Monday, May 13, 2013

Jeff Agoos' Legacy

Agoos Opts For Road To Retirement
(By Dylan Butler,, 2006)
He's the most decorated player in MLS history and on Wednesday, Jeff Agoos closed the door on what is surely a Hall of Fame career, announcing his retirement after a 10-year MLS career.

During those 10 years Agoos was a nine-time All-Star, won an unprecedented five MLS Cup titles and was named to the league's all-time Best XI.  "I've come to the time in my life where I'd like to step back and look at different avenues of life and see where they lead," Agoos said in a statement.  Agoos, who was known for his long flowing hair as much as his ability as a left back, was an MLS original, helping lead D.C. United to MLS championships in 1996, 1997 and 1999. He also played in the 1998 MLS Cup final, a loss to Bob Bradley's Chicago Fire.  "D.C. was my first choice in starting my professional career in the U.S.," Agoos said. "I was very lucky to have spent my first few professional years under Bruce [Arena] and the coaches at D.C.  Kevin Payne and his staff were first rate and provided the foundation for success in D.C."  In 2001, Agoos was traded to a San Jose Earthquakes and was named captain of the struggling franchise by Frank Yallop. There the team went from last to first and won two more MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003. He was also named to the Best XI in 1999 and 2001. Agoos was also named MLS Defender of the Year in 2001.  "I knew from the first week there was something special about San Jose," Agoos said. "Frank Yallop and the players gave me so many incredible memories that I will cherish."

     Agoos was traded to the MetroStars for a fourth round pick in last year's SuperDraft and was brought in to provide veteran leadership -- and his winning pedigree -- to one of the youngest teams in the league.  He was an instant leader, both on the field and in the locker room. Although his best days were clearly behind him, Agoos was a tireless worker and his work ethic rubbed off on the Metros' younger players like Eddie Gaven.  Agoos played in 244 games, starting in all but seven during his 10-year MLS career. He finished with 11 goals and 25 assists, received 28 yellow cards and was red-carded just twice.  Agoos' playing career started in Dallas where he was tapped for U.S. youth teams. He began his national team career in 1983-as a member of the U-16 team-and he went on to earn 134 caps (second all-time) for the full national team. He played in two World Cups -- France in 1998 and Korea in 2002, where he helped lead the U.S. to its best finish ever.  Agoos was also a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic squad that finished fourth, the best finish ever for the men's soccer program.  

     "I can look back on my career with a big smile and be satisfied with my achievements both on and off the field," said Agoos, who lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two children. "I look forward to the next phase of my life with my family."  If there's a regret for Agoos, it's not being able to get another ring with the MetroStars.  "I'll tell you. I'd trade all five in for one here in New York," Agoos said before deciding to retire. "I think it's very important for this city, this town, these fans to get a championship. The thing about winning championships and you can ask somebody who's won one, when you win one or two or however many, you want more. It's never enough. So there's quite a lot of hunger and passion to get a championship."  With Agoos now retired, D.C. United's Jaime Moreno is the reigning ring king of MLS with four.  "They're kind of like kids," Agoos said of his championship rings. "You love them all in different ways. Every ring has a different meaning and a little bit different substance behind it."


Agoos Not To Be Overlooked
(By Marc Connolly,
Let's just get the own-goal talk out of the way.  It's not like Jeff Agoos isn't used to hearing about it. And he will always hear about it long into his retirement. But, hey, if you're going to score an own goal, you might as well hit a blinder like the one Goose hit past Brad Friedel.  On the day of his retirement from professional soccer, it's time to look back on his misfortunes over in Asia at the last World Cup and realize that: A. His gaffe against Portugal did not change the result of the match. The U.S. held on for a 3-2 victory.  B. The penalty kick he was responsible for (saved by Friedel) and missed mark against South Korea in a 1-1 tie did not end up hurting the U.S. in the long run. Despite some anxious moments in the loss to Poland, Bruce Arena's side got through.  So Bill Buckner he is not.  Some tribute article thus far, huh?  What will be forgotten about Agoos regarding the 2002 World Cup is how he was the best defender for the Americans and one of the top three or four players for Arena throughout a very tough year-plus of qualifying in 2000-2001. Along with Earnie Stewart, they were the only players to take part in all 10 matches in the final round of qualifying in '01. On a team without many leaders, and certainly without vocal type of leaders, Goose was able to organize the U.S. back four and serve as an extension of the coaching staff on the field. Many of the current players have quietly mentioned how the backline had to go through a transition period once Agoos was no longer in the mix to right the ship.

