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Final

Season 10: Chung takes his knocks

only 261 fouls committed, five yellow cards and that aforementioned red card. -- while collecting 55 goals and 70 assists in 263 games.

"I've always just been that way," he said. "I'm not one to kick down players or anything like that. Again, people might say that I'm soft or whatever. I try to stay in the parameters of the game.

"I don't think anyone likes to be kicked down or anything like that. I won't say by any means I'm the best defender or a good defender. I think my strengths are going forward and creating goals and chances for my team. Defensively, I would say I was one of the last guys."

Chung was traded by the Rapids to the injury-riddled Quakes for a portion of an allocation on May 20.

"I asked for it," he said. "I wasn't happy.

"Playing time really never had anything to do with it. I wasn't happy with what was going on and stuff like that."

Chung wouldn't elaborate, except to say that things were "great" in San Jose. "I feel like a professional," he added.

The Quakes are Chung's fourth club. He also has played with the MetroStars, who essentially gave him away to the Rapids. The MetroStars traded him and the team's second- and third-round picks in the 2002 SuperDraft draft for the fourth selection in the allocation draft, which turned out to be forward Diego Serna.

When Chung was dealt to the Rapids, then MetroStars coach Octavio Zambrano mentioned that Chung was going to turn 32 in June and that players start to slip and lose form in their 30s.

As it turned out, Chung enjoyed his two best goal-scoring seasons, connecting for 11 goals each in 2002 and 2003, while earning MLS Best XI honors and being an MVP finalist in 2002.

Then came last year, when the Rapids struggled to a league-low 29 goals.

"The whole team pretty much had a bad year last year," Chung said. "I was punished."

Chung said he had to take a lower salary.

"I believe you have to have respect for veteran players," he said. "I think that the veteran players are the guys who are going to help you on the field as well off the field with the younger players."

There is little doubt in Chung's mind that the quality of the younger players has improved over the past decade.

"There are a lot of younger players coming up and proving themselves worthy of the league," he said. "I think the first couple of years there was a huge gap between the professional and college player. But that gap is shortening up for the better. A lot of the college players who are coming out now, like Clint Dempsey, are doing well. That's better for our league and better for our national team."

Chung, who turns 35 on June 18, doesn't know how long he will keep playing.

"I usually go year by year," he said. "As long as I have my first three steps and my brain is still intact then I can still play. ... I talk to my wife and family and see how things go."

And how many more fouls he has to endure.

Michael Lewis writes about soccer for the New York Daily News and is editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has covered MLS since its inception, including the league's unveiling at the 1994 World Cup draw in Las Vegas. He can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com.


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