Columbus Crew General Manager Mark McCullers and Crew Head Coach Sigi Schmid announced today that Crew defender and MLS original Robin Fraser has retired from professional soccer.
Fraser, his wife, Ashley, and daughter, Danielle, will remain in Columbus while he pursues other opportunities.
"After 16 long years of playing professionally, I have decided that it is time to retire," said Fraser. "While it is hard to leave, I leave with such wonderful memories, that it is somewhat bittersweet. I've been fortunate to play for a lot longer than most, and certainly longer than most would have thought I would have, including me. I've played in only three cities and I've enjoyed them immensely. The organizations, the teams, and the fans of L.A., Denver, and here in Columbus, have been wonderful to have been a part of.
"I would like to thank the owners, especially Mr. Anschutz and Mr. Hunt, for affording us the opportunity to live out our childhood dreams. I also have to thank the medical staffs I've worked with, as I could not have played for as long as I did without them. I also have to recognize the players that I have played with and against, for being a part of this wonderful experience. I owe a great deal of thanks to my family as they have been a pillar of support, starting with my mother, Ruby, and my late father, Felix. They have been there for me for as long as I can remember. My wife, Ashley, has been there through thick and thin, good times and bad, and for many years now has been the ear that gets bent the most. It can be hard to be a soccer wife, enduring moves, injuries, big losses and uncertainty. Ashley has been incredibly supportive through it all.
"Lastly, I am so lucky to have spent so much time in this game. Not many people get the opportunity to do what they really love, and even fewer get to do it for as long as I have. While it is hard to leave the game, I leave with such great and long memories, that the game will always be a part of me.
The Jamaican-born, 10-year MLS veteran will leave MLS as arguably its best defender over its first 10 seasons. He is the only defender named to the MLS Best XI team five times and captured two MLS Defender of the Year awards. He was also a five-time MLS All-Star and is one of just 16 players who has played in all 10 seasons.
The 38-year-old Fraser joined Major League Soccer in the inaugural 1996 MLS season after being drafted as the fourth overall selection in the first round by the Los Angeles Galaxy. He played for Los Angeles (1996-2000), Colorado (2001-2003) and Columbus (2004-2005) while in MLS. Prior to MLS, Fraser began his professional career with the Colorado Foxes in 1990 and played from 1990-1995 with the Foxes of the American Professional Soccer League.
"Robin has been an exemplary professional in this league and an outstanding player," said Schmid. "His accomplishments are many and he has many friends in the soccer community. I am sad that I will not get to coach him in my time in Columbus, but I wish him and his family all the best in the future."
He was a true iron-man throughout his MLS career, starting 256 career games and playing 22,836 minutes, both fourth all-time in league history. He appeared in 260 games, fifth most in MLS history. Fraser's teams were 129-92-39 in games he played. He finished with one regular-season goal and one playoff goal, and four regular-season assists and one playoff assist. His playoff goal was the first-ever playoff goal in L.A. history.
In 2004, his first year with The Crew, Fraser helped lead the Black & Gold to its first regular- season conference crown, a league-record 18-game unbeaten streak and its first-ever Supporters Shield for the best record in MLS. He also captured his second MLS Defender of the Year award, at the age of 37. A true leader on and off the field, he was a captain for both of his seasons with Columbus and was named the club's Huntington Man of the Year this year, an award that is presented to the player who embodies an exceptional sense of leadership, civic pride, family values and community service.
"I'm not sure that I can say anything about Robin Fraser that hasn't already been said," said McCullers. "He has been a tremendous ambassador for the Crew during his time here and it has been my pleasure to work with him over the past 18 months."
After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1986, Fraser made his mark at the international level, appearing 27 times for the U.S. National Team. Fraser attended Florida International where he was a two-time All-American and was a finalist for the Hermann Award in 1988.
● Two-time MLS Defender of the Year (1999, 2004)
● Five-time MLS Best XI selection (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004)
● Only defender in MLS history with five Best XI selections
● Five-time MLS All-Star (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004)
● Started 256 career games and played 22,836 minutes, both fourth most in MLS history
● Appeared in 260 career games, fifth most in MLS history
● 10-year MLS veteran
● One of only 16 players to play all 10 years of MLS
● The fourth overall pick in the 1996 Inaugural MLS draft by L.A.
● Made 27 appearances with the U.S. National Team
● Two-time All-American selection at Florida International and Hermann Award finalist in 1988