Longtime MLS and current FC Dallas defender Bakary Soumare will retire at the end of the season after a nine-year professional career, he announced on Monday, citing reoccurring injuries.
In an Instagram post on Monday, his 30th birthday, Soumare said, “recent health setbacks have made this a necessity.”
30. When the birthday cards began arriving in my mailbox a few days ago, I stared at the number, incredulously. My 20s — where had they gone? Time is passing too quickly. Until this week, birthdays for me were nearly always a time for celebrating the moment; rarely were they marked by reflection, much less consideration of the future. Today is different. As I turn 30 today, I wanted to take this opportunity to officially announce my retirement from soccer at the end of this season. Recent health setbacks have made this a necessity. But while I make the decision with conviction, it is one that has sparked a great deal of personal and professional reflection along with enthusiasm for what lies ahead. Soccer — football to some of you — has provided me with an abundance of good fortune and riches, far behind what any child born in Mali, West Africa in 1985 could have imagined. From the first days that I arrived in New York City as a child with my adoptive family, to an island that had barely enough land for soccer fields, I received unconditional support and guidance from my family and coaches. In particular, Dave Masur and John Diffley at St. Johns University played significant roles in my athletic development as my dream of playing professional soccer matured into a reality. Soccer has carried me far beyond the tiny village of Soueina where I was born. And for nearly my entire adult life, the game has provided me with a wealth of privileges — traveling the world, representing my country, performing before amazing crowds of fans and foreign dignitaries, all while earning a very generous living — but none greater than meeting the scores of people along the way who inspired and befriended me. As I reflect on my career, I am overwhelmed by memories that I will cherish forever: hearing my name called at the 2007 MLS draft; signing with French Ligue 1, the very league I grew up watching on television as a child; feeling butterflies while singing Mali’s national anthem during World Cup qualifiers; playing for Bundesliga-side Karlsruhe and their magnificent fans; the contagious spirit of Chicago’s Section 8 members...
Soumar has not made an appearance for FC Dallas after arriving in a midseason trade. He also played for the Montreal Impact and Philadelphia Union and had two stints with the Chicago Fire, the team with whom he started his professional career in 2007. He made a career-high 28 starts for the Fire in 2008 and made 115 starts (125 appearances) over the course of his regular-season MLS career, appearing four times in the playoffs.
The No. 2 overall pick by the Fire in the 2007 SuperDraft out of the University of Virginia was also capped 13 times by Mali and played in the 2010 African Cup of Nations. From 2009-12, he played in France with Boulogne and in Germany with Karlsruher.
In his retirement announcement, Soumare expressed gratitude for his time as a player, saying the game “provided me with an abundance of good fortune and riches, far behind what any child born in Mali, West Africa in 1985 could have imagined.”