     While Agoos probably would have been on the cover of several magazines highlighting his errors in the World Cup had he played for a national team in a different country, he also would have been celebrated for winning five MLS Cup titles as the Major League Soccer's version of Bill Russell. He'd have had the obligatory photo of him wearing all the rings standing next to a young, ring-less teammate like Eddie Gaven or Mike Magee with a "Listen to Me" headline and the whole bit.  The fact that Agoos was a part of more MLS Cup championship teams than any other player that has passed through the league the last 10 years is no accident. He was not just some innocent bystander who rode the coattail of others. On the great D.C. United teams of the '90s, Agoos wasn't the player who you came to see or left talking about. Marco Etcheverry, Jaime Moreno and a host of others fit that bill. But there wasn't a more valuable player on the team. His command in the back and ability to help bring the best out of a young Eddie Pope was something Arena cherished. He knew he could rely on him, too, after coaching him for four years at the University of Virginia and watching him serve as a UVA volunteer assistant in 1995 before MLS started.  
Arena would probably tell you that it was one of the thrills of his life in 2002 to see his former player finally take part in a World Cup. After being the last player cut by Bora Milutinovic in 1994 and not seeing the field under Steve Sampson in 1998 despite being such a big part of qualifying the year before, having Agoos as part of the starting lineup to open the World Cup in '02 seemed to right a few wrongs from the past.  "It has been difficult for him," said Arena three days before the start of the competition. "But he has had unbelievable longevity with the national team program and has 130 caps to date. He has played quite well in his career with the national team and his greatest quality that he brings to our team has been his consistency. I think wherever we have played him, he has been consistent throughout the years. I think that has also been one of his qualities in MLS, with every team he has been with he has been very steady. He generally brings a lot of quality to the field and certainly some experience as well, with our group."

     He also brought the biggest set of calf muscles this country has ever seen and a ponytail that always made him look a lot more like a hard-hitting loose cannon than the cerebral and soft-spoken player that he was.  When picking my Best XI for the first 10 years of the league, I anguished over which midfielders and forwards to include and leave out. But when picking the backs, it was fairly easy, since the list of great backs over the course of the league starts and end with Agoos and Eddie Pope. Only after those two does it start getting debatable.  Hopefully, over time, that is what soccer fans in this country remember when they think of Jeff Agoos.

Agoos: Much To Be Thankful For
(By Jeff Agoos, USSoccerPlayers website)
Hello all and welcome to our monthly "chat."  Since this is the beginning of a series of articles I'll be writing for, I thought it would be appropriate to start with the end of something: my career.  Looking back, it seems that the championship game in 2003 was the start of the end for me. I don't think I could've told you that at the time, but hindsight is 20/20.  The following year we had a lackluster season in San Jose. Changes occurred in the front office that made it hard to want to stay there. Thus, I looked at the options and what was going to be best for my family. Since my wife has family in the New York area, I thought a move to the MetroStars would be a smart final move in my career. I really had hoped for good things to come with NY, as I left behind many good friends and many good times in California.  We had a very young team in New York last season, but there was promise. However, I think there were expectations outside of the locker room that just didn't match what we could accomplish. But, as many know, in this league the champion is determined in four games, and we hoped we could finish strong.  Once again, there were distractions with a midseason front office change and, again, the internal environment suffered. The writing seemed to be on the wall to end my career sooner rather than later. I would have loved nothing more than to go out with a championship, but it just wasn't to be.  However, I can look back on a phenomenal career.  It really was memorable, not because of the number of championships or accolades I earned over the years, but rather because of the relationships and people I came to know. Still, I can say that no other player in MLS has won a championship every other year. That is something I am very proud of.

     Though I am not involved in a preseason camp for the first time in 11 years, I know how the players are feeling and what they went through during this past off-season. November and December are either very good months or very bad months for a player. They can be great months to relax and let your body heal, provided you had won the championship. However, if you don't win, those months can be frustrating and long. You replay in your mind what mistakes you made and what you could've done to fix them for the next time.  In December, I generally started to ease back into a training program that provides a base for the preseason. Once January rolls around, that training program intensifies so that your body can adapt and you don't sustain injuries before the start of preseason. That's immensely important since preseason is the key to building your foundation for the rest of the season. If you can stay healthy during preseason you have a great chance to be healthy and strong the rest of the season. Once you get to the end of March you are home free, and all the hard work will have paid off. This regimen was what I did from the start of the Major League Soccer 10 years ago.  It seems strange now not to have to go workout or have to lift weighs or have to stretch. In a way, I miss the pressure of the upcoming season. But I've found that it's really enjoyable to go to the gym when I want to and not worry about what I have to do. When I workout now, I do the things that I want to do, and it really does seem to be better that way.

