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Eskandarian sidelined indefinitely

Alecko Eskandarian, a D.C. United fan favorite and MVP of the 2004 MLS Cup who was sidelined by concussions on two occasions, is taking an indefinite leave from soccer.

In an e-mail to the Insider, Eskandarian said: "As a result of injuries that I suffered, I am being forced from the game of soccer at this time. I have not been able to receive clearance by doctors, and therefore I must take a step back to focus on my health and recovery. This has been a very frustrating and disheartening realization for me, and I don't think the reality of it has set in yet. However, after consulting with several doctors, it is clear that I have no other option at this point in time."

Keep reading.....

Eskandarian, 27, starred at the University of Virginia and was drafted first overall by United in 2003. He scored 10 regular season goals the following year and helped United win the MLS title with a two-goal performance in the final against Kansas City.

However, in a midseason match against New England the following year, he suffered a concussion in a collision with goalkeeper Matt Reis and didn't return until the next season. After scoring seven league goals in 2006, he was traded to Toronto and later moved to Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA and Los Angeles.

With the Galaxy last summer, he was performing well until he suffered a broken nose and concussion during a friendly with AC Milan. Since then, he has been receiving treatment and visiting specialists.

"I want to thank my family, friends, teammates and the L.A. Galaxy for being supportive throughout this whole process, as it has not been easy," he said. "And I want to especially thank the fans for all their great support throughout my career. This is an extremely sad day for me because soccer has been an integral part of all 27 years of my life, but I will do my best to remain optimistic while on this road toward a full recovery."

Although he didn't use the word "retire," Eskandarian seems unlikely to play again and has explored other career opportunities. He will not be included on the Galaxy's roster this season.

By Steve Goff  |  March 11, 2010; 4:24 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , MLS  
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damn Matt Reis

Posted by: rockotodd | March 11, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

One of the saddest developments both for United and I believe for US soccer. If he had been injury free, he could have been a solid and valuable contributor both for DC and the national team.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | March 11, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Damn Shame.
Hope you can find another dream Alecko.
Or you find a miracle. Keep your head up and get healthy brother!

Posted by: DadRyan | March 11, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Eski was a fan favorite at Toronto. It's a shame when the will is there but the body fails.

Posted by: DetroitTFC | March 11, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Maybe soccer is 50 years behind the NFL...

Posted by: Reignking | March 11, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

One of my favorite, if not my favorite, United players ever. Best of luck in whatever comes next Alecko.

Posted by: leafblower | March 11, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Matt Reis has been "Sagat" to me ever since his Tiger Knee on Alecko. Esky gave everything for the badge, and will always be black & red.

Posted by: DCU_Rick | March 11, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Alecko will be a long remembered character. I'll never forget him scoring on the recently renamed Red Bulls. Someone threw him a can of the stuff. He popped it open, guzzled and spit it out in disgust. That must have cost him some $.

Speedy recovery Esky! Stop playing--your health is far more important....

Posted by: lovinliberty | March 11, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

"Eski was a fan favorite at Toronto. It's a shame when the will is there but the body fails.

Posted by: DetroitTFC | March 11, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse"

I think there's a typo. You meant to write, "It's a shame when the will is there but Matt Reis scrambles your brain with a vicious knee to the head."

Posted by: EdTheRed | March 11, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Damn, this is terrible news.

Matt Reis is a thug.

Posted by: lastort1 | March 11, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's hoping that Alecko can finally earn his UVA degree.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | March 11, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Best wishes to Alecko. I remember his first goal for United.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 11, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

A very classy player, wish him the best wherever this takes him.

Posted by: patrickneil | March 11, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

You are just full of good news today Goff. Good luck Eski.

Posted by: rwhgeek | March 11, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

FIFA needs to take a look at head injuries just like the NHL and NFL are doing. This is becoming a disturbing trend in soccer.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 11, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

His blizzast against the Revs in the playoffs stands as one of the finest goals in United history. We'll miss you Esky.

Posted by: ddd001 | March 11, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Concussions are a trend because trainers aren't keeping players out of action for the appropriate duration of time. United never had a problem with concussions when Ric Guter was here.

Posted by: ddd001 | March 11, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

He won us our last MLS Cup (with a little help from his hand). Always liked his passion and effort. Wish him the best.

