CARSON, Calif. - Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Cobi Jones announced today that he will play one more season before retiring at the conclusion of the 2007 MLS season. Known for his speedy play and dreadlocks, Jones is one of the most recognizable and dangerous players in the history of UCLA, Major League Soccer (MLS) and U.S. Soccer. Entering his 12th MLS season, the 36-year-old Jones began his MLS career in Los Angeles after being the second player assigned to the Galaxy and is the only player in MLS history to play for the same team since the inception of the League in 1996.
"It's been an honor and a pleasure to represent my country and the city of Los Angeles over the span of my career. I will never forget what "The Beautiful Game" has given me, the wonderful friends and the great fans that have supported me throughout my career," said Jones. "I hope that people remember me, not only for the accomplishments that I've had, but also how I've conducted myself on and off the field. I want to pass the legacy that I have created of supporting the game of soccer as well as being an advocate of the game onto younger players who come after me.
I wanted to be competitive, but I wanted to have fun as well and I think I've accomplished both of those things throughout my 15 years of playing professional soccer."
With No. 13 in the lineup, the Galaxy has been a dominant force in MLS capturing all three major regional championships, including MLS Cup Championships in 2002 and 2005, U.S. Open Cups in 2001 and 2005 and the CONCACAF Champions' Cup in 2000. He also qualified the Galaxy for the 2001 FIFA World Club Championship, but the tournament was canceled and so he missed a chance to play Real Madrid (Spain), Jubilo Iwata (Japan) and Accra Hearts of Oak (Africa) in Spain.
"Cobi Jones has always been the consummate athlete and professional," said Timothy J. Leiweke, President & CEO, AEG. "Playing a sport in southern California that is often overshadowed, Cobi's commitment to his team, to promoting soccer, to his community and to the youth of our region has singled him out as a caring, dedicated and true leader in all of these respects."
"Having always respected Cobi's wisdom and advice, he was the first person whose opinion I sought on whether or not to approach David Beckham about playing for the Galaxy. His valued counsel on this matter led us to pursue this bold and unprecedented acquisition for soccer in the United States and the Galaxy."
"From the very beginning, Cobi Jones has been the heartbeat of the Galaxy. He is the Galaxy."
During his MLS career, Jones has appeared in a total of 10 championship finals including five MLS Cup finals (1996, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2005), four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finals (2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006) and two CONCACAF Champions' Cup finals (1997 and 2000), winning an impressive total of five championship titles. In addition, the Galaxy advanced to the league semifinals seven times (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2005).
"Major League Soccer has been fortunate to have Cobi Jones grace our stadiums since the League's inception in 1996. Cobi is not just a soccer icon, but an American sports icon that has represented our country, professional sports and soccer in America with professionalism, class and a true commitment to being a role model," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "When we look back on the people and events that have helped established MLS over more than a decade, Cobi Jones is certainly one of the key contributors to writing our short history. We look forward to enjoying Cobi on the field in a Galaxy uniform for one more season and honoring him at the end of the year."
A native of Westlake Village, Calif., Jones ranks as the Galaxy's all-time leader in almost every major statistical category, including games played (281), goals (66) and assists (86). He also boasts an impressive 139-98-44 regular season record and 26-15-4 playoff record when wearing the Green-and-Gold uniform.
"We've been given a gift, the opportunity to salute this Galaxy legend should not be wasted," said L.A. Galaxy President and General Manager Alexi Lalas. "It is because of players like Cobi Jones that our team, our league and our sport has survived and thrived. Here's to a year-long celebration of a true MLS original!"
An eight-time MLS All-Star (1996-2003), Jones won his first championship with the Galaxy, capturing the 2000 CONCACAF Champions' Cup and then going onto win the 2001 U.S. Open Cup. Following three previous MLS Cup finals, he led the Galaxy to its first League championship, defeating the New England Revolution 1-0 in extratime for the 2002 MLS Cup title. In 2005, he played a key role in the Galaxy becoming the third team in League history to capture the "Double", winning the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup over FC Dallas 1-0 and the New England Revolution 1-0 in extratime, respectively.
