MLS veteran Robbie Russell retires from professional soccer to enter medical school

Robbie Russell

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D.C. United's Robbie Russell, responsible for one of the greatest MLS Cup moments in league history, is calling it quits.

The 33-year-old veteran of 13 years in professional soccer announced his retirement on Tuesday to pursue a career in medicine. He will be leave D.C. United to enroll in Georgetown University's pre-med program.

“It’s been one of those careers that if when I started I knew that was going to happen, I totally wouldn’t have expected it,” Russell said in a statement. “I’m very happy with my career – so, I’m just looking forward to going back to school, a little bit scared, but it’s really exciting and it’s a lot of fun. I love the guys in D.C. and they will always be a part of my soccer history.”

Russell is perhaps best known in MLS circles as the steady right back during an impressive run for Real Salt Lake from 2008-11. He appeared in 76 games for the club over four seasons and another 12 in the postseason, and his was the final penalty kick that defeated the LA Galaxy in the memorable 2009 shootout in Seattle that won RSL their only MLS Cup title to date.

Russell was granted a traded to D.C. in November 2011 after a request to be closer to his family. He landed in MLS in 2008 after spending several seasons in Europe in Iceland (Breidablik), Norway (Sogndal, Rosenborg) and Denmark (Viborg FF).

Russell will fall just short of the century mark of regular-season appearances in MLS, tallying 98 total.