Carlos Mendes began his pro soccer career in 2002. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)

NEW YORK – The Cosmos announced Saturday that defender and team Captain, Carlos Mendes, plans to retire as a player at the end of the North American Soccer League season in November.

Mendes, 36, was the first player signed by the modern Era Cosmos on December 2012 and has anchored the New York back line while captaining the club ever since.

“I have been very fortunate to have enjoyed a 15-year career playing professional soccer, but after much thought and consideration, I have come to the decision that I will be retiring after this 2017 season,” Mendes said in a statement. “My primary focus right now is to continue my work on the field with my teammates to try and help the club win another championship.”

In 107 appearances for the Cosmos since the 2013 reboot season, Mendes has recorded four goals and two assists, while becoming the first player in the club’s Modern Era to reach 100 games played (2016). He has been named in the NASL’s best XI in each of the past three seasons.

Mendes has started and played the full game in every Cosmos post-season match, leading New York to three NASL Championships in four seasons.

“Carlos was not only the first player the Cosmos signed back in 2013, but also our first Captain and one of our most storied leaders,” Cosmos head coach and sporting director Giovanni Savarese said in a press release. “He has helped the club accomplish many Championships and will forever remain in the hearts and minds of Cosmos players and fans the world.”

Born in Mineola, N.Y., Mendes was inducted into the Long Island Soccer Football League’s inaugural Hall of Fame class on November 22, 2016.

Prior to joining the Cosmos, Mendes spent eight seasons in Major League Soccer, including six with the New York MetroStars/Red Bulls. He then played for the Columbus Crew in 2012, before heading back to New York to join the Cosmos. He ranks second on the MetroStars/Red Bulls’ all-time games played list with 146. He started his professional soccer career with the Long Island Rough Riders in 2002, where he made ten appearances before moving on to the Rochester Rhinos.