LOS ANGELES – Jeff Larentowicz lived the ultimate longshot story.
Selected with the 45th pick of the 2005 MLS Supplemental Draft – what amounted to 93rd overall when factoring in the SuperDraft three weeks earlier – there were just three players who went off the board later than Larentowicz, who entered New England Revolution camp as an underdog to stick with the club.
Sixteen years, 437 regular season appearances, and two MLS Cups later, Larentowicz announced his retirement on Monday morning as one of the most decorated players in MLS history.
“I think he was an outstanding player. I enjoyed having him in LA,” said Bruce Arena, who coached Larentowicz for one year with the LA Galaxy (2016) and coached against him for more than a decade. “I think he’s a good, smart player, had so many good, productive years in New England, and it’s been a career that a bunch of players would like to have had in our league.
“I don’t know how many years he played, exactly, or how many games he played, but it was an awful lot of them. He was a consistent player, he’s been a good leader on all of his teams, and he’s accomplished a lot in the league. My hat is off to him. We wish him the very best and he had a great career in MLS.”
Larentowicz spent the first five years of his career in New England, where he appeared in a pair of MLS Cup Finals (2006, 2007) and formed one of the best midfield partnerships in league history alongside Shalrie Joseph, affectionately known as “Red and Dread.” He also helped the Revs lift their first-ever trophy, playing the full 90 minutes in their 3-2 win over FC Dallas in the 2007 U.S. Open Cup Final.
Congratulations Big Red! What an amazing career you had! One of the hardest-working teammates I ever had and a great person overall. Best of luck in your next chapter! “To Red, From Dread” ✌🏾😎 pic.twitter.com/fd76VbVPG7— Shalrie Joseph (@JosephShalrie) April 5, 2021
The rugged midfielder went on to play 11 more seasons with the Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fire, LA Galaxy, and Atlanta United, winning MLS Cup titles in both Colorado and Atlanta. Larentowicz also made four appearances for the U.S. National Team, adding yet another feather to his cap in a storied career.
Beyond his accomplishments on the field, Larentowicz made perhaps his most lasting impact off it, as his efforts as part of the MLS Players Association advanced player rights in a way that guaranteed future generations of players will benefit from his time in the league.
A leader on and off the field.— MLSPA (@MLSPA) April 5, 2021
Throughout his career, Jeff was dedicated to working to protect and progress player rights. The impacts of his efforts will continue to bring positive change to this league and its players for years to come.
Thank you for everything👏 pic.twitter.com/zGMtXeK5KP
Those efforts did not go unnoticed around Major League Soccer, and Larentowicz’s retirement announcement on Monday morning prompted several messages of gratitude from former teammates, who respected Larentowicz for the player, professional, leader, and person he was throughout his career.
16 years.— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) April 5, 2021
Started out making $12k/yr to chase a dream.
My utmost respect for Jeff and the career he had. Couldn’t be more proud to have seen it unfold and even more proud of the way he carried himself. 🍻Jeff as @MLS is better because of you. #MLS pic.twitter.com/2xfiX8tTsI
One of the all time bests on the field. And every current and to-be MLS player is indebted to Jeff for his off-field contributions to the MLSPA. Thanks and congrats to a pro amongst pros. https://t.co/x25gaKYRXy— Michael Parkhurst (@MFparkhurst) April 5, 2021
The fact that my man “Red” gave a s/o every single medical personnel he worked with, speaks to the person he is. The ultimate PRO. Congrats on an amazing career Jeff! pic.twitter.com/W27l5X4WJn— Darrius Barnes (@D_Barnes25) April 5, 2021
Jeff Larentowicz. That’s it. That’s the tweet.— Dax McCarty (@DaxMcCarty11) April 5, 2021