NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION MIDFIELDER STEVE RALSTON
I’m here tonight to announce that I’m officially retiring – for real this time. Obviously it wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m left with a lot of great memories from being part of this organization.
I didn’t prepare a speech for tonight because I thought I was playing in the game tonight and I wanted to prepare for the game like I always do and go about that business. But unfortunately, some things came up and I wasn’t able to enjoy it and play in the game.
To the entire Kraft organization, thanks for letting me be part of this for the last eight-odd years, not just for what they do for our club, but for soccer in our country. They have really been ambassadors to our sport.
I came in the same time Stevie (Nicol) did and, honestly, there’s never been a day that I didn’t look forward to coming to training. I became a better player coming here and working under him.
The guys back in Tampa – what an opportunity. I was 21 years old coming out of college to play alongside one of your childhood idols … I had a poster of (Carlos) Valderrama on my dorm room and I got to play with him, and a lot of other veteran players.
I think most importantly, all the players I’ve been able to play with. I’ve made a lot of great friends and have a lot of great memories. I’ve had the opportunity to play with some really amazing people … I’ve had teammates for a few years, but I have friends for the rest of my life.
Jay (Heaps), Taylor (Twellman) and myself have been through four unforgettable games. There wasn’t he outcome we’d hoped for, but I still think we did some pretty amazing things here: going to four (MLS Cup) finals, winning the Open Cup, winning SuperLiga – hopefully another SuperLiga title for you guys – and a lot of other big games and great results, so I’m proud of those things. So Shalrie Joseph and Matt Reis and all the other guys who it’s been blood, sweat and tears on the field with, it’s been a great experience for me. These guys have always been there for me and unbelievable teammates.
I had hoped to (play tonight), especially after doing all the rehab and wanting to get on the field and play in front of the crowd one more time. I would have loved to have that opportunity. But things came up (today), unfortunately, that we didn’t know about, and just deemed that it couldn’t happen.
To quote my friend Taylor (Twellman), it’s been a “worldwind.” It has been – my head is still spinning and this has happened so fast. I really haven’t processed the whole thing … I haven’t had that moment yet.
NEW ENGLAND HEAD COACH STEVE NICOL
We wanted (Steve Ralston) to start the game. We wanted him to be the captain. So that was disappointing for us - extremely disappointing. It’s no surprise when you hear him talking, he spent more time talking about everyone else than himself. That sums him up. He said he enjoyed coming out to training every day. We enjoyed coming out and watching him every single day. He’s a guy who I would call one of the originals.
We knew we had some good players, but when you start working with them, you realize how good they are. Steve Ralston is as good a player as we’ve had at this club, ever. There is absolutely no doubt about that … he just doesn’t do anything wrong – he’s a good pro, he’s a great player, he scores goals at the right time, he helps the younger guys. We always talk about have a core of guys who look after the younger guys coming through, and he was right up at the top there. He was the first guy to welcome them, help them, give them some good advice, give them a good smack at the back of the head if they needed it. So we’re really disappointed that we’re losing him completely and someone else is going to get the benefit of that. He’s a great person and a great player, and I’ll be shocked if he’s not a great coach.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION MIDFIELDER/DEFENDER CHRIS TIERNEY
We’re disappointed that he’s not going to be here helping us out but he has a great opportunity and he’s a model professional. He taught me a lot - taught a lot of the younger guys a lot - so he’ll be missed sorely.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION GOALKEEPER MATT REIS
It came so sudden. It was a sad day for me and I have been fortunate enough to play with a lot of great players including Mauricio Cienfuegos, Alexi Lalas, Cobi Jones and I think that Steve Ralston is right up there with all of them. It’s been a pleasure. There’re really not enough positive things I can say about him and I know moving forward he’ll be a great coach and mentor the younger players.
NEW ENGLAND MIDFIELDER PAT PHELAN
How much time do you have? He’s been an awesome friend, like a father to a lot of the young guys, a mentor. You just can’t say enough about him. We really got our hopes up with him coming back this year, but even in the short time he was here he made a huge difference. I’m glad we were able to go out and get a win for him to go out on, but I think he’s right it’s the time in his career for him to move on. You know he’ll always be a legend here and in Major League Soccer.
He’s just class all the way around there is just no two ways about it. Win or lose, he’s just a classy guy, a good sport, just a true competitor who, when he’s out there, gives it everything he’s got. You know his time has run out here, but I think that will live on with us for the rest of the year.