CHICAGO -- U.S. soccer star Eddie Pope is retiring from international competition, ending a career in which he played in three World Cups and the 1996 Olympics.Eddie Pope scored the winning goal for DC United in overtime against LA Galaxy to win the inagural MLS Cup in 1996. It was the first soccer game I ever saw. I was 10, and to me Eddie Pope was the greatest soccer player in the world. He instantly became my favorite. 10 years later, Eddie Pope was still my favorite. I learned a little more about soccer and realized His Holiness maybe wasn't the best, but the initial impression he made on me never left. I can still hear "and a golden goal off of the head of Eddie Pope!" in my head when I remember that day Eddie Pope became my favorite soccer player. The first thing I do whenever I start a season in Winning Eleven or FIFA is sign Eddie Pope. I've worn his jersey proudly to see him in person last summer in Chicago. I'll pick a new favorite eventually, after an appropriate mourning period, but they'll never match Eddie Pope in my heart. His Holiness may wear 23, but to me he'll always be #1.
Pope is playing for Real Salt Lake this season in Major League Soccer, but has missed the last two games because of a bruised right foot.
The 32-year-old defender was replaced on the MLS all-star team Thursday by D.C. United defender Facundo Erpen. The MLS stars play English Premier League champion Chelsea FC on Saturday.
"After having the opportunity to play in my third World Cup and taking some time to reflect with my family, I felt like it was the right moment to say goodbye to the national team," Pope said.
"I'll miss all my teammates, and I will always appreciate the successes we had together. I really never imagined that my international career would last this long, and I am very grateful for the opportunities over the last 11 years," he said.
Pope played internationally for 11 years and appeared in nine World Cup matches.
"Eddie Pope is arguably the finest defender this country has ever produced," former U.S. men's soccer coach Bruce Arena said.
Pope tied Kasey Keller and Claudio Reyna for the most World Cup qualifying appearances in U.S. history with 31. He scored eight times for the United States, including a goal in a 2-2 draw with Mexico in a World Cup qualifier in 1997.
Pope has made the All-Star team in all 11 of his seasons in the MLS. A three-time champion, he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give D.C. United the title in 1996.
Eddie Pope's Cup winning goal