Today Chris Armas has officially hung up the boots on a proud career for club and country. The 35-year-old from Brentwood, N.Y., has left an indelible mark on soccer in the United States, as much for his gutsy performances as for the effect that he had on the players and coaches around him. Armas represented the United States 66 times at the senior international level, and was chosen as part of the 23-man squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup before an injury prevented him from going to Korea. A two-time CONCACAF Gold Cup winner (2002, 2005), Armas contributed mightily to two World Cup qualifying campaigns and wore the captain's armband three times in his eight-year career with the full team. He recorded two goals and one assist in 2000, his consistent play earning him U.S. Soccer Male Athlete honors that year.
Armas will be remembered on the field for his relentlessness and determination, and off the field for his kindness and values. He had a huge impact on those that were fortunate to have coached or played along side him, and several of those fortunate few are currently here in South Africa. ussoccer.com spoke with former Fire members Bob Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra and Peter Nowak about Chris Armas the player, and Chris Armas the man. Click on the name of the speaker to hear the full podcast:
"He's a great competitor. He did a lot of little things on the field that made other players better and helped the team win. He leads by example. He's not someone who is yelling all the time. He just does the right thing on and off the field almost every time. To have a player that comes in every day and is excited about the team and training, gets along with people, and just has such a positive way, it's special. On the field, it's just incredible to see a player who does the dirty work and makes the extra effort to always take care of plays, covers for other people, tackles, runs, makes the simple pass ... in all ways, his personality just rubs off on everyone."
U.S. National Team head coach Bob Bradley
"Chris is a great guy all around. On the field, he gave everything he had. He is one of those guys that goes unnoticed a lot of the time because he not in the stat books that much, but he did all the dirty work that mattered so much for the team. He put his heart and soul into every game. For me coming out of college, seeing his effort day in and day out was great to see. I remember him chasing down players and making their lives miserable all game long. He was great to have as a teammate."
U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra
"With Chris, you always knew what you were going to get from him. He was great captain, a great player and a great person. He meant a lot to me. He was my first-ever captain, and being able to learn under him was great for me being a young player. He is someone I look up to."
U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley
"As a player, Chris is a man not of words, but of action, and his actions spoke for themselves. When he took over as captain, he got the young kids going and kept the message going about continuing the tradition of the Chicago Fire. It was a privilege to work with him. It wasn't pleasurable to play against him! When we played against each other in practice, there was always a battle because he wanted to shut me down, and I wanted to show him that I was still better. That work made us both better, and there was always respect from both sides. I played with a lot of good players, and I would put Chris in the best category of guys who played behind me on the field. Even ahead of guys like Jens Jemeries from the German national team. I appreciate the work he did for the team. You never forget guys like that. He will be missed very much around the league."
U.S. Under-23 head coach Peter Nowak