Taylor Twellman ends soccer career

Revs’ all-time leading scorer must end career because of ongoing medical issues

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution forward Taylor Twellman today announced that he is ending his professional soccer career because of medical issues.

Twellman, born in Minneapolis, Minn., and raised in St. Louis, Mo., leaves the game after nine seasons in Major League Soccer, all with the New England Revolution. The 2005 MLS Most Valuable Player scored 101 career goals in 174 career appearances since joining MLS in 2002. He was also a two-time MLS Best XI performer (2002, 2005) and a five-time MLS All-Star.

Twellman has been limited to just two appearances in the last two seasons, and was unable to play at all in 2010 because of his ongoing medical concerns stemming from an on-field collision while scoring a goal in a game against the LA Galaxy on Aug. 30, 2008.

“Taylor Twellman has been the face of the Revolution since joining us in 2002,” Revolution Investor/Operator Robert K. Kraft said. “His heart, grit and determination have been a model for other players, and he’s played a tremendous role in establishing a new standard of success and consistency for not only our team, but also around the league. Taylor was a dynamic player who for nine years was the most prolific scorer in the MLS.

“As exciting and impactful as he was on the field, his contributions to the Revolution were even more impressive off the field, especially in his work with Children’s Hospital Boston and his work raising awareness for head injuries. This is a difficult day for Taylor and our club, and we wish Taylor all the best as he begins a new stage of his career off the field,” Kraft continued.

Twellman is one of three Revs players to start all four of the Revolution’s MLS Cup appearances (2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007). Twellman also won the 2007 U.S. Open Cup and the 2008 SuperLiga titles with the Revolution.

Twellman, 30, closes his playing career as the club’s all-time leader in 11 categories, including goals (101), game-winning goals (28), hat tricks (3), multiple-goal games (16) and goals per game average (0.58). At the league level, Twellman finished his career ranked sixth in goals, tied for fourth in game-winning goals, tied for sixth in multiple-goal games and tied for sixth in career postseason goals with six entering the start of the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs.

“There are very, very few players like Taylor,” Revolution head coach Steve Nicol said. “There was no better center forward or pure goal scorer in our league, and there was no better guy you wanted in the locker room. It’s been a pleasure to come to work every day for the last nine years and know Taylor was ours – on our squad – fighting for the Revolution. It’s very disappointing that he is no longer able to play, but we know he’ll continue to have as significant an impact on our sport off the field as he did on it.”

Twellman began his MLS career in 2002 after the Revolution drafted him second overall in the 2002 MLS SuperDraft. Prior to MLS, he played two seasons with TSV 1860 Munich in Germany where he made more than 40 appearances with the club’s reserve side.

As a first-year player in 2002, Twellman earned MLS Best XI honors after scoring 23 goals and adding six assists in 28 games. He was runner-up for MLS MVP and the first MLS scoring champion in team history while leading the team to its first-ever MLS Cup appearance – and the team’s first of four Cup showings in the next six seasons.

Personified by a combination of artistry and bravery in front of goal, Twellman exemplified the perfect blend of skill and determination throughout his nine-year career. Beginning with his first start in a Revolution uniform on April 20, 2002 – a match in which he scored the game-winning goal in a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew – Twellman forged a reputation not only as one of Major League Soccer’s most capable goal scorers, but also one of its’ most fearless competitors.

Fittingly, the defining goal of Twellman’s career was a remarkable mixture of audacious courage and breathtaking talent. Locked in a scoreless draw with the archrival Chicago Fire late in the first half of the 2007 Eastern Conference Championship game, Twellman eagerly sized up a lofted cross into the box from the right wing. Rising between Fire defenders Logan Pause and Dasan Robinson, Twellman sacrificed his body as he contorted with his back to goal and fired a bicycle kick into the far corner, past Chicago goalkeeper Matt Pickens. It was the only goal of the game, sending the Revs to their third straight MLS Cup final.

Unfortunately, it was that same willingness to sacrifice and unending desire to score which led to the injury that ultimately cut Twellman’s career short. In an effort to reach Khano Smith’s curling left-wing cross on Aug. 30, 2008, Twellman hurled his body forward headfirst and reached the ball before Galaxy goalkeeper Steve Cronin, who had come off his line to punch the cross clear. Twellman scored on the play, but the force of the collision with Cronin led to ongoing medical issues which hampered the 30-year-old throughout the final two years of his career.

Limited to just two substitute appearances in 2009 because of those medical concerns, Twellman had one last memorable performance in front of the Gillette Stadium crowd in a 4-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on June 7, 2009. Sharing the spotlight with friends and teammates Jay Heaps, who made his 300th career appearance, and Matt Reis, who recorded his 50th career shutout, Twellman became the fastest player in MLS history to score 100 career goals with a 57th-minute header. He added his 101st career goal seven minutes later, marking the final goal of his career in what proved to be his last appearance.

Although he didn’t arrive in New England until 2002 – six years after the Revs played their inaugural season in 1996 – many fans will forever view Twellman as the “face of the Revolution.”

Twellman played collegiately for two seasons at the University of Maryland, scoring 28 goals and adding 17 assists in 43 games with the Terrapins before beginning his professional career in Germany. He claimed Soccer America’s national freshman of the year honors and was named an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America as a sophomore.

On an international level, Twellman earned 30 caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team between 2002 and 2008, scoring six goals. He was an alternate to the U.S.’ 2006 FIFA World Cup squad, and was a member of the U.S.’ winning 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup team. He scored both his first and last international goals at Gillette Stadium, recording his first goal against Panama in a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 12, 2005, and netting his final goal against El Salvador on June 12, 2007 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

He is also a former member of the U.S. Under-20 National Team, with which he earned the Bronze Boot for finishing third overall in goal scoring at the 1999 FIFA Under-20 World Championship, recording four goals in four games.

The Revolution will officially honor Twellman before the team’s fans at a game during the 2011 season. The exact date of that public ceremony will be announced once the 2011 schedule is released.

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