CHICAGO (Sept. 4, 2014) – Former U.S. Men’s National Team captain Carlos Bocanegra has announced that he will retire at the end of the current Major League Soccer season. The two-time FIFA World Cup veteran and Chivas USA center back finishes a 15-year career for club and country as the USA’s all-time leading goal scorer for a defender.
“I’m still hungry for the game and I want to play, but unfortunately you can’t play forever. I was thinking about this in the offseason, and it took me about six months to come to a final decision,” said Bocanegra. “The timing is right for me. I’ve known for a little while now in my mind and in my heart. I’m happy with it, and I’m looking forward to the new challenges.”
Bocanegra, 35, captained the U.S. team 64 times during an international career that began in 2001 and concludes with 110 appearances. He played a total of 9,222 minutes in the USA uniform, the fifth-most of any player in team history. The Alta Loma, Calif., native played in two FIFA World Cups (2006, 2010), appearing in six matches. He is tied for fourth place among U.S. players with 31 games played in World Cup Qualifying with Kasey Keller, Eddie Pope and Claudio Reyna. Bocanegra participated in four CONCACAF Gold Cups and collected two titles, having captained the team to the 2007 championship.
Bocanegra was a member of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team that participated in the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria and won bronze with the U-23 team in the 1999 Pan American Games. The defender made his National Team debut against Korea Republic on Dec. 9, 2001, and with 110 career international caps, became the 12th U.S. player to surpass the 100-cap mark.
Bocanegra began his professional career with the Chicago Fire after he was drafted fourth overall out of UCLA in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft. He established himself as a starter with the Fire and was named MLS Rookie of the Year. Bocanegra helped lead Chicago to the 2000 MLS Cup final and won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship in 2000 and 2003. He added to his list of accolades as one of the league’s premier players by earning back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year honors in 2002 and 2003.
In January of 2004, Bocanegra took his talents to the English Premier League with Fulham. In his four years with the London side, Bocanegra appeared in 133 games, scoring eight goals while becoming one of the few players in U.S. Soccer history to captain both his club and country simultaneously. After his time in the Premier League, the defender moved on to the French Ligue 1 where he played for Stade Rennais (2008-10) and later AS Saint-Étienne (2010-12) before signing with Rangers. Bocanegra returned to MLS and his native California in July of 2013 when he signed with Chivas USA.
Bocanegra Career National Team Highlights
- With his goal against Guatemala on Oct. 16, 2012, became the USA’s all-time leading goal scorer for defenders with 14
- Tied for fourth among U.S. players for career World Cup qualifying appearances with 31
- Became the 12th U.S. player to reach 100 caps when he started in the 3-2 win against Slovenia on Nov. 15, 2011
- One of five U.S. players to play every minute of the 2010 FIFA World Cup
- Appeared in six World Cup matches spanning two tournaments
- Played in 15 of 18 World Cup qualifiers in the 2010 cycle, notching game-winning goals in Guatemala in the semifinal round and against Honduras in the final phase
- Captained the U.S. to the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, his second regional title after first winning in 2002
- Became one of the few players in U.S. Soccer history to simultaneously captain both his club side and the national team, which he did after captaining Fulham to a 3-3 draw against Tottenham on Sept. 1, and then took the armband for the USA in its game against Brazil on Sept. 9, 2007, in Chicago