Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Kara Lang retires from soccer
Kara Lang has announced her retirement as an active soccer player from international and club duty. Still only 24 years old, Lang is a two-time FIFA World Cup player, an Olympian and a CONCACAF champion. She is also a W-League champion with Vancouver Whitecaps FC and a Canada Games gold medalist with Ontario.
“I have come to the very difficult decision to retire from soccer and step down from the national team,” said Kara Lang. “I have always held myself to a very high standard - as it is demanded at the international level. Regrettably, I am physically incapable of maintaining that standard and fulfilling my role as a player.”
Kara spent nine years with the national team, having made her debut at age 15 on 1 March 2002 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. Her last international appearance was 5 November 2010 at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Cancún, Mexico.
“For the past ten years, this team has been my second family and this program my second home,” said Lang. “It has been an honour and a priviledge to represent my country and I am extremely proud and grateful for the career I have had.”
At age 15, she was the youngest member on Canada’s national team. Two days later, she became Canada’s youngest scorer in a 4:0 win over Wales. Despite only making her entrance as a substitute, she scored two goals in the second half.
“I am also grateful for having the opportunity to play under Carolina Morace for the past year and a half, as I consider her a mentor both on and off the field,” said Lang. “I am very excited about the future of this program under the guidance of Carolina and I know that she will bring this team and soccer in Canada to the highest level.”
In all, Lang made 92 appearances for her country. In 2005, she was the youngest player to reach the 50-match milestone. She also scored 34 goals during her career, the fourth most in team history.
Lang participated in two FIFA Women’s World Cups (2003, 2007), one Women’s Olympic Football Tournament (2008), one Pan American Games (2007), and four CONCACAF championships (2002, 2004, 2008, 2010). She also participated in two FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups (2002 silver and 2004) and two CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championships (2004 gold and 2006).
At club level, Lang spent most of her career with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. This included her return to the club in 2010 where she also served as a club ambassador for women’s soccer in the community. Lang helped Whitecaps FC to United Soccer Leagues W-League championship titles in 2004 and 2006. In five seasons with the club, Lang appeared in 36 matches, scoring 14 goals and adding eight assists.
Lang also played for the W-League’s Pali Blues in 2009, which on the west coast was close to her school UCLA (2005-2009). Lang was a standout for the UCLA Bruins, helping the team reach the NCAA championship final in 2005, only falling on the final day to the University of Portland. On the year, she scored 17 goals and six assists, both club records for freshmen players.
While her first knee injury made her miss the entire 2006 college season, the second injury curtailed her final college season in 2009. That second injury (again an ACL tear) was suffered on 27 September 2009.
She recovered from both injuries, the first time joining the national team on the road to the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007. After her second injury in 2009, she returned to the national team in 2010 and helped Canada win its second CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
She scored her final goal in her final start on 31 October 2010 against Guyana.
Amongst her goal-scoring highlights, she is one of just six Canadians to score four goals in a match and one of just two players to score 10 or more goals in back-to-back seasons. She was not only the youngest Canadian to score a goal in an international match, but also the youngest Canadian to score in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, a CONCACAF Women’s Championship, and the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament.
Lang was also a workhorse, leading the national team in minutes played in her first two seasons. In 2003, she set national records (since passed) for matches (21) and minutes played (1,740) in a single year. Her 21 goals over those two years (2002-2003) were only surpassed by Christine Sinclair’s 22 from the same two-year period.
Her 92 career appearances rank 8th all time on the women’s national team. In both 2003 and 2010, she helped Canada set national records with 13 wins on the year. The highlight of that 2003 season was a fourth-place finish at the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003.
“I feel that as a player, I have received everything I can from the game and have given it everything I have,” said Lang. “I also believe that I still have a lot to offer the national program and soccer in this country. I plan to continue to be involved and support my team and this program as much as possible in other capacities.”
Lang was born in Calgary, AB, but grew up and played soccer in Oakville, ON. She was five years old when she started playing for Oakville Soccer Club.
- Sad to see Lang needs to retire at such a young age. Especially due to injuries, that's always tough. She'll be missed and also disappointing she won't be a part of the 2011 World Cup in Germany.