The LA Galaxy announced today that veteran midfielder Clint Mathis has elected to retire from the sport of soccer. An 11-year MLS veteran who began his career with the Galaxy in 1998, Mathis will play the final game of his professional career on Saturday, August 7 when LA hosts Real Madrid at the Rose Bowl. A veteran of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan/South Korea and an MLS Cup winner, Mathis had three stints with the Galaxy, playing for the club from 1998-2000, briefly following the end of the 2007 MLS season and again this season after being re-acquired from Real Salt Lake in January.
“First I would like to thank Jesus Christ for giving me the ability to play the game I love and to have such a long and fruitful career,” Mathis said. I would also like to thank all of my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff and fans for all the support that they have given me at every step of my soccer career. It has been an amazing and exciting ride, full of moments and people that will stay with me forever. I cannot thank everyone who has been a part of this journey with me enough for all that you have done to help me enjoy such a fulfilling life in the sport of soccer.”
A first round pick for the Galaxy in the 1998 MLS College Draft out of the University of South Carolina, Mathis burst onto the MLS scene as a rookie by scoring five goals and adding 10 assists as part of a Galaxy offense that scored an MLS record 85 goals. Following that season, Mathis made the first of his 46 appearances with the U.S. National Team, starting in midfield in a 0-0 draw with Australia that was also the U.S. debut as head coach for Bruce Arena. All 46 of his caps with the U.S. came under Arena, who included Mathis in the squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. There, Mathis registered the most memorable of his 12 international goals, scoring with a left-footed volley that gave the U.S. a 1-1 draw with the hosts South Korea and helped them reach the World Cup Quarterfinals for the first time since 1930.
“I have had the pleasure of coaching Clint with both the National Team and in MLS with the Galaxy and Red Bulls and we will miss having his presence with the club for the rest of the season,” Bruce Arena said. “In his prime he was as good a goal scorer as our country has ever produced, as evidenced by his incredible goal against South Korea at the 2002 World Cup. We will miss Clint and are indebted to his contributions to MLS and U.S. Soccer.”
After finishing as the Galaxy’s third-leading scorer in 1999 with seven goals and three assists, Mathis was on pace for another fantastic season in 2000 when he was sent to the MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls) in order to allow the Galaxy to sign Mexican international Luis Hernandez. In 21 games for the MetroStars that year, Mathis had 13 goals and 13 assists, including a league record five goals in a home win over Dallas. A finalist for the MLS MVP award that season and an All-Star for the first of four times in his career, Mathis finished the season with a career-high 16 goals and 14 assists while nearly helping the MetroStars reach MLS Cup for the first time.
He spent the next three years with the MetroStars and was the club’s leading scorer during that time, despite missing nearly a full year with a severe knee injury. He returned to New York in 2007 to play for the Red Bulls, scoring six times to become the club’s all-time leading scorer in all competitions, a record that was just recently surpassed by Juan Pablo Angel. His record breaking 45th and final goal for the club came in a 5-4 New York win over the Galaxy in front of more than 66,000 fans at Giants Stadium.
In addition to his time with the Galaxy and in New York, Mathis also spent time on either side of the Rocky Mountains, playing for both the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake. The now 33-year-old Georgia native had two stints with RSL, joining the club for their inaugural 2005 season and then returning to the club in 2008 and helping them reach the postseason for the first time ever. One year later, Mathis had two goals and seven assists, his most since 2000, as he helped RSL win their first-ever MLS Cup championship by defeating the Galaxy on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes. Mathis played 98 minutes in that game after replacing the injured Javier Morales and converted his penalty kick in the game’s deciding shootout.
After his first season with RSL, Mathis was traded to Colorado where he spent one season, helping the club reach the Western Conference Championship, before being traded back to New York.
In addition to his time in MLS and with the National Team, Mathis also spent the better half of 18 months playing in Europe in both Germany and Greece. He signed with Hanover 96 of the German Bundesliga in January 2004 and spent 18 months with the club, scoring five times including once in his debut, before signing with Real Salt Lake in January 2005. He returned to Europe in January 2008, spending six months with Ergotelis of the Greek Super League. He scored once in eight appearances for the club and helped them avoid relegation before again signing with Real Salt Lake.
