Well I had a feeling it might come down to this, given all the circumstances on each side of the situation, it was of little surprise to me today when Andy Williams decided to retire rather than face the 2nd re-entry draft. I had hoped that both sides would be able to reach some type of arrangement that would allow Andy to remain on the pitch another season or two, but clearly as age catches up with all of us there comes the question of do you go out on top? For the last two years I have thought that Andy Williams was playing better than he had in a long time, but the question was how long could it? would it last?
My question is was this a joint move to allow RSL room both on the roster and with the cap to find a younger outside midfielder? With both Arturo Alvarez and Andy Williams gone, that leaves Ned Grabavoy to fill that position and while Ned is capable on both sides of the ball he has been a more defensive player than compared to either of the others.
It is clear that as the last original that Andy Williams has a special place in the heart of all RSL fans, when you combine that with the issues the Williams family had to deal with the last couple years, and perhaps no player has a closer connection with the fans of Real Salt Lake than Andy Williams.
I have to believe that RSL and Andy will continue their relationship off the pitch as I can think of nobody who embodies what makes RSL special better than does Andy Williams and I hope that he remains in the area for a long time to come, despite the cold weather. (Update- it appears that Andy will join the RSL staff as a scout, something I think he will be good at).
It is a sad day for those of us who have followed RSL from the first day.
Update - after the jump some quotes from Jason and Garth about Andy's retirement
OFF MY SOAPBOX
Both Jason and Garth added their thoughts to ours on what Andy means to RSL:
"Andy Williams has been an integral member of Real Salt Lake since the club's inception, an important player and a critical leader on and off the field and an integral part of the changing of the culture of our club, but, most importantly, Andy has been a terrific personal friend and family member of RSL," said RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis, a fellow member of the squad's 2005 Inaugural Season. "While it is always disheartening to see the playing career of someone you truly care about come to an end, I can honestly say that I am pleased it has come to an end wearing the RSL colors, and that he has chosen to stay with this club as we embark on another great journey to rebuild. There is no doubt that we at RSL have lost one of the all-time greats on the field today, but I truly feel we may have gained someone that can contribute in an even more significant fashion now off it."
"We would like to thank Andy for all of his commitment and service to Real Salt Lake and recognize him as arguably the most memorable player in our franchise's history," said RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey. "We are honored that he has chosen to accept our invitation to join our Technical Staff. Leaving the playing field is never easy, but Andy is a gifted person who will continue to help RSL off the field now just as he led us on the field for the past seven years."
I have to say the response of fans, fellow players and various media people on twitter has been incredible, here are just a few of the many:
RobbieRussell03 Robert I. O. Russell
@bommadog was an original @RealSaltLake!! If anyone deserves a testimonial game it's him!! Hope we can get that done... Retweet if you agree
rsl_jeremy Jeremy Horton
My best to @bommadog. Great player. Greater person. #legend
NickRimando Nick Rimando
Can't say enough about @bommadog. Amazing player, true friend, stand-up guy, wonderful husband & father. Gonna miss U on the pitch bud. #OG
natborchers Nat Borchers
@bommadog - legend: smooth on the ball, cannon of a shot, great personality, electronics wizard, & selfless teammate. Will miss u. #legend
wvhooligan Drew Epperley
Kind of bummed to see @bommadog retire but very happy for him. MLS needs more like him. Congrats Andy.
duresport Beau Dure
I remember seeing RSL in training and being amazed by Andy Williams' (@bommadog) touch and skill. Great to watch him play.
MLS_Analyst Matthew Doyle
The retirement of Andy Williams is one of those things designed to make me feel old.
SoccerByIves Ives Galarcep
Still left feeling like Williams had 1 more year in him. Looked good in the playoffs. He always tried 2 PLAY soccer. MLS needs more like him
I thought those were worth sharing.