CHICAGO (August 3, 2006) — U.S. National Team defender Eddie Pope has announced his retirement from international soccer, concluding an 11-year international career that included nine World Cup matches played since 1998 and 82 appearances overall.
After having the opportunity to play in my third World Cup and taking some time to reflect with my family, I felt like it was the right moment to say goodbye to the national team,” said Pope. “I’ll miss all my teammates, and I will always appreciate the successes we had together.
"I really never imagined that my international career would last this long, and I am very grateful for the opportunities over the last 11 years. I want to thank everyone in the U.S. Soccer family, and particularly the fans, for all the support over the years. It has made my national team career very, very special.”
A perennial anchor of the U.S. defense for nearly a decade, he is the first three-time World Cup veteran to play his entire professional career in Major League Soccer. Pope ends his international career tied with Kasey Keller and Claudio Reyna for the most ever World Cup qualifying appearances in U.S. history, playing in 31 matches during three qualifying campaigns. He turned in one of the standout performances for the U.S. defense at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, starting all five matches.
"Eddie has been the measuring stick for defenders in this country for nearly a decade," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "As a member of three World Cup teams and the 1996 Olympic team, he has provided many memorable moments to spotlight the class he brings to an often underappreciated position. Eddie is an inspiration to young soccer players across the United States, and will continue to inspire throughout the rest of his professional career."
Pope recorded eight goals for the United States, none bigger than his strike in the USA’s 2-2 World Cup qualifying draw with Mexico on April 20, 1997. Also scoring the game-winner against Mexico on April 28, 2004 in Dallas, he added two goals to his account in 2006, netting in back-to-back games against Norway and Japan.
The 32-year old collected a Gold Cup championship medal in 2005.
"Eddie Pope is arguably the finest defender this country has ever produced," said former U.S. National Team manager Bruce Arena. "I've worked with Eddie since our days with D.C. United and the Olympic team in 1996, and it has been a pleasure to watch him develop into such a class act both on and off the field. Eddie has always let his play do the talking, serving as a role model for a generation of defenders. I'd like to thank Eddie for his contributions to the program, and wish him and his family the best for the future."
Pope has spent his entire 11-year professional career in Major League Soccer, beginning with D.C. United in 1996. A three-time MLS champion, his greatest professional moment came when he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give D.C. United the inaugural MLS Cup title in 1996. Selected for the All-Star game in each of his 11 seasons, the Real Salt Lake defender was named to the league’s All-Time Best XI last year.
EDDIE POPE (complete bio)
Hometown: High Point, N.C.
Club: Real Salt Lake (United States)
DOB: December 24, 1973
MNT Career Stats
GP: 82 – Goals: 8
World Cup Stats
GP: 9 – Goals: 0
World Cup Qualifying Stats
GP: 31 – Goals: 3