I was fighting through this decision this past offseason and thinking, “How much longer am I going to play,” and “What do I want to do with my career?” I’m still hungry for the game and I want to play, but unfortunately you can’t play forever. The timing is right for me. It took me about six months to come to a final decision. 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.
Coming into the National Team at a young age, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you come into a setup where it could be such a scary situation. You had all these incredible veterans, and these guys created an environment and a culture for young guys to come into where they showed you respect and treated you as one of their own. I think that was a big part of my learning experience on how to be a professional, how to be a leader and how to go about your business. That carried me throughout my career. It was invaluable to be brought up in that environment.
I think I’m most proud of my time spent with the National Team. Throughout your career you play for different clubs and have different experiences, but there has been one constant in my life and my career, and that’s the U.S. National Team. I’m just so proud that I got to represent the country for so long and play at the highest level I could.
I’ve been pretty fortunate in my career. One of most special opportunities was being able to captain the National Team. It’s a true honor and something I didn’t take lightly. When I can look back on my career, it’s something I’m very proud of and will cherish forever.
Some of my favorite memories came from just being around the guys. Being in that locker room, fighting together on the field, celebrating the victories, and even sharing the agony of defeat. The National Team was a big, big part of my life. I made so many lifelong friends from my career. I owe so much to U.S. Soccer for all the things I’ve been able to experience. Just being out there with the guys is what I’m going to miss the most.
When I think about memorable games, you have to throw in the Spain game in the Confederations Cup that got us to the final. They had some unbelievable
winning streak going on, and we knocked them off their post. In 2006, we played Italy in Kaiserslautern. The fans were amazing in that game, it was in a
World Cup, and Italy was the eventual champion. The game had everything: red cards, blood, sweat and tears, and we got a draw, so that was cool. And
obviously there was the Algeria game in 2010 that advanced us to the knockout stage. We put in so much work and effort, and it came down to almost a
walk-off goal, so to speak. You watched the reactions on YouTube around the country – now imagine that feeling going through every player’s body times 10
because of the relief and the joy we all felt.
With my National Team career, I’ve been very fortunate to play under Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann. I learned something from each of them, and I think I grew tremendously as a player and a person.
There are a lot of memories from the different club teams. You are making new friends, seeing new places, and experiencing new cultures. Soccer has shown me the world, and I grew up and became the man I am because of it. One that sticks out was my time at Rangers. It was a fantastic experience at the top club in the country. To have the chance to play in front of 52,000 fans every game at Ibrox was incredible. That showed me how much I love soccer and how much supporters can be a part of a club and even be part of a culture. Those things you never forget.
When I finish my playing career, I’m looking to stay involved with soccer at the top level. I’m eager to be a part of something special. I have the hunger and the drive and the desire to keep being involved, and that’s not going anywhere. I’m excited, and I look forward to what’s coming next.
My name is Brad Smith and I am the official photographer of the U.S. Women's National Team. I joined the WNT as a full-time staff member back in March of 2015 and it has been an incredible experience so far. For this year in review, the choices I made are subjective and personal. They include on-and-off the field moments, and capture the emotions and experiences that players and fans alike navigated in 2017. Some are also just cool photos, but I'm also probably a little bit biased. I hope you enjoy my picks, and I’ll see you all (more than likely through my lenses) in 2018!
- Brad Smith, U.S. WNT Photographer
"Does it rain much in Los Angeles? No, but the team seemed to have no trouble finding it there last January Camp."
"I’m always on the lookout for something different. Gym sessions are just that.
Then when you add some soft window light to a shadow boxing Ashlyn Harris, you get something special."
"When you practice at a college campus, word travels fast. During training at the University of Maryland,
a deserted pitch soon became a surrounded stadium."
"Winners on the field, winners off the field. While the team was in Frisco, we made a special visit to a local hospital.
Rose Lavelle even got a dance lesson."
"One of my favorite action photos of the year because it’s such a story-telling image. Not only does it have fantastic action,
but as you look over Allie Long to the right you realize the ball is going in for a goal over the keeper. "