Please don’t leave us Jeff Larentowicz

**** VISUAL LEDE **** August 14, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United captain Jeff Larentowicz hoists the trophy for the team to celebrate a 3-2 victory over Club America to win the Campeones Cup on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, in Atlanta.   Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
**** VISUAL LEDE **** August 14, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United captain Jeff Larentowicz hoists the trophy for the team to celebrate a 3-2 victory over Club America to win the Campeones Cup on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

I don’t know if Jeff Larentowicz is going to retire as a professional soccer player.

Just because Atlanta United doesn’t want to re-sign him it doesn’t mean that he’s ready to go.

I hope that he doesn’t retire.

He deserves, in my opinion, at least one more season playing for a team that has a chance to compete for an MLS Cup.

And I mean as a player and not as an ornamental signing, a gesture done of kindness. I couldn’t imagine him stomaching that.

Though 37 years old, Larentowicz still has legs. I would imagine he still has desire.

That fuel has carried him from Brown through a (still going) career in MLS eclipsed in appearances by only one player. If you look at his time at Atlanta United, first Gerardo Martino, then Frank de Boer and then Stephen Glass tried to move on from him only to realize that the team had a better chance to win with Larentowicz on the field.

There won’t be another player like Larentowicz in MLS.

He’s not flashy. You won’t see stepovers. You won’t see flicks. The day he attempted a bicycle kick I thought Sam Jones might explode with ecstasy.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

He’s not about trends. You won’t see tattoos. You won’t see him on social media, at least likely not for a few years.

You will see a guy who knows how to do his job. You don’t survive 437 appearances without knowing what to do.

You will see leadership. He has captained several teams. He, Michael Parkhurst and Brad Guzan provided the leadership that helped Atlanta United win three trophies. Just add copies of those trophies to a Larentowicz cabinet that already included an MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup. I wrote this last week, but during the 2018 title winning season, at least once a week you would see Larentowicz leading a group of players after training playing shooting games as they made their way around the large training pitch, picking out a target and seeing who could get closest with a swing of a leg at the ball.

Credit: Jacob Gonzalez

Credit: Jacob Gonzalez

You will see intelligence. Listening to Larentowicz answer questions always was refreshing because he would actually think about the question and provide an honest answer, even if it was critical of himself or the team. He was particularly adept at explaining tactics. When he would meet with us after training, he’d usually stand the same way: hands gripped behind his back, right foot slightly in front of the left. When listening to a question, he’d look at you. When thinking about his answer, he’d look down to the right.

You will see accountability. Larentowicz always held himself accountable. He would hold me accountable, too. One time, he answered a question for me. I thought he meant one thing with his answer. He actually meant the opposite. After a training session, we talked about it. I apologized. He accepted. We moved on. I appreciated him coming to me.

I’ll miss talking to Larentowicz in locker rooms after games. I wouldn’t approach him after most losses. Even after so many years, he still took defeats hard. But after wins, he usually was there. We’d talk about rock music, our kids, where we were in learning the guitar, or what else was going on in MLS.

Sometimes I’d ask him something about what the league was doing. Sometimes, he’d give a colorful response. I’d wait a few minutes because I knew he was going to come back and say please don’t use that. He always did. I never used what he said.

If Larentowicz does retire, I’ve no idea what he will do next.

After all the work he’s done to help strengthen the players through the Major League Soccer Players Association in collective bargaining agreements, it would seem odd for him to go to work for a team as a front-office employee. Almost a betrayal, for lack of a better word.

I think he would make a great TV analyst, but it strikes me that would probably be the very last thing that he would want.

Whatever Larentowicz decides, I wish him well.

Credit: Elsa

Credit: Elsa

About the Author