Posted by: ManuteBogues | March 11, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Two best Esky moments for me:
1) the goal against the Revs in the '04 Conf game. Still amazing to watch on video
2) the Red Bull celebration

He had the kind of drive that Olsen did, never gave up while he was on the pitch. We could use more guys like that.

Good luck, Esky.

Posted by: eadc | March 11, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow! How sad. I remember his year of 2004 for us... it had me thinking this guy was going to be the future of US soccer up front, with his speed, agressiveness, and ability to finish opportunities with world class goals. Sadly after his injury he wasnt the same guy I remembered, and his level of play dropped, and soon was traded.

I wish him the best if he decides to retire, because its hard out there right now trying to work the normal life.

Posted by: BolivianDCFan | March 11, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but all of you going on about Matt Reiss need to get over it. I've watched the video many, many times and he made no attempt to knee Alecko in the head. He didn't pull out of the collision, but keepers are trained not to do that. In fact, they're trained to go into collisions with their knees up to create a barrier around themselves.

I like Alecko and I love what he did for us, but his concussions (of which he has had many) are just an unfortunate side-effect of the way he liked to play.

Posted by: mmathai | March 11, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Esky. You made many fans with your joyful, creative play. May the fun continue in your new adventures.

Posted by: billq1 | March 11, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Sad news. Esky will always be a fan favorite in DC. If he can't make a return to the soccer field, I hope he finds happiness and fulfillment in other endeavors.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 11, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Its been a trend for some time, I imagine. Its only recently that folks are realizing that there's a link between concussions and dementia or alzheimers. Maybe soon we'll see field players with mandatory full headgear.

Although, if FIFA cant agree to support something as simple as goal-line cameras then the chances of it requiring headgear are non-existant.

Posted by: hacksaw | March 11, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm in agreement with crofton and hacksaw.

There was a time when football players didn't wear helmets. There was also a time when goalies didn't even wear facemasks. I grew up watching pro hockey players without helmets. Eventually, they all had to wear helmets. Now, they even wear visors. These changes start as voluntary changes, usually from concerned parents, or players who've had a good scare. Eventually, a critical mass is achieved and the authorities require them.

Of course, it does change the game in unexpected ways. With all that padding and protection, slapshots became much more common. In football, as helmets have become more like cages, players are more confident in using their heads as weapons -- leading to more concussions and many more spinal injuries.

One thing that might keep soccer from such unintended consequences is that the head in soccer really is part of the game. Headgear in soccer would have to be designed in a way that doesn't prevent the head from being used to play the ball with control. Otherwise, it will never be accepted. Wayne Rooney would never give up his amazing headers. Not sure if it's really possible to design headgear that doesn't interfere with heading the ball and still offers some protection, but it should be a high priority.

Posted by: fischy | March 11, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Matt Reis was, is and always will be dead to me.

Posted by: BelovedCartoonMouse | March 11, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

It took 4 ACL surgeries before I was willing to consider giving up soccer, and I'm not even a pro. I feel Esky's pain. It is very emotional to not be able to play the game you love anymore. My condolences to him.

Posted by: SeanWG | March 11, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

The guy is a character in all the right ways. May the road rise to meet you, Esky.

Posted by: wichne | March 12, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

My favorite moment was the Red Bull celebration. That seemed to exemplify the swagger this team used to have. I sorely miss it.

Posted by: axman664 | March 12, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Put him in the booth and let Rongen stick to coaching. I think Esky could be a fantastic commentator.

Posted by: M__N | March 12, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree with fischy when he writes:
"Not sure if it's really possible to design headgear that doesn't interfere with heading the ball and still offers some protection, but it should be a high priority."

I remember when Esky first took the field with his headgear. I hadn't seen it before, but thought it was sensible. As a fan, I'd have no problem if all the players wore those discreet head pads, and I'm sure they would learn how to be just as effective with them than they currently are without them. It may require an across the board mandate by FIFA, however, so that one striker who chooses to wear the headgear doesn't become less effective than an opponent who doesn't. Maybe FIFA should mandate the gear at the youth level, and then let them all grow up into senior positions and it will be universal.

Posted by: WorldCup | March 12, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"Put him in the booth and let Rongen stick to coaching. I think Esky could be a fantastic commentator."

I absolutely agree. Eski is a great player and also cool on camera. He knows the game well and has a natural talent on and off the camera. It doesn't hurt that he is a fan-favorite to many. Get in the booth Eski!!!

Posted by: jessica86 | March 15, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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