Starring for multiple MLS franchises across an impressive career, Jeff Larentowicz is among the most well-respected midfielders in the history of Major League Soccer.
Larentowicz ranks fifth all-time in minutes and fourth in total appearances.
Chad Marshall and Kyle Beckerman are the only outfield players to have recorded more MLS minutes, while his appearances tally puts him far clear of MLS icons like Landon Donovan and Kei Kamara.
Owning a collection of nicknames – many of which were typically predictable – Larentowicz was a popular teammate at each of his clubs.
Whether referred to as ‘Big Red’ or ‘Der Kaiser’, he was consistent throughout his decade-plus in Major League Soccer, winning a couple of MLS Cups along the way.
He’s one of a relatively small group to win the MLS Cup with different teams, first lifting the trophy with the Rapids in 2010 before a 2018 triumph with Atlanta United.
Style Of Play
As the nickname with a nod to Franz Beckenbauer suggests, Larentowicz was a deep-lying midfield player with the occasional tendency to break forward.
He was at his most comfortable, particularly later in his career, when shielding the defence. Atlanta United benefited greatly from Larentowicz’s positional sense to cover for surging teammates and snuff out potential counter attacks.
In the final stop of his lengthy MLS career, Larentowicz would slot in between the central defenders in possession. His reading of the game meant he always provided an option for his teammates, operating as a safety valve.
He paired this with solid passing range to pick out opponents, finding his creative teammates further up the field.
The tackle and interception numbers were never particularly spectacular, but Larentowicz offered so much more than his statistical output.
A safe pair of feet in possession, he would often place highly in pass completion, and brought a sense of calmness to his teams in the back end of his professional career.
Larentowicz had an eye for an ambitious pass. He could play through an opponent’s press, quickly transitioning his team from under siege to on the front foot.
The combination of defensive nous with solid technical ability made Larentowicz a rock at the base of the midfield. His speed of processing compensated for ageing as he reached his twilight years, too.
Never the flashiest or most dominating, Larentowicz was a player who made life easier for his teammates in all phases of the game.
Jeff Larentowicz’s retirement became public in April 2021, six months after Atlanta United had announced he wouldn’t be returning to the team.
That trade set Larentowicz up for MLS Cup glory, but he was again sent on the move in 2013 as the Chicago Fire acquired him in a deal involving draft picks and slot money.
Becoming a free agent in 2015, Larentowicz’s stint in the Windy City drew to a close. He joined a star-studded LA Galaxy team, but it was again short-lived. California was swapped for Georgia as he penned a free agent pact with Atlanta United in 2016.
It was with Atlanta that Larentowicz won his second MLS Cup as a pivotal member of the team. His career was one of graft and proving people wrong.
He was doubted when he first entered the league, and he evolved from squad player under Tata Martino at Atlanta to a crucial cog in their winning machine.
Already a veteran and established as an MLS great, Larentowicz thrived under the challenge in Atlanta.
Speaking on his journey at the club, he said, “Once you know yourself and you know your attributes and you say, ‘I’m OK with those,’ then you kind of can start to grow and you become good at what you’re good at and even better at what you’re good at.
“I knew that I was the guy at the beginning of the year who had to prove himself. And when a new coach came in, it was like, ‘I know this guy’s not going to like me from the start. I’ve just got to chip away and show him every day that I’ve got what it takes.'”
Retirement is a daunting moment for many athletes, and Larentowicz was no different.
“I love the game. I’m always going to. It’s always going to be a part of me. Like I said, I’ve been speaking to other guys, they all say it gets easier, but it never leaves you. I’m sure I’ll always have it in me.
“But I think what I’ve found in talking to a lot of people is I’ve built up a lot of skills in a very unique kind of framework and career.
“And if I’m honest with myself, there are a lot of things I lack and maybe I need to go out and find those things, develop those things and ultimately kind of become more rounded as a person, as a hireable employee and then potentially reenter soccer. But I haven’t made any decisions yet. I’m still working on it.”
Larentowicz’s career was one of defying expectations, a triumph of hard work, of commitment to his career and ultimately of success.
As proud as he must be of what he achieved in MLS, retirement is a giant step into the unknown for professional sportspeople. Only time will tell if we see more of him around Major League Soccer.
Jeff Larentowicz Career Statistics
Fifth in minutes and fourth in appearances, Larentowicz had remarkable durability.
He maintained a high level of fitness deep into his thirties and adapted his game to cope with the natural consequences of ageing as a midfielder.
While goals were more of a bonus than a staple of his game, Larentowicz finished as the Rapids’ top scorer in 2011 with eight. That was the most prolific season of his MLS career and his loyal fans bought Colorado Rapids merchandise to commemorate the feat.
He played a total of 515 matches in his club career and earned four caps for the USMNT. The 42 MLS goals scored ranks 47th in MLS history,
Larentowicz’s never-say-die attitude and consistent play warranted respect across the numerous clubs he played for – he made over 100 appearances for four different franchises.
Here is a timeline of Larentowicz’s MLS career…
- New England Revolution, 2005-2009, 141 appearances, 10 goals
- Colorado Rapids, 2010-2012, 110 appearances, 15 goals
- Chicago Fire, 2013-2015, 103 appearances, 15 goals
- LA Galaxy, 2016, 30 appearances, 1 goal
- Atlanta United, 2017-2020, 131 appearances, 3 goals