SAN JOSE, CA - The San Jose Earthquakes today announced that eight-year veteran Troy Dayak will retire from professional soccer at the end of the 2005 MLS season. Following his Earthquakes career, Dayak, 34, will continue his involvement in soccer as head coach of the expansion California Cougars of the Major Indoor Soccer League. Dayak was named head coach of the Stockton, Calif. based team earlier today.
"I would like to thank the Earthquakes for allowing me the opportunity to play in front of my local fans for so many years," Dayak, a Tracy, Calif. resident, said. "Bringing me back to San Jose in the inaugural MLS season was great and the continued support of my family and friends in my backyard has been incredible. I would like to thank Alexi [Lalas], Dominic [Kinnear] and John [Doyle] for helping me make the right decision for my future and the future of my family. I want to thank the fans for so many years of undying support. They helped me be the player that I am and I appreciate that. I am ready for a change of seasons in my life and right now I think that this is the best option for my family and me. The most fond memories in my soccer career have been as a part of the Earthquakes family. I am focused right now on giving everything I have for the rest of this season to help bring another MLS Cup back to San Jose."
A Northern California soccer great, "The Beast" starred at Livermore High School and the University of San Francisco before joining the professional San Francisco Bay Blackhawks (American Professional Soccer League) at age 17 as the youngest player ever in APSL history. Born in Walnut Creek, Dayak was a member of the original MLS team in San Jose, the Clash, in 1996 and is currently in his eighth season with San Jose. He has played 126 games for San Jose, starting 119, placing him third all-time in club history in those categories.
"He has been a great professional from the Bay Area for many years," said Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear. "We have been lucky to have him here all these years in San Jose and he has been a great ambassador for the sport. He has represented his country at every level and has had a very distinguished career in MLS. The coaching staff and I have talked to him and we know that his focus right now will be first and foremost on the 2005 season with the Earthquakes. He will continue to be an important piece of our team this season."
Dayak's career was nearly de-railed after suffering a herniated disc in his neck in 1996. After extensive rehabilitation, he returned for the 1997 season, but re-injured his neck, putting his career in jeopardy. After surgery and a number of months away from athletic competition in 1997, Dayak returned to the Clash in 1998, but was released after that season. Dayak then spent two seasons with the Bay Area Seals of the A-League and overcame a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in 1999 to lead all A-League defenders in scoring in the 2000 season.
In 2001, Dayak was re-signed by the Quakes and responded with his best MLS season, playing in 25 games and scoring two goals, while helping the team allow a team record low 29 goals. He earned MLS Comeback Player of the Year honors that year and was also named an MLS All-Star in 2001 and wore the captain's armband in the MLS All-Star Game played at Spartan Stadium. In the playoffs, he played in every game, helping San Jose win their first-ever MLS Cup Championship. His golden goal in Game Three of the MLS Cup Playoff semifinals against the Miami Fusion gave the Quakes a 1-0 win and sent them to the MLS Cup Final.
Despite battling the injury bug, Dayak helped lead San Jose to a second MLS Cup Championship in 2003 and played in 40 games from 2002 - 2004. This season, Dayak has one goal while playing every minute of the Quakes first four games. "Knowing this is Troy's last year, I would expect the Bay Area soccer community to appreciate every opportunity to see this Earthquakes legend in action," Earthquakes President & General Manager Alexi Lalas said. "He remains one of the most physically dominating defenders in this league, and I know he is focused on adding another MLS Cup Championship to what has already been a spectacular career."
A member of the 1992 United States Olympic Team, Dayak was a star for the United States National Team at the Under-20 and Under-23 levels. He also made 11 appearances for the senior U.S. team.
"He has had a long and very successful career," former teammate and current Earthquakes assistant coach John Doyle said. "He has had a career that any pro would be proud of as he has won championships at almost every level - in MLS, playing indoor and in the APSL. He is someone you would always want on your side, because you can always count on him to give 100 percent. He is just a terrific player. All of his roots are here in the Bay Area, and he grew up here and always wanted to stay and play here. He has been great for every local club that he has been on - the Blackhawks, Seals, Clash and Earthquakes."