Sporting KC midfielder Felipe Gutierrez retires after 15-year professional career in MLS, South America and Europe

Felipe Gutierrez

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Gutierrez announced his retirement from professional soccer today after a heralded 15-year playing career across four different continents.

Gutierrez spent four seasons with Sporting, including a three-year Designated Player stint from 2018-2020 and the final campaign of his outstanding career in 2023. The versatile midfielder enjoyed a well-traveled and prolific playing journey, tallying 63 goals and 46 assists in 392 club appearances with stops in the Chilean Primera Division, Dutch Eredivisie, Spanish La Liga, Brazilian Serie A, UAE Pro League and Major League Soccer. He also collected 35 caps for the Chile Men’s National Team as a 2014 FIFA World Cup participant and a 2015 Copa America champion.

A native of Quintero, Chile, Gutierrez starred for Sporting in 2018 and 2019 before missing the 2020 campaign through injury. He ended his first spell at the club with 19 goals and nine assists in 63 matches across all competitions, helping Sporting to a first-place finish in the Western Conference in 2018 and earning team MVP honors in 2019. Upon his return to Kansas City in 2023, he made 11 more appearances and helped Sporting complete its climb from last place in the Western Conference to an upstart playoff participant that ousted top-seeded St. Louis City SC in Round One of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Gutierrez began his professional career at Chilean powerhouse Catolica in 2009 and had a breakout season for the club in 2011, scoring 10 goals in the top-flight Primera Division as Catolica finished atop the Apertura standings and won the Copa Chile. He then moved overseas to the Netherlands, where he began a successful stint with first-division side FC Twente. After competing in the UEFA Europa League in his first season with the club, Gutierrez delivered a stellar sophomore campaign as the 2013-14 Eredivisie Most Valuable Player, tallying three goals and four assists in 33 league appearances. Despite missing most of the 2014-15 season, he bounced back for a strong 2015-16 campaign with starts in 27 of 30 appearances.

Gutierrez moved from Netherlands to Spain in 2016, signing for La Liga side Real Betis. His first La Liga goal was a stoppage-time winner as Betis beat Osasuna 2-1 in October 2016. The midfielder then spent most of 2017 on loan at Internacional in Brazil, where he played 16 games and helped the club gain promotion to the top-flight Serie A.

Inking a Designated Player contract for Sporting in early 2018, Gutierrez scored five goals in his first five appearances under Manager Peter Vermes, including match-winning goals in each of the club’s first three victories of the year. His hot start culminated in MLS Player of the Month honors for March, setting the tone for a season that would see Sporting finish atop the West and reach the conference finals. Gutierrez finished the 2018 regular season with seven goals and two assists and added three assists during the club’s playoff run.

In 2019, Gutierrez landed Sporting KC Golden Boot honors by scoring 12 goals and becoming the fourth midfielder in club history to hit double-digit goals in a single regular season. He also had four assists and led all Sporting field players in appearances (38), starts (37) and minutes (3,225) across all competitions.

At the end of 2020, he left Sporting and returned to Catolica in Chile. He notched six goals and six assists across two seasons for the club before finishing 2022 with the Rapids in MLS, where he had two assists in 12 games. Gutierrez spent the first six months of 2023 with Al Wasl in the United Arab Emirates, recording a goal and two assists in nine appearances. He began his second stint for Sporting in July as the team advanced to the Leagues Cup Round of 16 before winning six of its final nine regular season matches to vault into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. He made his final appearance for the club on Oct. 21 as Sporting topped Minnesota United FC 3-1 at Children’s Mercy Park to punch its playoff ticket on the final day of the regular season.

Gutierrez first represented the Chile Men’s National Team in May 2010, debuting in a 1-0 friendly win over Northern Ireland. The following year, he was included on Chile’s squad for the 2011 Copa America but did not feature in the competition. Gutierrez became a regular contributor for La Roja during 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying—scoring his first international goal against Argentina in October 2012—and later earned a spot on Chile’s roster for the prestigious tournament in Brazil. The midfielder featured in each of Chile’s four World Cup matches as La Roja advanced out of the group stage before falling to hosts Brazil on penalty kicks in the Round of 16.

In 2015, Gutierrez helped Chile win the country’s first Copa America title on home soil. In the tournament final, the hosts edged Argentina 4-1 in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw to hoist South America’s most coveted international trophy. He made another eight appearances in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, where he again scored a goal versus Argentina in March 2016, and was selected to Chile’s roster for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. Gutierrez was selected to the Chile national team in October 2018 and September 2019 as an unused substitute for matches during both FIFA windows.