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With some regrets, Revolution veteran Chris Tierney retires

Chris Tierney (right) scored in the MLS championship game in 2014, but the Galaxy beat the Revolution, 2-1.
Chris Tierney (right) scored in the MLS championship game in 2014, but the Galaxy beat the Revolution, 2-1.(USA Today file)

FOXBOROUGH — Only two Revolution players have won a championship with the team and also scored a goal in an MLS Cup final. Taylor Twellman, the team’s all-time leading scorer, accomplished both. Chris Tierney, who announced his retirement Thursday, equaled that feat by playing for the Revolution team that won the 2008 North American Superliga and converting the team’s only goal in the 2014 MLS Cup final.

But, like Twellman, Tierney, 32, experienced frustration as the Revolution failed to capture MLS’s biggest prize. Twellman lost in four MLS Cup finals (2002, ’05, ’06, ’07) and Tierney played in the Revolution’s fifth MLS Cup, a 2-1 extra-time loss to the Galaxy.

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“We were right there,” Tierney said. “I think the minute I scored we all thought we’ve got a good chance here, and then Teal [Bunbury] shot off the underside of the crossbar.

“You think about all the moments in your career an inch the other way it could’ve been a whole different story. We were that close, but it didn’t happen for us, which will be one of the biggest regrets of my career, obviously. But I’ll be in the stands rooting for this club when they get another shot.”

Tierney sustained an ACL injury on a noncontact play in a 1-1 draw with Atlanta United on May 30.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Tierney said of retirement. “I didn’t make a definite decision until a few months ago. I had to see how the knee rehabbed, and my hip was always an issue for me and still is.”

Tierney displayed excellent tactical sense and an accurate left foot on crosses and set pieces, justifying the judgment of Revolution coach Steve Nicol and assistant Paul Mariner, who had long been advocating for Tierney.

Tierney emerged as part of a generation of local players that included future Revolution teammates Sam Brill, Nico Colaluca, Charlie Davies, Pat Phelan, and Mike Videira. Tierney became a full-time starter in 2009 as Nicol attempted to rebuild the Revolution, then retained his starting role as Jay Heaps coached the Revolution to three postseason appearances in six seasons, and had been starting under Brad Friedel this year.

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“Reflecting back, the coolest part is I came as a kid to these games,” Tierney said. “I’ve been a fan of this club forever, and its great to see the evolution of the club from when I got here to where it is now, with our academy program and seeing all these young kids from the local area getting a chance to train with the first team. And I just imagine if I had had opportunities like that, how special that would have been to me. Keeping local connections is important.”

Tierney played in 246 regular-season matches (273 games in all competitions), third on the Revolution’s all-time list behind Shalrie Joseph (261) and Matt Reis (254). In Tierney’s first season, he was in the Revolution starting lineup as they played in the Champions Cup, reached the semifinals of the US Open Cup, and he scored in the penalty kick shootout as the Revolution defeated the Houston Dynamo in the SuperLiga final. That victory avenged losses to the Dynamo in the MLS Cup in 2006 and ’07.

Tierney, who followed the Revolution as a youngster growing up in Wellesley, believes the Revolution can compete for the MLS Cup, despite failing to advance to the playoffs the last three seasons.

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“They can certainly get back there,” Tierney said. “It was a really difficult run [in 2014] but it’s about getting that chemistry of the right players at the right point in their career together. It’s not necessarily teams that have three DPs [Designated Players] and spend $18 million on three players. It’s the teams that get the chemistry. Look at the New York Red Bulls this year. That’s the model for what a great MLS team looks like. And I think the Revolution under Brad’s leadership are going to have success, and I can see them getting back there pretty soon.”