Carlos Bocanegra, Randolph Hillsworth Burton

Carlos Bocanegra to retire at the end of MLS season


After 15 years in professional soccer, a career that includes 110 appearances for the United States, former captain Carlos Bocanegra will retire at the end of the 2014 Major League Soccer season. The 35-year-old defender, who has battled concussion symptoms this season, announced his decision Thursday afternoon.

“I’m still hungry for the game and I want to play, but unfortunately you can’t play forever,” Bocanegra said, in a statement distributed on U.S. Soccer’s web site. “I was thinking about this in the offseason, and it took me about six months to come to a final decision. The timing is right for me.”

That announcement comes toward the end of his first full season with Chivas USA, who the former UCLA Bruin joined after returning to Major League Soccer last season. On his way back to a league he called home from 2000 to 2003 with Chicago, Bocanegra spent time with Fulham (England), Rennes, Saint-Etienne (France), Rangers (Scotland), and Racing Santander (Spain), accumulating 266 league appearances across four European competitions.

Despite that club résumé, Bocanegra will be best remembered for his time with the U.S. national team, with whom he debuted in 2001. Across an international career that ended in 2012, Bocanegra appeared in two World Cups (2006, 2010) and won two Gold Cups (2002, 2007). In 2009, he helped the U.S. to a second place finished at the Confederations Cup, calling the team’s semifinal win over Spain one of the highlights of his career. With 14 international goals, Bocanegra is the program’s all-time leading scorer among defenders.

“Throughout your career you play for different clubs and have different experiences, but there has been one constant in my life and my career, and that’s the U.S. National Team,” Bocanegra said. “I’m just so proud that I got to represent the country for so long and play at the highest level I could.”

According to U.S. Soccer, Bocanegra retires as the U.S.’s all-time winningest captain, the team having won 34 times with the defender leading them out of the tunnel. Starting with the team’s June 24, 2007 match against China, Bocanegra spent the better part of six years in the role, bridging the gap from Claudio Reyna to Clint Dempsey.

“One of the most special moments was being able to captain the National Team,” Bocanegra said. “It’s a huge honor and it’s something I didn’t take lightly. It’s something that when I can look back on my career I’m very proud of. It’s just something that I’ll cherish forever.”

Bocanegra is one of 15 players to make 100 appearances for the men’s national team, with his 110 caps tied for seventh all-time.

If healthy, Bocanegra’s final game with be Sunday, Oct. 16 against visiting San Jose.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
Leave a comment

Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
Leave a comment

Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.