MLS career goals leader Chris Wondolowski announced his retirement Sunday minutes after playing in his final match.
The 38-year-old Wondolowski, a San Jose Earthquakes legend, scored his 171st career goal during the 1-1 tie with FC Dallas before saying goodbye in an on-field ceremony.
“Instead of doing this in a press conference, I wanted to do this in front of you guys because you’ve been there since Day One,” Wondolowski told the audience. “But this is the last ride.”
There were signs throughout the match that Wondolowski was playing for the final time.
The Earthquakes showed a video highlight reel of his career before the game, and Wondolowski’s two young daughters were with him as he took the field. Also, the team encouraged fans on multiple occasions to remain seated after the game for a “special presentation.”
Wondolowski played in 413 matches over 17 seasons and holds the MLS record of 46 game-winning goals. He also had 42 assists in his career.
Wondolowski, in the starting lineup Sunday for just the ninth time this season in 32 appearances, began his career with the Earthquakes in 2005 before going to Houston Dynamo FC (2006-09) and back to the Earthquakes (2009-21).
The five-time MLS All-Star was the 2012 league MVP when he set his career high of 27 goals. Wondolowski also won the Golden Boot twice (2010, 2012) as the league’s leading goal scorer.
He told NBC Sports Bay Area that it wasn’t easy to call it a career.
“Definitely a hard one,” Wondolowski said of the decision. “It came more the latter of this year. Soccer has always been a part of me.”
Wondolowski also made 35 appearances for the U.S. Men’s National Team between 2011-16 and scored 11 goals. He had five in the 2013 Gold Cup while helping the U.S. win the title.
Wondolowski had considered retiring after the 2020 pandemic-shortened season but ultimately decided he wanted to play in front of fans again.
–Field Level Media
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