     Much of my free time now is spent with my family. I have two daughters (5 years old and 17 months) that take up a lot of that time. I really haven't had the chance to be around them and be there for them in the way I'm able to now. The time spent with them has been a gift, and I'm not sure if many fathers get this kind of time with their daughters. I won't be in Ecuador for 3 weeks or Mexico for 10 days this winter. For that I am thankful.  When I left last preseason and came back home weeks later, it seemed like I had two different girls. Any father knows how much kids change when you are gone for an extended amount of time. For this reason and many others I knew it was time to retire. I know that when April rolls around and the league starts that there will be things I will miss. But I know that having this time with my wife and my kids is invaluable, and I am grateful for that.  I'm not sure what the future holds, but I do know I am a very lucky guy.


MLS All-Time Best XI team unveiled
(By Jonathan Nierman,
     Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced the RadioShack MLS All-Time Best XI, as selected by fans, general managers and media on, on Friday at the MLS Cup 2005 Media Luncheon, held at Pizza Hut Park's Verizon Wireless Club. The All-Time Best XI was named in celebration of the league's 10th season and just two days before its 10th championship game, as the New England Revolution will meet the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday at Pizza Hut Park (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) to crown a new champion.  There were few surprises in the final list, with all those selected having reached great heights in their MLS careers. Five members of the Best XI are still active players in the league, while another is now serving as a head coach (Peter Nowak, D.C. United), one only recently played his last professional game (Preki, Kansas City Wizards) and one will be on display in Sunday's encounter (Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy).

The MLS All-Time Best XI by position:


Tony Meola: Current MetroStars goalkeeper Tony Meola ran away from the competition to win recognition on this list fairly easily. A fixture on the U.S. soccer scene for more than a decade, Meola has posted great numbers in MLS and with the U.S. national team throughout his impressive career. He won an MLS Cup in 2000 as a member of the Kansas City Wizards, also earning Honda Most Valuable Player and Pepsi Best XI honors after an amazing campaign. Meola was selected as an MLS All-Star on five occasions (1996-98, 2000, 2002) and is the all-time league leader in saves (1,045) and shutouts (57). The Kearny, N.J., native was also a member of three World Cup teams and he earned 99 caps for the USA.


Eddie Pope: Pope has achieved just about everything imaginable for a defender in the United States. He has won three MLS Cups, been named the league's top defender (1997), scored what many believe to be the biggest goal in MLS history and represented his country on the world's biggest stage. A North Carolina product, Pope is now with his third MLS team in his 10th season, leading the Real Salt Lake defense. He won three championship rings in his earliest years, winning MLS Cups as a member of D.C. United in 1996, 1997 and 1999. He scored the game-winning goal in overtime for the Black-and-Red in the league's first championship game to kick off D.C. United's early dynasty. Pope is still earning caps for Bruce Arena's U.S. men's national team, with 73 to his name to date. Pope also was named to the Best XI in four seasons.

Jeff Agoos: A teammate of Pope's at D.C. United under Arena, Agoos has also been around the block in MLS. Currently a member of the MetroStars, Agoos has won more MLS Cups than any other player in league history. He played a pivotal role in earning five championship rings in 10 seasons, the first three as a member of D.C. United and the other two with the San Jose Earthquakes (2001, 2003). A multi-year Best XI pick and All-Star, Agoos, who hailed originally from Dallas, was also a member of two U.S. World Cup teams, seeing action in the 2002 competition as the U.S. advanced to the quarterfinal round.

Marcelo Balboa: One of the most recognizable defenders in MLS history, Marcelo Balboa has been around U.S. soccer since before the time when the league even existed. He flew onto the radar with a superb performance for the U.S. national team at the 1994 World Cup and then went on to star for the Colorado Rapids in the league's first six seasons. After a brief stint with the MetroStars in 2002, Balboa decided to retire. He is still heavily involved in the league though, holding a front office position at the Rapids and working in television as a color analyst. Balboa earned 128 caps as a member of the U.S. national team.


