup qualifying already got to play in a World Cup over Landon. Sunil Gulati will take all the extra ticket sales revenue that results from Landon playing in this friendly and stick it in young Julian Green’s pocket – I hear that was part of the deal for him to switch to the US.

      • I see what you did there (in case you did not mean to be sarcastic then I don’t see it and wholeheartedly disagree…)

      • Chippy zip: cry about Green somewhere else. It’s contradictory to claim that Landon isn’t taking anything away from young players and then cite Green making “zero contribution” before the World Cup. Where do we test these young prospects like Green? Oh, I know: in friendlies.

        P.S. Julian is not receiving any money for playing for the USMNT. The agreement is that he gets paid in Landon Donvan’s organs.

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