Mathis will make his final appearance in a Galaxy uniform on Saturday night as the club returns to the Rose Bowl to take on Real Madrid. This game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. (PT) and tickets are available now. For more information about this game or to purchase tickets, please contact the Galaxy by calling 1-877-3GALAXY (342-5299) or by visiting www.lagalaxy.com/realmadridtickets.
Clint Mathis’ current and former coaches react to his retirement…
Mark Berson – Mathis’ coach at the University of South Carolina (1994-1997)
“Clint Mathis has been one of the great personalities in American soccer throughout his career. Clint has been an exciting, dynamic and flamboyant attacking force out on the field. He has excelled on the youth, collegiate, professional and full international level with the U.S. World Cup Team. Clint has always been a person who cared deeply about people. Each community in which he has lived has benefited from his involvement with charities and youth work. Clint was inducted into the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007 and all of the Gamecock Soccer Nation thank him for his contributions to the game and we wish him and his family the very best.”
Bruce Arena – Mathis’ coach with the U.S. National Team (1998-2005), New York Red Bulls (2007) and LA Galaxy (2010)
“I have had the pleasure of coaching Clint with both the National Team and in MLS with the Galaxy and Red Bulls and we will miss having his presence with the club for the rest of the season. In his prime he was as good a goal scorer as our country has ever produced, as evidenced by his incredible goal against South Korea at the 2002 World Cup. We will miss Clint and are indebted to his contributions to MLS and U.S. Soccer.”
Octavio Zambrano – Mathis’ coach with the LA Galaxy (1998-1999) and MetroStars (2000-2002)
"Clint is one of the top three most creative players that this country has ever produced. He was good in every aspect of the game - he could shoot with both feet without any problems, his heading ability was very good, he could score as well as pass, and if required to do so, he could defend as well. What made him different was that he was such a clutch player. He could always get a goal when the team really needed it."
Sigi Schmid – Mathis’ coach with the LA Galaxy (1999-2000)
“It was a pleasure coaching Clint, especially during his breakout year, and seeing him go on and have such a successful career. I wish him all the best.”
Bob Bradley – Mathis’ coach with the MetroStars (2003)
“Clint was a real talent capable of doing exciting things on the field, and along with his personality he brought some qualities that few American players have possessed. During his career he played a significant role for the national team and contributed a great deal to the development of MLS. We certainly wish him the best.”
John Ellinger – Mathis’ coach with Real Salt Lake (2005)
“Clint was that American player who brought that brashness, that energy. He was bold. He always played with a chip on his shoulder. Not only did he not want to lose, but he never felt that he was going to lose. As his career moved forward and he played in the World Cup in 2002, I think he was that player everybody was looking at who could always have an impact in the game. Whether he was starting at the national team level or as a sub, he would come in and have a positive impact in the game. There isn’t a referee that didn’t know Clint. He had that way about him that he was going to get a point across and he was going to do it in a way that only Clint had the style to do. But, there was just something about Clint… he was the guy you wanted on your team to drive the bus. That was Clint.”
Jason Kreis – Mathis’ teammate with Real Salt Lake (2005) and the U.S. National Team (1998-2000), and his coach with Real Salt Lake (2008-2009)
“Even though Clint was a younger player than me, I have always admired his unparalleled abilities on the field. He was a fantastic player, with a fantastic competitive spirit, and someone that has always been capable of making the really special plays. At his best, he was truly fun to watch. He was an integral piece of the rebuilding of our club here at Real Salt Lake since rejoining us in 2008, and was a huge factor in the changing of our competitive spirit. I am so pleased that he can retire knowing that he was part of something incredibly special and truly historic – a Championship winning team. I wish him the best in all of his future endeavors although I already know there are huge successes right around the corner for him because I strongly believe that good things always happen to and for good people, and he is not a good person, he is a great one!”