PORTLAND, Ore. – When Portland Timbers defender Kevin Goldthwaite called it a career on Monday, he said he had zero regrets.
But for the Timbers, the seven-year veteran's retirement will be a loss in more ways than one.
“He was one of the veteran guys that I was pretty close to on the team here and a guy who I knew just from playing on different teams and against him," Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said after Goldthwaite announced his retirement. "Unbelievable guy, great teammate, great professional for the younger players on the team to look up to.
"And I think, throughout the year, in whatever role he had, he definitely helped bring those guys along at this level. Not only as someone on the field, but off the field [as well], this club will miss him.”
Goldthwaite broke into the league in 2005 as a second-round pick by San Jose after being named first-team all-Big East with the University of Notre Dame, and went on to play for four more MLS clubs: Houston (2006-07), Toronto FC (2007), New York (2007-10), and Portland (2011).
He aided in Houston’s run to their MLS Cup win in 2006, playing in 20 games that season. He had a career season in 2008, when he was named New York’s Defender of the Year and led the club to a Conference Championship and an appearance in MLS Cup.
But in just his third start with the Timbers on July 16 against the Chicago Fire, the 28-year-old suffered a season-ending knee injury. He also missed the end of the 2009 season with New York and most of 2010 due to injuries.
“I know it’s always a hard decision,” Jewsbury said, "but with that injury at his age – and he’s accomplished so much, obviously with his championship in Houston and his time in New York – he just felt it was the right time.
“We would talk quite a little bit,” added Jewsbury. “In the middle part of the season, in that Chicago game, he was getting the start and things were looking up. And with that injury going down, obviously being a very serious one at this point in his career, you just have to make the best decision for him and his family."
A native of Sacramento, Calif., Goldthwaite played for Portland over two stints during his career, including a loan spell as a rookie in 2005 with the second-division Timbers when he helped the club to a playoff appearance. He returned in 2010, signing with Portland’s second-division side and then continuing on with the Timbers into their first MLS season in 2011.
“I have known Kevin for a number of years and we’ve shared some great times together, including winning a championship with Houston,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “It’s always sad when a player’s career comes to an end, but I wish Kevin the very best.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.