Chris Albright broke in with D.C. United in 1999.
He ultimately decided to retire after his second season with the Philadelphia Union in 2013.
It was quite a ride for Albright, a 15-year veteran in Major League Soccer.
Since 1999, Albright has won three MLS Cup titles and has been named to three MLS All-Star teams.
The 34-year-old local product will have stamped his place in league history with a stellar career encompassing five clubs – D.C. United, the LA Galaxy, New England, New York and Philadelphia.
Before the Union’s 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City Saturday at PPL Park, Albright was honored in a pregame ceremony on the pitch.
“Honestly, I thought I was going to be a blubbering idiot and I was able to keep it together,” Albright said. “But it was incredible. I’m really thankful to the organization putting on something like that. I really wasn’t expecting it. Yeah, man, I’m sort of mentally ready for it. I’ll miss it. But I’m excited about the future. But I know I’m going to miss the game and miss competing with the guys. I think I’m going to miss the locker room the most.”
Manager John Hackworth said going from a player to the next step can be difficult.
“Having known players who have gone through it, it’s a big adjustment,” Hackworth said. “On the one hand, you’ve had this long, illustrious career and have done so many great things, but you have to change gears. You go from being a professional athlete to going into the workforce. That’s a hard adjustment for guys. Just the fact that you won’t be coming in and lacing up the boots and knocking a ball around for a living, that’s a big thing. But I think he’s preparing well for that.”
Albright could become a coach or an instructor. But that’s for later. For now, he’s still a valued member of the Union.
“Chris has got a lot of strengths and talents, so I have no doubt he will be successful no matter what the decision is to do,” Hackworth said. “I certainly think a guy like him, with his roots in this community, is very valuable. But that remains to be seen.”
Hackworth has worked with so many players through the years on a variety of levels. Getting the chance to coach Albright ranks right up at the top.
“Looking at Chris’ whole career, it’s pretty impressive,” Hackworth said. “I’ve been glad to have him on our team, and I think it’s fantastic he will end his career in MLS, in Philadelphia, in front of his family and friends. We’re certainly going to do everything we can to honor him the right way, and he deserves it. I have a ton of respect for him and what he’s done, both for the club and for me personally.”
Albright appeared in 235 career matches and recorded 11 goals and 22 assists. He won MLS Cups with D.C. United in 1999 and with the Los Angeles Galaxy in ’02 and ’05.
Albright earned MLS Best XI honors in ’05 and was named to the MLS All-Star Team in three straight seasons – 2004-06 – with the Galaxy.
It was a stellar career in every way possible.
“I am extremely lucky to have played in MLS for the past 15 years, for five exceptional organizations,” said Albright. “The game itself has afforded me opportunities and experiences that I would not have had otherwise and I'm forever grateful. Most importantly, I'd like to thank my wife Leah, and my parents John and Patti for their continuous love and support. The men that I have had the good fortune of calling coaches and teammates have truly shaped my career and I'm especially honored to have been able to end it with my hometown club, Philadelphia Union.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org