Legendary midfielder’s national team career to end at conclusion of 2015
By Gunnar Berndt
Chicago, Ill. – Chicago Red Stars and U.S. Women’s National Team great Shannon Boxx today announced her retirement from National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) play, effective immediately. The legendary midfielder, who won her first FIFA Women’s World Cup this year in her fourth appearance on the game’s biggest stage, cited wanting to be closer to her husband and baby daughter in Portland, Oregon. The American team’s upcoming victory tour will mark Boxx’s final times donning the jersey of the Stars and Stripes, for whom she has played on nearly 200 occasions since her debut in 2003.
California native Boxx spent her college years as a member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, followed by an impressive 16-year career that saw her do battle for Germany’s FC Saarbrücken as well as teams in three different North American professional leagues. After stints with the WUSA’s San Diego Spirit and New York Power in the early 2000s, the U.S. international laced up for WPS outfits Los Angeles Sol, Saint Louis Athletica, FC Gold Pride and magicJack between 2009 and 2011.
Boxx joined the Red Stars for the inaugural season of the NWSL in 2013 but made just two appearances as a result of injury. In 2014, she took the field on five occasions, missing much of the season due to pregnancy and giving birth to her first child. The three-time Olympic gold medalist beat the odds this year by making the World Cup roster despite having been away from the U.S. squad for two years and continuing to battle lupus, an autoimmune disease that got worse during and after her pregnancy.
Boxx has seen the field four times for Chicago in 2015.
Said the 38-year-old in a statement, “Thank you to all of the fans that have supported me over the years, and to the cities – Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Bay Area, West Palm Beach, Saint Louis and Chicago – for the opportunity to play the game that I love.
“For every athlete, having to walk away one day is an inevitable certainty. This is the right decision for me right now, and though I’ll continue on with the USWNT and our victory tour, I look forward to the next chapter in my life. Having the time to focus more on my family, whose support has made everything possible, is something I will cherish as much as the game.”
When asked which of the many highlights of her career rank highest, Boxx listed several but admitted she was particularly thrilled about lifting the most coveted of trophies this summer, having come close on three previous occasions.
“I loved every Olympics and each of the golds was amazing, but the World Cup is simply the biggest stage you can play on,” said the midfielder. “We were trying to win it for the entire twelve years I’ve been on the national team, and it seemed to be the one thing I just couldn’t accomplish. To finally be able to get that was really, really great. My journey back to that level was a very difficult one, and knowing I managed to overcome the obstacles to make the team and help win a championship feels amazing.”
Boxx appeared in the Red Stars’ official “Welcome Home, World Cup Heroes” match against Boston Breakers on July 18. In her pregame comments, she hinted at retiring soon, though many thought she might finish out the NWSL season with Chicago.
“I felt that being a part of that occasion was really important for myself, for the organization, and for the fans,” said the U.S. legend. “At that point I wasn’t sure what I would do and was actually going through a pretty stressful time trying to make a decision. In the end, it came down to what was best for my family back in Portland. When I spent a couple of days at my house there after the game in Chicago, I saw how much my daughter thrived on that and it really put me over the top.”
Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames was full of praise for his three-year midfielder.
“Shannon is one of the best professionals I’ve ever been around,” he said. “She radiates confidence and has won at every level, now including the World Cup, which makes me very happy for her. We will really miss her experience both in the locker room and on the field. After all, she is the most accomplished player on our team and you simply can’t replace her personality and leadership. With all that said, I’m so excited for the journey Shannon is about to go on of really spending time with her family and raising her daughter. I think she will enjoy it tremendously and wish her nothing but the best.”
The sentiment was echoed by Chicago General Manager Alyse La Hue.
“There are few players who have as decorated a career as Shannon,” she remarked. “What she brought to the organization were so many intangibles that only someone who has competed at the highest level for such a long time and persevered through seemingly insurmountable obstacles could bring. We’ll miss her day-to-day presence, but we’re grateful for her time here and that she ended her lauded career as a Red Star.”
While Boxx will no longer be a part of her NWSL team’s fight for the 2015 league crown, she made it clear she cherishes her time in the Windy City and closed her comments by assuring fans she will be there in spirit as the club heads into the final third of its season.
“I’ve always loved Chicago and felt very close to my teammates there,” she said. “I think that’s what I’m going to miss most about playing professionally – being among friends who are all competitive and all share a common goal. You can’t quite get that in any other environment or job. I believe I became a better person because of the girls around me.
“Of course I will continue to root for the Red Stars. Even during the World Cup, we were constantly saying, ‘Gosh, look at how great they’re doing back home.’ I’ve told the players that I’m always there if they need anything. The fact I’ve made a decision for my family doesn’t mean I’m no longer emotionally invested. I believe the team has an amazing opportunity to bring a championship home to Chicago.”
The Red Stars look to defend their spot atop the NWSL table when they host a true blockbuster clash with defending champions FC Kansas City on August 1 that could feature a combined total of seven World Cup winners. Single-game and season tickets for the 2015 campaign may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-698-6001.