End of the line for Chris Klein. The former Kansas City, current Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder will hang up his cleats when the season closes.
He is one of the most consistent MLS players of all time -- he owns the record with 141 consecutive games played and 118 games started (from June 11, 2005-April 11, 2009 Klein started every regular season game in which his team played).
He was also a pretty decent dude. "Soccer players are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but even among that group of athletes, Chris Klein stood out," said my colleague Pete Grathoff. "He is just a really good guy."
Klein ranks fifth all time in Major League Soccer in regular-season games (322) and has scored 49 goals and registered 69 assists. (He scored 39 of those goals and plucked 45 of those assists in a Wizards kit.
"The decision to step away from the game after 13 years is a difficult one, but one that I am ready for," Klein said. "I have had an amazing journey in MLS. I’ve had the ability to play with hundreds of teammates and for some of the best coaches that this league has ever produced, and I was able to forge relationships with them that extend beyond the soccer field. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to play in front of some incredible fans in Kansas City, Salt Lake and now here with the Galaxy; and those are the people that I will really miss."
He is a native of St. Louis, Mo., and began his 13-year MLS career with the Wizards as the fourth pick of the 1998 MLS College Draft. He was an integral part of the Wizards' 2000 MLS Cup Championship, assisting on Miklos Molnar's game-winning goal and a four-time All-Star.
The Wizards traded him to Real Salt Lake prior to the start of the 2006 season and spent a year and a half with the club, scoring eight times and adding nine assists in 43 games before being traded to the Galaxy. Used at both right back and on the right side of midfield for the Galaxy, Klein quickly became a fan favorite upon arriving in LA, cementing his position in Galaxy lore when he scored one of the most famous goals in club history, a bicycle kick in the final seconds of regulation in the Final of the inaugural SuperLiga that tied the score at 1-1 and sent the match to extratime.
A two-time MLS Comeback Player of the Year, winning the award in 2002 and 2005 after coming back from a torn ACL that he suffered in each of the previous seasons, Klein was capped 22 times by the U.S. National Team after making his international debut in a 2-0 win over Mexico on October 25, 2000. He had five goals and three assists in his international career, including a goal and two assists in a 4-0 win over Guatemala at Pizza Hut Park in February 2006.
"The most important thing to me throughout this journey has been the support of my family. My wife Angela, and our two kids Carson and Cami, I’ve taken them from Kansas City to Salt Lake City and now Los Angeles and they have been a tremendous anchor for me," Klein said. "Additionally, I am blessed by the way in which God has taken care of me both physically and spiritually all the way from when I began my career in 1998 until today. It has been amazing to see the path that He has had me on and something that I hope to continue after this year. I have been playing this game since I was a kid and I am very thankful to be able to be able to do what I love for the past 13 years and to walk away from that is going to be an adjustment, but I believe that God prepares us for different seasons in our life and He has prepared me to start a new one."