Aly Wagner retires, or: Nothing can break your heart more slowly or frequently than a Santa Clara Bronco.

Sure, this is a few days old, but she was enough of a figure that it warrants a mention.  Aly Wagner has retired from professional soccer.

I have to admit, that as a US Soccer fan and armchair midfielder, I gave Wagner a pretty hard time. I felt she was inserted into national team rosters, promoted by their media folks, and then failed to make any sort of impact in big games. Her admittedly brilliant passes and nigh unparalleled vision seemed to be reserved for minnows, in games of little importance. I was constantly frustrated by Wagner because I knew what she was capable of, and I wanted to see it.

While she seemed constantly beset by injury during both her collegiate and professional careers, it seemed she bore the worst of it during her later years on the national team all the way through her first (and only) year on the LA Sol.

I don’t know if there are any players that have Wagners skill or vision (Angie Woznuk of the St. Louis Athletica comes quite close) and I don’t know when we’ll see any more. It seems this country develops fewer patient, crafty attackers every year.

ETA: I also include Wagner as probably the last of the much-hyped players who didn’t drink their own kool-aide. She was hyped, but she kept working and never seemed to take herself seriously.

Personally, I find a lot of the young stars out there to be quite full of themselves, getting used to coaches and small-time press kissing their asses non-stop from prep, through college and onto a professional career. I consider this problem to be a big factor in the failure of the 2006 U-20 WNT in Russia, but am keenly aware that I am probably in a minority who believes this way.

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