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Real Salt Lake's Andy Williams announces retirement

Published: Monday, Dec. 5 2011 8:48 p.m. MST

It's not quite on his own terms, but Andy Williams is calling it a career.

The 14-year MLS veteran, and last remaining player from Real Salt Lake's inaugural season in 2005, announced his retirement on Monday afternoon.

"I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm glad I came to Salt Lake City. For me and my family to call this home, it's been amazing," Williams said while making his announcement on ESPN700.

Williams' contract with RSL expired at the end of the 2011 season, and he wanted to play another season. RSL didn't offer him a contract to his liking, though, and he decided to test the waters of the MLS Re-Entry Draft on Monday.

He wasn't selected and opted for retirement instead when RSL offered him a scouting position on the team's technical staff working closely with general manager Garth Lagerwey.

"I thought it was going to push it one more year. It didn't fall the way that I expected and I decided to take a different route," said Williams, who said he's excited about his new endeavor, particularly the opportunity to keep his family in a city he loves.

Williams, 34, played 332 games in his MLS career, registering 30 goals and 86 assists. During his seven years with Real Salt Lake, he played in 189 league games with 14 goals and 29 assists.

Williams has been a fan favorite with Real Salt Lake over the past seven years. The soccer community rallied around him back in 2008 when his wife was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Numerous bone marrow drives were held to help her find a match.

RSL coach Jason Kreis, who leaned heavily on Williams throughout the 2011 season as the club dealt with numerous injuries and national call-ups, said Williams will certainly be missed on the field.

"Andy Williams has been an integral member of Real Salt Lake since the club's inception, an important player and a critical leader on and off the field and an integral part of the changing of the culture of our club, but, most importantly, Andy has been a terrific personal friend and family member of RSL," said Kreis, a teammate of Williams' for two-plus years before his own retirement in 2007.

"While it is always disheartening to see the playing career of someone you truly care about come to an end, I can honestly say that I am pleased it has come to an end wearing the RSL colors, and that he has chosen to stay with this club as we embark on another great journey to rebuild.

"There is no doubt that we at RSL have lost one of the all-time greats on the field today," Kreis said, "but I truly feel we may have gained someone that can contribute in an even more significant fashion now off it."

Williams played for six teams during his 14-year MLS career, and also represented his native Jamaica during the 1998 FIFA World Cup. His MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake in 2009 was his lone championship.

Lagerwey believes Williams' vast playing experience will help the club in its scouting efforts around entire North American continent.

"We are honored that he has chosen to accept our invitation to join our technical staff. Leaving the playing field is never easy, but Andy is a gifted person who will continue to help RSL off the field now just as he led us on the field for the past seven years," said Lagerwey.

Williams is the fifth RSL player from the 2011 team that won't be back in 2012.

On Monday, Chivas USA selected Arturo Alvarez in the first phase of the MLS Re-Entry draft. Last week, RSL traded Robbie Russell to D.C. United and Jean Alexandre to San Jose for draft picks, and the week before the club lost second-year midfielder Collen Warner to Montreal in the MLS expansion draft.

Email: jedward@desnews.com

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