Major League Soccer veteran John Thorrington retires, joins Players Union

John Thorrington

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USA Today Sports

Longtime MLS midfielder John Thorrington announced his retirement on Monday after nine years in the league and an international career that included a historical contract with Manchester United as a teenager.

Thorrington, 35, last played for D.C. United in 2013, appearing in 14 league matches and four matches during the team’s run to the US Open Cup title.

He will now be working with the Major League Soccer Players Union as a special assistant to executive director Bob Foose.

“I'd like to thank my teammates, coaches, and the fans who have made this experience what it was,” Thorrington said in a statement. “I feel very blessed to have had the privilege of playing for 17 years, and I could not have done it, nor would I have enjoyed it as much, were it not for their support.

"Special thanks go to my wife Krista and my family, who have encouraged and inspired me through it all. I am grateful to the MLS Players Union and excited for this opportunity to help continue the development of the league in a new capacity.”

Thorrington’s best seasons in MLS came with the Chicago Fire in 2008-09, including a career year in 2008 that saw him score five goals in 23 appearances. He leveraged that success into the first start of his career for the US national team in November 2008, a 2-0 win for the Americans over Guatemala in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.

Thorrington made four appearances for the USMNT between 2001 and 2008 and featured in two World Cup qualifiers during the run-up to the 2010 World Cup.

In six seasons with the Fire, Thorrington collected eight goals and two assists in 59 games (49 starts) and helped the club win the US Open Cup in 2006. He also appeared in 30 regular-season matches for the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011-12 before joining D.C. United last season.

“John gave everything he had on every play on every team he ever played for,” D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said in a statement. “It was a pleasure being around him for a short time in DC, and I wish him nothing but the best in his new role at the Players Union.”

In 1997, Thorrington became the youngest American player to sign with an English Premier League club when he joined Manchester United at 17. He spent three years with the English giants before departing to Germany and Bayer Leverkusen in 1999. In 2001, Thorrington returned to England to join Huddersfield Town.

During a four-year spell with the Yorkshire club, Thorrington netted eight goals and appeared in 75 matches.