Former Atlanta, Cincinnati, USMNT defender Greg Garza retires

Greg Garza - Atlanta United - solo

Former Atlanta United and FC Cincinnati defender Greg Garza has retired from professional soccer, he revealed in a Friday interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Garza started his tenure in MLS with Atlanta, where he played as a member of the club's 2017 expansion side and and the 2018 team that won MLS Cup. He then spent 2019-20 with FC Cincinnati where he made 22 appearances.

Garza is only 29, but has been playing professionally since he was 16, which he said leaves him feeling as though he accomplished everything he wanted to in the game despite having offers to continue playing.

“It’s a very tough decision, but a peaceful one to try to settle down and realize there are bigger things without kicking a ball every day and still loving life to its fullest,” Garza told the AJC's Doug Roberson.

“You dedicate so much time and effort, a whole life, to achieving something,” he added. “Once you achieve it, there’s not much else you can do in your career. Your trade is professional soccer. For me, now it’s trying to take that expertise and all of that teaching that I have learned to try to guide me toward that next chapter.”

Garza also detailed some of the injury struggles he experienced throughout his career, including a sports hernia and hip and shoulder injuries that he says were a contributing factor in the decision.

He originally joined Atlanta on loan from Liga MX side Club Tijuana after a grueling rehab process following a hip operation. He credited Atlanta's 2017 expansion season for helping revitalize his career.

“They took a chance on me, and I think that 2017 season was the most fun I had in my career,” he said. “It brought back that passion. ‘My body can still do some pretty cool and amazing things.’ From the get-go, I got to Atlanta and made an image for myself, within the organization and within the community.”

Garza started his professional career in Portugal with Estoril Praia before joining Tijuana, where he played from 2012-2017. He joined Atlanta on a permanent basis after spending the 2017 with the Five Stripes on loan, before getting traded to FC Cincinnati.

He also ends his career with 10 senior caps for the US men's national team, which he cited as a highlight of his career.