from the smiling faces in Autograph Alley to the medical staff that kept me on the field -- for making my time here in Columbus so wonderful for me and my entire family," said Maisonneuve. "The friends and memories that I have made here in Columbus I will always hold close to my heart. I always thought that when I retire the hardest part of it would be not playing soccer on a daily basis, but that's not the case. It is leaving a fantastic league, it's walking away from the best organization, in a great city, with the best fans. And its saying goodbye to the family that is created every year in the locker room. Thanks for the best nine years of my life. I love you Columbus."
Maisonneuve, a three-time MLS All-Star, was limited to nine appearances for the Crew during the 2004 season, playing 427 minutes for the Black & Gold. His superb MLS career comes to a close with 172 games played for Columbus.
"Brian Maisonneuve has been an integral part of the Columbus Crew since the inaugural season," said Crew head coach Greg Andrulis. "He has epitomized what this franchise is all about: hardworking, dedicated and community minded. Although injuries curtailed his career, his presence as a player and a person will be forever remembered and a benchmark for future players who wear the Black & Gold."
"On behalf of the Crew organization, our founder Lamar Hunt, and our entire ownership group, I would like to express our gratitude to Brian Maisonneuve for his exemplary service during his nine-year career with the Crew," added Columbus general manager Mark McCullers. "We wish him and his family the very best. His leadership and presence will be missed."
A gritty player with a hunger for the ball, Maisonneuve had the ability to take control of the midfield in almost any situation. A tough tackler and a reliable passer, Maisonneuve often served as the player that linked defense to attack, helping to move the ball up field, often after dispossessing opponents himself.
Aside from a great career in Columbus, Maisonneuve also found success at the international level, picking up 13 caps for the U.S. national team. The pinnacle of his time with the Red, White and Blue came in 1998 when he was on the field in all three of the USA's games at the FIFA World Cup in France. He also was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. He started all three of the squad's matches in the Sydney Games, scoring two of the team's four goals.
An impressive college career at Indiana University was capped by winning the MAC Hermann Trophy as a senior in 1994. Maisonneuve then made a seamless transition to the professional game, playing in 15 games in the first-ever MLS season in 1996 after being allocated to Columbus. He notched 12 points on five goals and two assists during his rookie campaign.
A consistent starter for the Crew in his first two seasons, Maisonneuve's contributions were limited in 1998 by a right ankle injury and national team duty. He would return to form in 1999, playing 29 games, all but one of which were starting assignments. However, a series of further ankle injuries in 2000 threatened his career.
Maisonneuve underwent a reconstructive procedure on his right ankle on Jan. 18, 2000. Complications in his recovery -- including an infection in the ankle -- would force three additional operations, keeping the Warren, Mich., native out of action for the year.
But he would return to the Crew in 2001 and have his best-ever season for the club. After missing nearly 18 months of action, Maisonneuve posted career highs in both goals (eight) and points (21) to make him the third-leading scorer for the Crew on the season.
Another fine season in 2002 saw Maisonneuve help the Crew to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship, the first and only title the Crew have ever captured. He would return to the field again in 2003, playing 26 games (all starts).
Members of the Crew have already reported to the club and are scheduled to begin preseason training this week. They will kick off their 2005 season at home on April 2 when they host the Los Angeles Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. ET at Crew Stadium.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.