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Tuesday April 20th, 2021 5:12AM

Larentowicz retires after 16 years in Major League Soccer

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) — Jeff Larentowicz has retired after a 16-year career in Major League Soccer that included more than 400 appearances and championships in Colorado and Atlanta.

The 37-year-old Larentowicz closed out his career with Atlanta United, helping the team win the MLS Cup title in 2018, its second season in the league.

United announced in November that Larentowicz would not be back after his contract expired. After considering his options, Larentowicz officially retired Monday in a statement released on social media.

He also played for New England, Chicago and LA Galaxy during his MLS career, finishing with 437 regular-season league appearances — including 397 starts — as both a midfielder and a defender.

“He's a pro's pro,” said Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan, a teammate of Larentowicz's the last four seasons. “He was one of the leaders here at this club. To see the career he's had, the amount of work he's put into his career, I tip my hat to him.”

Among non-goalkeepers, Kyle Beckerman was the only MLS player with more appearances (461). Beckerman (461) and Chadd Marshall (404) were the only field players with more starts than Larentowicz, who logged 39,206 minutes of playing time in league and playoff games.

“To the fans of New England, Atlanta, Colorado, Los Angeles and Chicago, thanks for your heart,” Larentowicz wrote in the statement. “Sometimes there were many of you, sometimes there were few, but if there's one thing we as sports fans have learned over the last 12 months (during the pandemic), it's that you make the game worth watching and playing. Thank you."

Larentowicz also thanked his family, support personnel and coaches, including former Atlanta manager Tata Martino for “gently stoking the flames in the dying embers of my time in the league — it was remarkable to watch you work.”

Martino coached United during its first two seasons before leaving to guide the Mexican national team.

After playing his college soccer at Brown, Larentowicz joined the New England Revolution in 2005. He was traded to Colorado in 2010, helping the team win the MLS Cup title in his first season with the Rapids.

Another trade sent him to Chicago in 2013, followed by a single year with Los Angeles before he moved on to Atlanta's expansion team in 2017.

Larentowicz became a highly respected figure on the field and in the locker room as United made the playoffs in its first season, won the championship in Year 2 and set numerous MLS attendance records.

“I know he'll be successful with whatever he does next,” Guzan said.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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