Sporting Kansas City midfielder Paulo Nagamura retired on Monday, ending a 12-year MLS career filled with trophies. But he's not going far from the club where he won the 2013 MLS Cup and two US Open Cup championships.
Nagamura will stay in Kansas City and join the coaching staff of Swope Park Rangers, Sporting's USL side, as an assistant to new head coach Nikola Popovic.
“In this era of Sporting Kansas City, it is so great to add one of our icons in Paulo to the technical side,” Sporting manager Peter Vermes said in a club release. “Naga had a huge impact on the success of the club, but equally as important is his understanding of the culture, and he will certainly help pass that along to the players going through the pathway of becoming a pro.
"Coaching and mentoring is in his makeup, and as we look back with pride on his performance on the field in a career centered on his competitive spirit and professional nature, we are excited for the impressions he will make as a coach.”
The 33-year-old Nagamura joined Sporting before the 2012 season after stints with the LA Galaxy (where he won an MLS Cup/Open Cup double in 2005), Toronto FC and Chivas USA, with whom he earned MLS All-Star honors in 2009. He also played for Tigres de UANL in 2010, in between his two stints with Chivas USA.
In five seasons with Sporting, he appeared in 119 matches, notching seven goals and eight assists.
The Brazilian-born Nagamura was an ace in three title-match shootouts for Sporting, converting his penalties in the MLS Cup victory and in the penalty stages of the 2012 and 2015 Open Cup finals. He hit the winner in the 2012 final against Seattle, albeit on his second try, after Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning saved the first but was called off his line.
"Soccer has been my life, and stepping away from the field is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make," Nagamura said in a statement. "Having said that, I am very excited to begin the next chapter of my career. I would like to thank everyone who has showed me support along the way, from teammates to coaches to owners and fans. I would like to thank my family for the unconditional love they have given me through the good times and bad. Every time I stepped on the field, I gave it my all and you pushed me to be the best I can be.
"Soccer has given me so much, and I look forward to giving back as I move into a coaching role with the Swope Park Rangers. This is a very exciting opportunity for me and I can't wait to work alongside Peter, Nikola and the entire technical staff to continue the strong tradition of winning championships in Kansas City."