Klein has no regrets in decision to retire

MLS Ironman to retire after 13-year career with three clubs

DL Klein vs KC

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora

CARSON,
Calif. – Calling it a career and leaving a game you’ve been
playing for almost 30 years normally would be a difficult decision for most
athletes, but not the LA Galaxy’s Chris Klein.

He knew it was time to go.

The 34-year-old, preparing
for his final regular-season game on Sunday against FC Dallas at The Home Depot
Center, realized before the start of this season there was a good chance it was
going to be his last, and he has no regrets about his recent decision to call
it a career and enter the next chapter of his life.

“It’s never an easy decision
to make,” he said, “but I believe it’s the right time to step away and do
something else. I’m very thankful for the past 13 years that I’ve played
professionally. This is something I’ve been doing since I was five.

“It’s going to be an
adjustment, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Klein, who began his 13-year
MLS career when he was drafted fourth overall by the Kansas City Wizards in the
1998 college draft, ranks fifth in MLS history with 332 career regular season
games played. He also owns the league mark for consecutive games played at 141
and consecutive starts at 118.

The Indiana
University product started every regular season game that his teams played from June 11,
2005 until April 11, 2009, a streak that ended on April 18, 2009 when the
Galaxy tied the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1. His consecutive games streak came to
a close on Sept. 26, 2009 when he was an unused substitute in a 2-0 loss at Columbus.

Klein also has 22 caps with
the U.S. national team, for
which he made his debut in a 2-0 victory over Mexico
in Los Angeles on
Oct. 25, 2000.

“He’s had a great career,” said
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, who
gave Klein his international debut nearly a decade ago, “and he’s going to do
well in his next career, whatever that is.”

Klein, who said he hopes to
stay with the Galaxy organization in some capacity, said he would like fans and
teammates – present and past – to remember him for how much pride he took in
how he played.

“For fans, I’d like for them
to remember me for playing the game the right way,” Klein said. “That I gave
everything I had every time I was on the field. With my teammates, mostly that
I cared for them in a different way.”

No problem in that regard, said
current teammate Mike Magee.

“The effect he’s had on this
team you can’t really put into words,” he said. “He did kind of the same thing
in Kansas City
… he was a mainstay for them and one of the best players in this league.

“He was obviously your
stereotypical iron man, played in every game, kind of brought leadership and
good things to the locker room for many years, more than any other guy has.

“He’s accomplished things in
this league that might not happen again.”

Klein said he took special
pride in his longevity, but he also admitted he didn’t particularly want to
talk about it. Until now.

“Now I guess I’m at a point
of reflection to look back and think of starting and playing that many games in
a row,” he said. “I’m thankful to God that I was able to be healthy for that
long. To have two major knee surgeries, to be able to come back and put
together that many games in a row I’m thankful for it.

“It’s something that I’m
proud of.”

Klein said he always will
remember the camaraderie with his teammates and being in the locker room on a
daily basis. There is little in the game he did not enjoy – with two notable
exceptions.

“I won’t miss the possibility
of being traded,” he said. “I know there’s uncertainty in life. I also won’t
miss time away from my family, although with my next career you never know.

“I won’t not miss a whole lot.”

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