After undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right knee a week ago, Joe-Max Moore has decided to retire from professional soccer, the former U.S. international and New England Revolution veteran said on Thursday.
On Jan. 21, Moore had the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee surgically repaired at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and he decided it would be best to step away from the game in light of this most recent setback. Moore's final two seasons, both spent with the Revolution, were cut short by injuries. In 2003, Moore played in 16 games, missing time in the middle of the season due to an ankle sprain and being forced to sit out the end of the season with a sprained left knee. This past season, Moore appeared in only three games before suffering a sprained right knee that caused him to miss the remainder of the campaign.
"After numerous attempts to strengthen and stabilize my knee through rehab, it became clear that I had no alternative but to have reconstructive surgery. Considering my age and the recovery time necessary, I have decided to end my playing career," the 33-year-old Moore wrote in a letter to fans and the soccer community. "I move forward with peace of mind, knowing that I gave everything as a player and that every attempt was made to return to the field."Injury woes aside, Moore will likely go down as one of the best strikers in U.S. national team history and he is almost assured of a spot in the National Soccer Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in three years.
A veteran of three World Cups, Moore last took the field for the USA in the final match of the 2002 World Cup group stage against Poland. Moore never notched a goal in the World Cup finals, but he ranks third all-time on the U.S. national team with 24 goals, and his two goals against Jamaica on Oct. 7, 2001, at Foxboro Stadium put the U.S. into the 2002 World Cup.
Moore is also one of only a handful of players to have been capped 100 times with the U.S. team, and he finished his 10-year career among the top five in national team history in both assists and points.
In 1993, Moore's most successful year with the U.S. national team, the striker notched one of just four four-goal games in U.S. history. That performance against El Salvador would have stood alone as the greatest single-game goal-scoring effort the U.S. has ever seen, but what would have been Moore's record-setting fifth goal slipped through a hole in the net and the referee ruled the ball had gone wide.
Moore made a mark in MLS as well. He served two stints with the Revolution sandwiched around a three-year spell with English Premier League club Everton, serving as New England's dangerman in the days before Taylor Twellman.
Moore twice earned the Revolution's Honda MVP award (1996 and 1998) and led the club in goalscoring twice, as well (1996 and 1999). In 1999, Moore collected a career-high 15 goals, which tied him for fourth in the league and earned him an All-Star nod. He ends his career as the Revolution's all-time leading scorer with 117 points (41 goals, 35 assists).
Prior to joining MLS, Moore played for German clubs FC Saarbruecken and Nürnberg, and he also spent time with Ecuadorian club Emelec during a loan spell after the 1997 MLS campaign.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.