Robert Mora

Eddie Lewis prepares for the final games of his professional career

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis said he’s never been that interested in looking back on his noteworthy career, but the opportunity soon will present itself.

The 36-year-old midfielder and Cerritos native will be playing in his final regular season game of his career on Sunday against FC Dallas at The Home Depot Center. The popular veteran recently announced his retirement but currently has other matters to attend to, like helping the club return to MLS Cup, which is scheduled for Nov. 21 at BMO Field in Toronto.

Lewis, one of the best and most decorated players in the history of the U.S. men’s national team with 10 goals and 16 assists in 82 appearances for the Red, White and Blue, is about to close his third and final season in Los Angeles – he was head coach Bruce Arena’s first signing when Arena took the job on Aug. 18, 2008 – and said he was eager for new challenges.

“I’m just kind of looking forward to kind of taking a step back and perhaps come at the game from a slightly different angle now,” he said on Tuesday.

Lewis began his career with the San Jose Clash (now Earthquakes) in 1996 when the club selected him in the Third Round of the 1996 MLS College Draft out of UCLA. He went on to make stops at England’s Preston North End, Fulham, Derby County and particularly Leeds, where in 2006 he was named the team’s Player of the Year, before joining the Galaxy two years ago.

“Just a fabulous player,” Arena said, “and I think everyone in the game will tell you there’s not a finer person. I think he’s arguably the finest left midfielder in the history of U.S. Soccer.”

Lewis was deeply appreciative of the kind words.

“For me, every opportunity always seemed like a chance to try and prove something,” he said. “I’ve never really stopped to kind of look back. It just seemed like everything’s been a progression and either personally trying to get to the next level or as a group or as a country trying to take the game to the next level.

“It’s certainly a wonderful compliment and I owe many of those memories to Bruce in a lot of ways. At the same time the good news is there’s going to be tons and tons of wonderful young players coming through all the time. I’m very excited to see records shattered and players go on to great new heights.

“Certainly it’s a track we’re on.”

Lewis will leave a lasting impression on his current teammates. The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan said he has looked up to Lewis for years.

“Eddie was always one of the guys when I first joined the national team that I had the most respect for,” Donovan said, “because he always competed the right way.

“At his age, knowing he has a few games left, it would be easy for him to kind of go through the motions and just be out here and enjoy it. He’s innately very competitive, and we like that about him. He’s pretty quiet, but he’s fun to be around. We’re going to miss him a lot next year.”

Lewis met with Arena at the beginning of the season, when he informed him he would be leaving the game. He said he feels fine physically, aside from “little problems here and there like anyone else,” but he did admit being around the team on a daily basis will be something he will miss a great deal.

“Like any memory, you end up kind of focusing on all the great things,” he said. “The games certainly. I think and I’ve heard it a number of times, but I think the thing I’ll certainly miss the most is just the banter and the camaraderie in the locker room.

“I think that’s a difficult environment to recreate in almost any other professional setting … that will be hard. I enjoy the laughs, the teasing and joking and all that, and certainly the competition that goes with that on the field.

“But the camaraderie is something I’ll hold quite close to me for a long time.”

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LA Galaxy Midfielder Eddie Lewis to Retire Following 2010 MLS Season
PHOTO GALLERY: Eddie Lewis' Career