After 14 seasons in Major League Soccer, Chris Wingert announced his retirement on Monday, taking his final bow in an Instagram post chronicling highlights and friendships accumulated through the years.
Wingert started his career with the Columbus Crew after winning the MAC Hermann Trophy during his senior season at St. John’s University. He played two seasons in Ohio before a trade to the Colorado Rapids in 2006 and after a season and a half, he was traded again to Real Salt Lake, where he made his home in 10 of the next 11 seasons, taking one season with expansion New York City FC in 2015. That one-season homecoming was just a brief hiatus before his return to the Claret-and-Cobalt in 2016 for his final two seasons.
All told, he played 247 of his 339 career MLS regular season matches with Real Salt Lake. Only Kyle Beckerman (284) and Nick Rimando (307) have appeared in more matches in the club’s 13 seasons.
As the curtain comes down, we asked several of his longtime teammates to offer perspective on his time with Real Salt Lake.
Kyle Beckerman, Wingert’s teammate for 12 seasons with RSL and the Colorado Rapids and longtime friend – “Without Wingert in Real Salt Lake, we don’t win a championship. We don’t go on the run where we’re at the top and chasing trophies. Chris was a huge part of building the foundation of this club that we still stand on. He was the utmost professional on the field, great in the locker room and he was a great steward in the community. He’s definitely going to be missed, for sure.”
Nick Rimando, Wingert’s RSL teammate for 10 seasons – “Chris was a part of a group of players that turned RSL around. From his first year till his last, Wing worked endlessly for the growth of soccer on and off the pitch. It was a pleasure sharing the field with him because he was such a warrior - someone you could count on whenever his name was called. He was one of the hardest workers on the team and lead with his gritty mentality. I’m gonna miss seeing him on the pitch but mostly in the locker room, such a great teammate, pro, leader and friend.”
Justen Glad, Wingert’s teammate for three seasons at Real Salt Lake - “Wingert was one of the first guys that welcomed me into the team. He was super friendly and outgoing. He’s always been there for the young guys and that’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s a humble guy and always looking to see where he can help out. He’s a professional on and off the field. Just seeing the way he carries himself is a great example for anybody. I’m grateful to have been able to play by his side and form that friendship. I’m excited to see what’s next for him. I know it’s going to be something that’s going to show what kind of person he is and I know it’s going to benefit others.”
Craig Waibel, Wingert’s position coach in 2014 and the General Manager that brought him back to the organization in 2016-17 – “Chris is the ultimate competitor – the type of player that you’d want in your locker room because you know he won’t let the level in training dip. Beyond that, he has been so instrumental in the growth of this organization through what he does on the field and in the community. There are few better ambassadors for this club over the last 10 years than Chris and he will always have a legacy with the club.”