Jeff Larentowicz is known for his dry sense of humor in post-match media scrums. Years ago, he made a comment to reporters that was laughed off as Jeff being Jeff, but really it turned into a goal.
“I got to 300 [games] and a reporter asked what’s next, and I said ‘400’ and he laughed and I said ‘Well, I’m going to try it’,” Jeff told reporters on Sunday in his typical deadpan. Perhaps after his stellar performances for the Five Stripes over the past two seasons, maybe 500 is right around the corner.
Larentowicz became just the third field player to ever hit the 400 mark in MLS history, joining Kyle Beckerman and Chad Marshall in the exclusive club. It’s an incredible achievement, especially for someone that slipped all the way to the Supplemental Draft.
“It’s fantastic and an unbelievable achievement,” Brad Guzan said after the match. “The manager said congratulations to him before he addressed the team. I think that speaks volumes about what he has been able to accomplish here in this league. To play that many games in any league around the world is a huge accomplishment. I couldn’t be more excited for him. He fully deserves it. He’s a fantastic teammate and even a better professional."
So what’s the secret to longevity in this league? Avoiding serious injury certainly helps, but Larentowicz displayed his typical humility when asked about it after the match.
“It was a little bit of motivation but it takes a lot of things to make it happen,” he said, “I am thankful to really have this opportunity over the last few years. Immediately after 300 [games] it was tough, so I’m happy to have the chance.”
So what’s next? Is 500 his target? Larentowicz said he’s done putting a number on his goal, and just wants to keep this magical run with Atlanta as long as he can.
“The next goal is to help this team in anyway,” he said. “Success feels very good. Not having success does not feel very good. I think everybody is getting a sense of how good it feels to be doing well and how much it requires to do well. And I think we have kind of gotten back to that mindset. Helping in anyway, I stood in this locker room a few months ago and felt very good and I think getting back to that point would be enough.”
So the goal for Jeff Larentowicz is another champagne shower in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium locker room. It’s fair to say any Atlanta United fan would be just fine with him achieving that. And after all of his accomplishments so far, it seems impossible to rule that out.