Marco Etcheverry: Often regarded as the best player ever to play in MLS, Etcheverry was a midfield wizard, leading D.C. United to numerous championships during his eight seasons in Washington. The Bolivian helped D.C. win three MLS Cups, a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and an InterAmerican Cup. In nearly 200 games for the Black-and-Red, Etcheverry proved himself to be incredibly skillful, frightfully competitive and usually successful. He earned Honda MLS MVP honors in 1998, received MLS Goal of the Year honors in 1999 for a 50-yard strike and he was named to the Radio Shack MLS Best XI four times (1996-1999).

Landon Donovan: Still only 23, Donovan will wrap up his fifth MLS season Sunday when he shoots for his third MLS Cup championship. After starting his professional career in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen, Donovan returned to his home state in 2001 to join the San Jose Earthquakes, promptly helping take the team from worst to first as they won their first Alan I. Rothenberg trophy. The Quakes would repeat the feat in 2003, thanks in no small part to Donovan's heroics. Donovan has scored 44 career goals in 109 regular season games, but he seems to take his play to another level in the postseason. He is MLS's all-time leading goal scorer in the MLS Cup Playoffs, finding the back of the net 14 times. One of the greatest talents ever to come from the United States, Donovan has already racked up 73 caps and 25 goals under Bruce Arena.

Carlos Valderrama: Colombia's greatest-ever soccer asset, Carlos Valderrama was also one of Major League Soccer's best acquisitions. Known worldwide both for his immaculate skill and blond mane, Valderrama was a magician with the ball and probably the greatest passer ever to take the field in MLS. Valderrama holds the all-time record for career assists with 114 in 174 matches. His seven-season MLS career was split between the Tampa Bay Mutiny, the Miami Fusion and the Colorado Rapids. Valderrama was named the Honda MLS MVP in the league's inaugural season, was a three-time RadioShack MLS Best XI selection and an All-Star on six occasions. He was named the All-Star Game MVP in both 1996 and 1997.

Preki: A similar player to Valderrama, Preki also had the vision, creativity skill to rake in assists, particularly with his gifted left foot. A native of Yugoslavia, Preki had been a star in the U.S. indoor soccer scene before the first MLS season in 1996. He immediately and effortlessly made the transition to the outdoor game, where he would go on to assist on 112 goals during his 10 seasons. Earlier this season, Preki announced that the 2005 campaign would be his last, and he celebrated by scoring a 90th-minute goal against FC Dallas in his last game. Preki was an MLS All-Star on eight occasions, a member of the Best XI four times (1996, 1997, 2001, 2003), the Honda MVP and Budweiser Scoring Champion twice (1997, 2003).

Peter Nowak: A former international for Poland, Nowak played in MLS for five seasons as a member of the Chicago Fire (1998-2002). Following the end of his playing career, Nowak found a new role in the league, spending one season in the Fire front office before signing on as D.C. United's head coach prior to the 2004 season. It was under his leadership that the storied club returned to its early heights, as he led D.C. to an MLS Cup title in his first season at the reins.  He was no stranger to championships, though, having captained the Chicago Fire to their only crown in their first season in 1998.


Jaime Moreno: The other half of D.C. United's long-time Bolivian duo, Moreno is still going strong after 10 seasons in the league. He spent all but one year in MLS playing for D.C., with a short stop at the MetroStars in 2003. But after enduring injuries that slowed him down, Moreno returned with a vengeance in 2004, playing an MVP-caliber season to lead United to a fourth championship. His strong play continued in 2005, as he was a runner-up for the Budweiser Golden Boot with 16 goals and the Honda MVP. Moreno has notched 94 goals and 73 assists 217 games. Only Jason Kreis of Real Salt Lake has found the net more (100). Moreno was a Best XI selection in 1997, 1999 and 2004.

Brian McBride: U.S. international Brian McBride was the second forward chosen as an all-time Best XI member. An eight-year veteran of the Columbus Crew, McBride lit up the scoreboard consistently after being the first player selected in the inaugural college draft. He would total 62 goals and 45 assists between 1996 and 2003, before leaving to join Fulham Football Club of the English Premier League, where he has continued to exhibit his goal scoring prowess. An All-Star on five occasions (1996-1999, 2002), McBride used his tall frame and great jumping ability to become among the most dangerous aerial threats in the U.S. game. He has appeared in 90 games for the U.S. national team and was expected to lineup for the Red, White and Blue against Scotland on Saturday in Glasgow, but tightness in his groin has ruled him out of the friendly contest.

