Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Farewell to Armas
by Ridge Mahoney, November 13th, 2007 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

Today's the day Chris Armas officially hangs it up. At age 35, sent to the sidelines by a troublesome hip and the wear and tear of a dozen pro seasons, the MLS prototypical holding midfielder played 264 regular season games and 37 more in the playoffs with a zeal and hunger seemingly unaffected by fatigue, weather or circumstance. He'll walk away reluctantly, happy and sad, as well he should. Nobody ever wore the colors of his club and country more humbly yet as proudly as did Armas. He played in four MLS Cups and helped the Fire, which he joined after two seasons in Los Angeles, win a league title and four U.S. Open Cups.

I first saw him play in person at the Rose Bowl, for the Galaxy against D.C. United on the first Sunday in May, 1996. Some superb attacking players (Marco Etcheverry and Mauricio Cienfuegos, to name two) and famous names (Jorge Campos, John Harkes, referee Arturo Angeles) were on display in brilliant sunshine but I couldn't stop watching the shortish yet powerful, aggressive yet smart, Galaxy No. 14 thwart D.C. time and time again with strong tackles, clever interceptions, and flat-out persistence. He was relentless, confident, tough. I said to myself, "Armas, good player."

I knew the name from the college All-America lists, but since Adelphi didn't come out west very often, that's about all I knew aside from some high praise from his coach, Bob Montgomery, and one or two coaches whose teams had played against him. As he bounded up and back, side to side, I mentioned to a few colleagues in the press box how impressed I was.

I didn't get much assent in return. There were far more spectacular and compelling elements to be savored. Eduardo Hurtado bulled his way through the D.C. defense, Cienfuegos pulled the strings, Cobi Jones buzzed the flanks, and Etcheverry and Harkes struggled to link their creaky back line with a mix-and-match forward duo of Raul Diaz Arce and Steve Rammel. More than 20,000 fans roared as Galaxy pounded out a 3-1 win.

Nobody knew at the time that 5 ½ months later, these same two teams would meet in a Foxboro Stadium being lashed by a fierce nor'easter to decide the inaugural MLS champion. Everybody remembers Eddie Pope's dramatic overtime winner and the 3-2 final scoreline that left the Galaxy bitterly stunned; Armas can never forget how it all fell apart after he'd scored in the 56th minute for a 2-0 Galaxy lead.

His accomplishments and disappointments are well chronicled, but no biography or profile can capture the admiration and respect he's earned, or the sympathy and disbelief that such a stalwart would be knocked out of three major competitions - the 2000 Olympics and the 2002 and 2006 World Cups - by injury.

 

If you ask him, he'd tell you truthfully and passionately how proud he was to represent his country 66 times.

"I am lucky, I really am," he once said. "Not everything is meant to be, and I believe things happen for a reason, even if we don't know what that reason is. There are a lot of guys who never get the chance."

In September, knowing it was about to end yet still clinging to a vestige of hope, he said, "My reasons to retire were never frustration with the players, with the team, with the organization. If I could play another three years I would. Physically, my body is hurting. If [Zinedine] Zidane came to the team tomorrow, of course I'd want to play. My body is the issue. My desire to play would be the same.

"I want to be able to play and contribute every day in practice and every day in the games, not just half you-know-what. I love the concept of the team and honestly, I love the preseason. This is what I've known for the past 12, 14 years, whatever it is, two years with the Rough Riders and then MLS. It's hard enough to walk away. I don't like the thought of it, at all. I almost wish I didn't love it so much, but I do.

"The motivation level is still there. The motivation to win and to compete has gotten stronger as my career has gone on. It hasn't faded. You think, 'Isn't that supposed to go away?' Then you wouldn't feel so bad about walking away.

"If I could do it now, success makes it even harder. But at the end of the day it's what it's going to be."

 



1 comment
  1. Richard Brown
    commented on: November 26, 2015 at 1:20 p.m.
    I knew him when he was 17 years old. He played for Bob Montgomery with Long Island United in the CJSL. Bob had the best players in Long Island on his team. There was also another coach he played for the old Cosmos doing another under 19 team. The Long Island soccer league would not let them play in their league. So they joined CJSL here in NYC. We let anyone play in our league. I was coaching Sporting club Gjoa under 19 back then.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Copa Centenario: U.S. leagues heavily represented    
The USA's roster for the Copa Centenario includes just nine current MLS players, but 18 other ...
USA-Ecuador: Kellyn Acosta called in, Chandler OK    
U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann added Kellyn Acosta to the U.S. roster for Wednesday's friendly ...
What They're Saying: Carli Lloyd    
"I have scored some big-time goals. I've done well in Algarve Cups. I've done well in ...
NWSL Rewind: Olympic hopefuls stand out in goal    
Chicago Red Stars keeper Alyssa Naeher, who is battling for one of two spots in goal ...
USL Rewind: Wheeler and Warshaw lead Isles to victory    
The Harrisburg City Islanders and Bethlehem Steel squared off for the first time Sunday, and Aaron ...
NASL Rewind: Cosmos back in first place    
The defending NASL champion New York Cosmos returned to first-place in the spring standings thanks to ...
What They're Saying: Earnie Stewart    
"He [Freddy Adu] was 14 years old, very talented but only practiced once a day. That ...
Copa Centenario: Final rosters released    
The final 23-player rosters for the 16 competing teams in the Copa Centenario were unveiled on ...
Video Pick: Wright-Phillip' strikes with overhead kick    
Two of the Red Bulls' goals from their 7-0 win over NYCFC feature among the eight ...
What They're Saying: Andrea Pirlo    
"It's a very hard league to play in. It's very physical, there's a lot of running. ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives