December 2nd is becoming a day of retirements it seems. Earlier today the Terry Boss retirement became official, and now Taylor Graham is also retiring. Graham's MLS career may be one easy to pass over in history, but if there is one thing he was and always will be is a Sounder. Over the past several years with the team in two iterations playing for Adrian Hanauer and Brian Schmetzer he won the Defender of the Year, twice was was names to the First Team in the USL as well as the Humanitarian of the Year in 2009. He was a part of teams that won seven major trophies in North American soccer.
With Graham's retirement and the loss of James Riley the Seattle community loses two of its strongest players in charity works. Taylor work extensively with America SCORES Seattle and was a sample that no matter the role of a player on the team he can do great work. Mike Fucito talked about the team losing Riley and Graham's influence towards community action;
They both did so much out there. I live with Taylor so I've seen what he's done first hand so I know the kind of work and effort he did. All of us like to get out there and do it and we can't replace what they did, but we can do more.
In Graham's final statement as an MLS player he mentions the influence of Hanauer and Schmetzer,
I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to play for both Brian Schmetzer and Adrian Hanauer for six years," said Graham. "They were both instrumental in my growth as a person and my success on the field.
I need to echo that statement from Graham and make it about Graham. Very early in this blog's life he talked to me a few times both in on record conversations and once as a guest for a charity event I ran. That event was just days after I reviewed Taylor's 2009 season. It was a little harsh, he said to me that it was fair and honest. He recommended that I stick to being fair and honest in my opinions and if a player ever wanted to give their side I should do so. Maybe that influence has limited my fire at times, never in a gamethread, but his words stuck with me.
As someone who followed the USL team Taylor Graham will always be in my memories. As someone who wants to root not just for good players for good men he will remain an inspiration. I hope others on the team step up and carry the yoke that Riley and Graham pulled through areas of need. Every team needs that. I wish him the best of luck on his future path and thank him for the time he gave this city both on the field and of course off.
Here's the press release
Defender Taylor Graham Retires
RENTON, WASH. - Taylor Graham, Sounders FC defender and a seven-year MLS veteran, has announced his retirement, Seattle Sounders FC announced today.
"We want to thank Taylor for all of his contributions to the Sounders and the Seattle community," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. "He has been a Sounder for many years and will always have a special place in the hearts of our supporters."
"It's always tough to say goodbye to something that I've been doing for so long," said Graham. "I love Seattle and I love the Sounders, but I'm ready for the next step in my life."
Graham, 31, signed with Sounders FC on January 21, 2009 after spending three seasons (2005, 2007-08) with the USL-1 Sounders. Graham made one league appearance in his three seasons with Seattle and started nine of his 10 appearances across all competitions, logging 822 total minutes. He started four matches during Seattle's three consecutive Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title runs and started five CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage games in 2010.
"I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to play for both Brian Schmetzer and Adrian Hanauer for six years," said Graham. "They were both instrumental in my growth as a person and my success on the field."
Prior to joining Sounders FC, Graham played four MLS seasons for Kansas City (2003-04) and New York (2006-07), appearing in 34 games. He was a member of the 2005 and 2007 USL-1 Seattle Sounders championship teams. Graham was named USL-1 Defender of the Year in 2005 and first team All-USL-1 in 2005 and 2008. A graduate of Stanford University, Graham was also named the club's Humanitarian of the Year in 2009.
Transaction: Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) - DEF Taylor Graham retired