Similar to the other 2005 individual awards, the All-Time Best XI was selected using a weighted, three-pronged voting system. Fans (33.33 percent), MLS general managers (33.33 percent) and media (33.33 percent) each provided one third of the total votes. The formula used for determining the award winners involved assigning 33.33 total points to each category for a possible total of 99.99 points. Therefore if a player received 50 percent of the votes in any of the three voting categories, he would earn 16.67 points (half of 33.33) for that category.

Agoos, An American Idol
( website, 2008)

 The once-fiery temperament may have cooled, and the training kit may have been replaced by a suit and tie, but Jeff Agoos remains a football man through and through. Currently employed as the Sporting Director at Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit the New York Red Bulls, a role he has held since January 2008, the former international is clearly adapting well to life since hanging up his boots.  Originally brought to New York as Technical Director in January 2007 by then Red Bulls' supremo Bruce Arena, the determination to succeed that made Agoos an iconic figure in the USA's domestic game remains fiercely intact. Though he enjoyed plenty of lows as well as highs in his long career, with unproductive spells in Germany and England offset by 134 national team caps and five MLS winners' medals, the former defender was unfailingly positive when speaking to

Memorable moments:  "I've really been very fortunate. I've experienced so many great moments, more than I ever could have imagined when I was starting out," says Agoos, winner of the MLS Defender of the Year award in 2001. Chief among these experiences was the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, the then 34-year-old making three appearances before an injury against Poland ended his involvement. "Having been cut from the squad at the last minute in 1994 and spending the 1998 event on the bench, (in 2002) I finally played and made a contribution to the team's good showing." 

Another fond memory is the Nelson Mandela Farewell Game in 1999. "To be among players like Jean-Pierre Papin, Dunga and Abedi Pele and to meet Mr Mandela was more than a great honour, it was exceptional." Even more so than his first MLS title success with DC United? "I'm not one to rank memories in order of importance. They're all special in their own way."  His championship win in 1996, with Arena as coach, was a landmark achievement, coming as it did in the MLS's inaugural season. "There can only be one first time, and winning the first-ever edition was certainly memorable. Especially seeing as we had to fight back from being two goals down after 30 minutes," says Agoos. He won two further MLS championships, as well as the 1998 Inter-American Cup with the club from the capital, and has since been elected to the Black-and-Reds' Hall of Tradition, a "cherished honour of which I'm extremely proud".

Fast forward to 2001, a year when Agoos added another MLS title to his collection with San Jose Earthquakes, who he joined after leaving DC United for an unsuccessful loan spell with English side West Bromwich Albion. "The (San Jose) team had finished bottom of the league the season before, I was made captain and it needed an almighty amount of work and talent to get where we did," says Agoos , who later added another MLS crown with the Earthquakes, bringing his personal tally to a record five.  Agoos finally drew a line under his playing career in December 2005, after spending the best part of a decade in the MLS, but not before being voted into the league's All-Time Best XI. The left-sided defender was an MLS All-Star on no fewer than nine occasions, voted into the season's Best XI three times, and scored 11 goals and supplied 25 assists over the course of his 244 appearances. In the wake of a year's sabbatical, taken to spend time with his family and practice the guitar, one of his other consuming passions, Agoos returned to football via the front door.

"I totally wanted to stay in the sport, and Bruce Arena put his faith in me as his Technical Director," says Agoos. "I'm grateful to him for that," adds the former USA stalwart of his footballing mentor Arena. It was not the first time the ex-national team coach had come to Agoos' aid, having brought the player back to his roots at the University of Virginia as an assistant coach on his return from Germany in 1995 - the year before both switched to DC United.  With Arena now back in coaching after his recent appointment by the Los Angeles Galaxy, will the pair end up working together again in future? In football, as in life, only time will tell...

Facts and figures- Clubs: Maryland Bays (1991), Dallas Sidekicks 1991-92), Wehen Wiesbaden (1994-95), DC United (1996-2000), West Bromwhich Albion (2000), San Jose Earthquakes (2001-04), New York Metro Stars (2005); National team: 134 appearances (1988-2003); Honours: American Major League Soccer champion (1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003)


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