Chris Klein and Eddie Lewis, two of the best midfielders ever to play for the United States, or in Major League Soccer, have both announced their retirement from professional soccer following the 2010 season.
While both have earned a great deal of respect for their play and professionalism over the last decade-plus, both have suffered from a deep drop in form the last three-or-four seasons. Thus retirement was only a matter of when, not if.
Klein, the No. 4 overall selection by the Kansas City Wizards in the 1998 MLS SuperDraft, scored 39 goals in 200 matches with the Wizards from ’98-’05. The 6-foot-1 winger was arguably the Wizards best player when the team won the MLS title in 2000, which was also the year he made his first appearance with the U.S. Men’s National Team. He scored five goals for the USMNT in 23 matches from 2000-’06.
With the Los Angeles Galaxy since ’07, Klein has scored just two goals in 89 appearances. Clearly, his time as a premier player had come to an end, though his steady contribution was considerable despite his lack of goal scoring.
Lewis, arguably the U.S’s best left-sided midfielder ever, spent 2000-’08 playing for four lower-division clubs in England, scoring 23 goals in 196 matches for Preston North End (’02-’05) and Leeds United (’05-’07). The 5-10 winger enjoyed the finest year of his professional career in ’07 with Leeds, when he was voted by the fans as the team’s player of the year.
A member of the USMNT since ’06, Lewis has scored 10 goals in 86 appearances, including the only goal in a 2-1 loss to Mexico in a qualifying match for the ’06 World Cup. Though he transitioned to left back after the emergence of younger left-sided players, Lewis remained a viable option until ’08, when he played his final match.
Lewis has played with the Galaxy since ’08, netting three goals in 82 appearances with the club. Leg injuries have plagued him as of late, as time has seemingly caught up with the 36-year-old.
So yes, they’ve been good players for their clubs and country. Even great, at times. But their time has come. And it’s refreshing to see players with the class to call it a career before their clubs suffer from their inability to chase, tackle and score, and allow younger, more in-form players to take their turn.