On Saturday, Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz continued his extensive career as he made his 316th MLS start. The 33-year-old is now tied for 9th all time amongst field players with Davy Arnaud and Pablo Mastroeni surpassing U.S. Soccer and MLS legend Landon Donovan (315).
“My goal was always to get 300 games as a player, to get beyond that is great,” said Larentowicz. “I want to keep playing, I feel good playing, let’s keep going.”
The veteran midfielder has enjoyed a longstanding career in MLS, making his debut with the New England Revolution in 2005 and spending time with the Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fire, and LA Galaxy before joining Atlanta United for its 2017 inaugural season.
“The advice for the young guys and young pros is that you’ve got to push yourself,” said Larentowicz, “you’ve got to be able to stay patient and work hard even when it feels like you’re not really getting anywhere because chances come and go. When you’re not getting them, sometimes it feels like you never will but you always do. So you have to be prepared when you get your chance.”
For a young Atlanta United side with an average age of 25, there are many looking for their first chances to take the field, and on the same night Larentowicz jumped up in the rankings in all-time league starts, 16-year-old Homegrown Andrew Carleton subbed in for his first-ever MLS appearance.
“I congratulated him on his debut and I said ‘you’ve got many more ahead.’”
He has plenty of confidence in guys like Carleton, but to play as many matches as Larentowicz -- particularly in MLS with its long seasons and physical reputation -- can take a toll on your body. The midfielder says it’s crucial that you “enjoy it.”
“If your mind is healthy, your body will be healthy,” he said, “and if you’re enjoying it then your mind is healthy. You can push yourself as hard as you want, and good things happen when you’re pushing yourself.”
It’s been a long journey with many stops on the way, but Larentowicz admits he couldn’t be happier at his current destination, “I’m ecstatic. I’m very, very happy to be here, to be playing with this team, this club, this staff, in front of the fans, and I think a lot of people say it, but I mean it, I’m enjoying it.”