Fan favorite and always a picture of calm in the midst of chaos, midfielder Andy Williams was the lone player who bridged the gap between Real Salt Lake's dark early years and the MLS Cup.
Williams, 34, the last remaining playing member of the original RSL team and one of Jamaica's "Reggae Boyz," called it a career Monday, retiring after 14 years of MLS and international soccer. Williams is scheduled to join the RSL technical staff.
"I'm thanking everybody," said Williams, who made the announcement on 700 AM's "Bill & Spence" Show. "Even the ones who didn't like me. They were the ones who pushed me to play better."
Williams, who played in a franchise-high 189 games, was RSL's first pick of the 2004 MLS Expansion Draft. After playing for five teams in his first six years in the league, Williams found a home and stability.
"Andy Williams has been â¦ 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," Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said.
Kreis was Williams' teammate in 2005, RSL's first season. Though Williams' production fell off in 2011 two goals and just one assist he still played in 31 games and played his most minutes since 2005.
"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," RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey said.
During RSL's run to the 2009 MLS Cup championship, Williams scored two goals and had a hand in six others.
"It's been amazing," said an emotional Williams, adding that he decided to play in 2011 after what he called a good year in 2010. "It didn't fall the way I expected."
Williams expressed his desire to remain in Utah and thanked RSL fans for their support, especially during his wife's battle with cancer starting in 2009. Marcia's cancer eventually went into remission.
Williams played 332 career regular-season matches, scoring 30 goals with 86 career assists that place him eighth in MLS history.
Williams entered MLS in 1998, and led the Columbus Crew in assists. The same year that he represented Jamaica in the World Cup. Williams also played for Miami, New England, New York and Chicago.