John Wolyniec, the 12-year MLS veteran who is still the only player in New York Red Bulls franchise history to score a goal in the MLS Cup Final, announced his retirement from professional soccer on Thursday.
Wolyniec spent more than seven seasons in New York, earning his place alongside other fan favorites as Mike Petke, Clint Mathis and Seth Stammler during his tenure. He retires ranked second all-time behind Petke in club history in games played (142) and with 26 of his 33 career MLS goals coming either with the MetroStars or the Red Bulls.
The Red Bulls plan to honor Wolyniec, who has accepted a position with the Red Bull Academy, at their match at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 2 against the Kansas City Wizards at 7:30 PM ET.
[inline_node:317975]“Over the last 12 years, I have been able to live my dream of being a professional soccer player and I am so grateful to the individuals who have helped me along the way,” Wolyniec said in a statement. “I would not have been able to have such a successful career without the support of family, friends, coaches, teammates and fans. Though I will miss the game, I am looking forward to the new challenges ahead."
The Staten Island, N.Y. native will likely be remembered in New York circles for two landmark goals, including his tally in the 2008 MLS Cup against the Columbus Crew in New York’s only league championship appearance in franchise history.
He also scored what some consider the greatest goal in franchise history on Sept. 20, 2003, striking a left-footed game-winning volley against the Crew off a 50-yard pass from Amado Guevara.
“John has been a wonderful player and ambassador for the club and the league for so many years,” said Red Bull New York General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. “We hold him in the highest regard and his work ethic and professionalism both on and off the pitch was second to none. We want John to continue to be a part of this club for years to come and we’re excited to give him to opportunity to pass along the values he has to the next generation of players.”
Wolyniec started his career in 1999 with New York, before enjoying stints with the Chicago Fire and the New England Revolution. The former Fordham University standout returned to New York in the 2003 season and had his best year statistically in 2004, playing in 30 games and scoring 10 goals and three assists.
He was traded to the Columbus Crew in 2005 and then to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2006 before he again rejoined New York for a 2007 MLS SuperDraft fourth round selection and a 2008 second round selection. In 2008, Wolyniec was instrumental in the team’s first trip to the MLS Cup Final, scoring two goals and adding an assist and starting in each of the team’s playoff games.
Overall, Wolyniec made 192 total regular season appearances during his career, logging 10,035 minutes. He appeared in four league games during the 2010 season before he was waived by the Red Bulls on July 30.