U.S. Soccer

Carlos Bocanegra: In His Own Words

Longtime MNT Defender and Captain Reflects on Upcoming Retirement and Successful Career


I was fighting through this decision this past offseason and thinking, “How much longer am I going to play,” and “What do I want to do with my career?” I’m still hungry for the game and I want to play, but unfortunately you can’t play forever. The timing is right for me. It took me about six months to come to a final decision. I’ve known for a little while now in my mind and in my heart. I’m happy with it, and I’m looking forward to the new challenges.

Coming into the National Team at a young age, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you come into a setup where it could be such a scary situation. You had all these incredible veterans, and these guys created an environment and a culture for young guys to come into where they showed you respect and treated you as one of their own. I think that was a big part of my learning experience on how to be a professional, how to be a leader and how to go about your business. That carried me throughout my career. It was invaluable to be brought up in that environment.

I think I’m most proud of my time spent with the National Team. 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. I’m just so proud that I got to represent the country for so long and play at the highest level I could.

I’ve been pretty fortunate in my career. One of most special opportunities was being able to captain the National Team. It’s a true honor and something I didn’t take lightly. When I can look back on my career, it’s something I’m very proud of and will cherish forever.

Some of my favorite memories came from just being around the guys. Being in that locker room, fighting together on the field, celebrating the victories, and even sharing the agony of defeat. The National Team was a big, big part of my life. I made so many lifelong friends from my career. I owe so much to U.S. Soccer for all the things I’ve been able to experience. Just being out there with the guys is what I’m going to miss the most.

Carlos Bocanegra

When I think about memorable games, you have to throw in the Spain game in the Confederations Cup that got us to the final. They had some unbelievable winning streak going on, and we knocked them off their post. In 2006, we played Italy in Kaiserslautern. The fans were amazing in that game, it was in a World Cup, and Italy was the eventual champion. The game had everything: red cards, blood, sweat and tears, and we got a draw, so that was cool. And obviously there was the Algeria game in 2010 that advanced us to the knockout stage. We put in so much work and effort, and it came down to almost a walk-off goal, so to speak. You watched the reactions on YouTube around the country – now imagine that feeling going through every player’s body times 10 because of the relief and the joy we all felt.

With my National Team career, I’ve been very fortunate to play under Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann. I learned something from each of them, and I think I grew tremendously as a player and a person.

There are a lot of memories from the different club teams. You are making new friends, seeing new places, and experiencing new cultures. Soccer has shown me the world, and I grew up and became the man I am because of it. One that sticks out was my time at Rangers. It was a fantastic experience at the top club in the country. To have the chance to play in front of 52,000 fans every game at Ibrox was incredible. That showed me how much I love soccer and how much supporters can be a part of a club and even be part of a culture. Those things you never forget.

When I finish my playing career, I’m looking to stay involved with soccer at the top level. I’m eager to be a part of something special. I have the hunger and the drive and the desire to keep being involved, and that’s not going anywhere. I’m excited, and I look forward to what’s coming next.


First Cap, First Goal: Christen Press

On Feb. 9, 2013, the U.S. Women’s National Team kicked off the new year with a 4-1 victory against Scotland in Jacksonville, Florida. Christen Press, then 24-years-old, was responsible for two goals that day, scoring in the 13th minute and adding another in the 32nd to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead at halftime.

The early goal was Press’ first for the USA, coming in a match that was also her first cap.


Becky Sauerbrunn hugs Christen Press in the aftermath of Press scoring on her WNT debut. 

Earning that first cap is special for any player, but a debut and a goal in the same game? That’s a rare feat. In the 30+ year history of the U.S. WNT  21 players have scored in their first caps.

NOTHING TO LOSE

Press’ path to that first game three years ago was an interesting one.  In early 2012, she made the decision to move to Sweden after U.S.-based Women’s Professional Soccer folded. Press thought leaving the country might negatively impact her hopeful National Team career, but little did she know, it was only just beginning.

“I think just because I always thought that the National Teams would be watching the American league, I thought that going abroad was kind of like saying goodbye to my dream of playing for the National Team,” recalled Press. “I left around this time, in February, and I thought I would not get a call, I sort of thought that I would fall out of U.S. Soccer’s radar.”

As it turns out, head coach Pia Sundhage kept tabs on players in Europe, especially in her native land of Sweden. Press got off to a hot start with her new club, and it wasn’t long before she was on her way back home.

Press returned to the U.S. and joined the WNT in Florida in April during the final stretch of what had been an intense fitness camp. She kept to herself and tried to quickly learn as much as possible despite only being there for five days.

“I had nothing to lose,” she said. “It was my first camp, it was warm and I was so happy. I don’t think I spoke to anybody. I was not nervous, I was just happy to be in Florida and my dream was coming true. I’m always quiet when I don’t know my surroundings, so I just kept to myself trying to learn the rules, how to behave; it was all so quick.”

That short stint turned out to be the only one for Press before she was named an Olympic alternate in 2012. The following February, Tom Sermanni took over as WNT head coach, and it was then Press learned she would start against Scotland. Her chance had arrived.

“I went on the field, the crowd was so much bigger than I’d ever played in front of, and for me it was so much bigger than life,” said Press. “But I kept telling myself, ‘I’m not nervous, I’m confident, I’m a good player and I believe in myself.’”

Years and multiple goals later, plus one Women’s World Cup title to her name, the dream is alive and well for Press.

Christen Press
Press celebrates scoring her first World Cup goal against Australia in the USA's opening match of the 2015 Women's World Cup

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WNT Jun 11, 2017
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