Sporting Kansas City midfielder Paulo Nagamura announced Monday that he has retired from professional soccer and will join the Swope Park Rangers as an assistant coach ahead of the 2017 USL season.
"Soccer has been my life, and stepping away from the field is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make," Nagamura said. "Having said that, I am very excited to begin the next chapter of my career. I would like to thank everyone who has showed me support along the way, from teammates to coaches to owners and fans. I would like to thank my family for the unconditional love they have given me through the good times and bad. Every time I stepped on the field, I gave it my all and you pushed me to be the best I can be.
"Soccer has given me so much, and I look forward to giving back as I move into a coaching role with the Swope Park Rangers. This is a very exciting opportunity for me and I can't wait to work alongside Peter [Vermes], Nikola [Popovic] and the entire technical staff to continue the strong tradition of winning championships in Kansas City."
Nagamura, 33, ends an exceptional 12-year MLS career with two MLS Cup championships and three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles. He started 240 of 269 MLS appearances (including playoffs) from 2005-2016, recording 15 goals and 21 assists while featuring in eight separate editions of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“In this era of Sporting Kansas City, it is so great to add one of our icons in Paulo to the technical side,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “‘Naga’ had a huge impact on the success of the club, but equally as important is his understanding of the culture, and he will certainly help pass that along to the players going through the pathway of becoming a pro. Coaching and mentoring is in his makeup, and as we look back with pride on his performance on the field in a career centered on his competitive spirit and professional nature, we are excited for the impressions he will make as a coach.”
Nagamura will now embark on an assistant coaching career with the Swope Park Rangers, who were crowned 2016 USL Western Conference champions in their inaugural season. He will join newly appointed head coach Nikola Popovic as the Rangers begin preparations for the 2017 campaign as Sporting KC’s USL affiliate.
In five seasons with Sporting Kansas City, Nagamura tallied seven goals and eight assists in 119 appearances (102 starts) across all competitions. The veteran midfielder played a pivotal role in some of Sporting Kansas City’s biggest moments in club history, converting penalty kicks in shootouts of the 2012 and 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups as well as the 2013 MLS Cup. Nagamura played 120 minutes in each cup final victory as Sporting Kansas City became the only team to win three major trophies between 2012-2015.
A native of Brazil, Nagamura began his youth career with hometown club Sao Paulo FC in 1994 before moving to Arsenal FC of the English Premier League in 2001. He signed for the LA Galaxy in 2005, where he won the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup in his first professional season at the senior level.
After two years in LA, Nagamura continued his MLS journey with Toronto FC (2007) and Chivas USA (2007-2011), becoming an MLS All-Star in 2009.
- 12-year MLS veteran (2005-2016)
- MLS All-Star (2009)
- Two-time MLS Cup champion (2005, 2013)
- Three-time U.S. Open Cup champion (2005, 2012, 2015)
- Started 240 of 269 career MLS appearances (including playoffs)
- Started 102 of 119 total appearances for Sporting KC (2012-2016)