"First and foremost, the fact that Cobi has consistently played at such a high level with the Galaxy and the national team throughout his career is an incredible achievement," said L.A. Galaxy Head coach Frank Yallop. "He is as good as any that has played in this league for the last 12 years. His persistence, work ethic and will to win are what sets him apart from other attacking players. He knows the game inside and out, and knows how to get the most out of each situation."
In 2003, Jones played in his 200th career MLS match, following retired teammate Mauricio Cienfuegos as the second player in club history to accomplish the feat. He notched two historic milestones during 2001, becoming the third player in MLS history to register 50 goals and 50 assists (Preki and Jason Kreis) and scoring the 300th all-time regular season goal for the Galaxy on April 28.
Jones became the third player to surpass the 50-point scoring threshold in a single-season in League history in 1998, joining Stern John (1998) and Roy Lassiter (1996).
Prior to joining the Galaxy, Jones played in England for Coventry City of the Premier League (1994-95) and in Brazil for Vasco da Gama (1995-96). He debuted with Coventry City on Sept. 16, figuring in both Coventry goals in a 2-1 victory over Leeds United. Jones assisted on the first goal and was taken down for a penalty kick on the second. He notched his first goal for Coventry in a 1-0 win over Norwich on November 19, 1994.
A member of U.S. National Team from 1992-2004, Jones made 164 appearances, the most all-time among U.S. internationals. He represented the USA at three FIFA World Cups; USA '94, France '98 and Korea/Japan '02 and was one of only two USA players to have played every minute in both the 1994 and 1998 World Cups. He played with the national team in the 1995 Copa America and five editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup (1993, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002), in addition to representing his country at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
"It is impossible to focus on just one element of Cobi Jones' career when trying to reflect on everything he has meant to our sport across the past two decades," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "He is one of the all-time cap leaders in world soccer, he was an integral part of three U.S. World Cup teams, he has played every season in Major League Soccer for the same club, he has won championships, been an all-star, played in Europe, played in the Olympics; the list just doesn't end."
"He was even the first soccer player to experience celebrity status off-the-field in the early 90s," added Gulati. "Cobi's career in soccer has literally covered it all and we are all fortunate to have had such a wonderful ambassador supporting the growth of our game through the years."
In 2002, he tied former D.C. United midfielder Earnie Stewart with 11 all-time appearances in the World Cup finals as he played a key role as a substitute against Portugal and Mexico. In addition, he was third player to reach 50 career points for the U.S. Men.
Jones was voted the Honda Player of the Year in 1998, which recognizes the best player on the U.S. National Team as chosen by the national sports media. He was the youngest men's player in the world to reach 100 international appearances on February 10, 1998 against Brazil in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, doing so at the age of 27.
In his USA debut, he earned the start versus Canada in a 2-0 win on September 3, 1992 and went on to score his first goal for his country a month later against the Ivory Coast in a 5-2 victory on October 19, 1992.
At UCLA, Jones went from walk-on freshman in 1988 to NCAA National Champion in 1990 to UCLA Hall of Famer in 2002. He eventually won a scholarship with his outstanding play and became one of UCLA's all-time greats. He was a catalyst to UCLA's 1990 NCAA Championship run and was selected by the NSCAA as a second-team All-American in 1991 after setting a UCLA single-season record with 18 assists. The three-time All-Far West performer was twice named UCLA's Offensive MVP (1989, 1991) and finished his career with 23 goals and 37 assists. His 37 assists rank second on UCLA's career list.
U.S. National Team Highlights:
Stats UCLA Galaxy USA Seasons with Team: T-First (4) First (12) T-Fourth (12) Games Played: Third (90) First (281) First (164) Games Started: Third (86) First (262) Third (109) Goals: 21st (23) First (66) Seventh (15) Assists: Second (37) First (86) First (22) Points: 17th (83) First (218) Fifth (52)