And now…the end is near….

I wish I could remember more about the match like who it was against and the result. However, I’m pretty sure it was in July of 2002 and it was against KC or Columbus or someone like that. LA lost a match at the Rose Bowl and just looked awful doing it. I watch the match from my seat in Sec 5 Row 13 (right on the halfway line…great seats) thinking it was going to be another disappointing playoffs.

The next day I read in the paper (I’m pretty sure it was in the LA Times) that once in the locker room after the match, Cobi Jones had written the words “PRIDE” on a chalk board and gave an impassioned speech to his teammates about having pride in their team, their teammates and the city they represent–or something like that. Either way, LA’s season got back on track and finished with Cobi grabbing the MLS Cup and running across the field with it to share with the LA fans who had made the trip to Boston for the final. What a great leader.

We all knew this day was coming. Mr. Galaxy has announced his retirement.

I’ve followed Cobi’s career pretty much since he first played for the US. We are the same age, about the same height, back then I had long hair as well and I played in and outside attacking roll. The differences, he was a good player…and I wished I was a good player.

I followed his unsuccessful season in Coventry as best I could. I knew he was in Rio with Vasco but could never find much information..probably cuz there wasn’t any. When he signed with LA, I pretty much decided I’d be going to games at the Rose Bowl.

During his time with LA, my opinions of his performances fluctuated greatly. A lot of the time, I didn’t think he was giving his full commitment , that he wasn’t trying. I was certain he took his position in the starting XI for granted. Weather it was true or not, as a season ticket holder attending every home match and watching the road games on TV, that’s the opinion I’d formed. However, when I’d really be down on him, he’s suddenly come to life and turn in a great performance.

The last few years, LA fans have known he’d have to hang up his boots eventually. That day will come at the end of this season. As much as I at times have wanted him to do this sooner, I’m now sad realizing that #13 won’t be playing in 2008.

I know retiring of numbers in MLS is something which probably won’t happen…and probably shouldn’t. However, I’m not sure it would be right for anyone else to wear Cobi’s number.

Thanks for 12 great seasons Cobi. I’ll be in Bridgeview (closest MLS team to me now) to see you play one last time.

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