Juan Arango: “I feel great physically and mentally and this has been a great season for the team so I wouldn’t say I have retirement plans yet.”
This story originally was posted on BigAppleSoccer.com on Nov. 3, 2016
By Michael Lewis
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — If the Cosmos win the North American Soccer League championship, don’t expect Juan Arango to ride into the sunset off an amazing career.
He figures he still has some magic and miles left in his 36-year-old legs to be a productive soccer player.
You can look at his year’s performance in which the MVP candidate has tallied 15 goals and seven assists to be among the league leaders in both categories. He has started and played 29 out of a possible 34 regular-season matches this season, rarely lagging behind the play, but rather helping to set the pace.
Arango said that he wants to keep playing “for as long as I am able to.”
“I feel great physically and mentally and this has been a great season for the team so I wouldn’t say I have retirement plans yet,” he added.
That is not necessarily the best news for the rest of the soccer world to hear, particularly the Cosmos’ NASL foes. The Venezuelan international midfielder hasn’t made a decision, at least not publicly, whether he will return to the team next season.
“At the moment, I am focused on finishing the season strong and doing our very best to win The Championship,” he said through a translator earlier this week.
Of course, Arango has been a major reason why the Cosmos finished with the best overall record and earned the fall season crown to establish home-field advantage in the semifinals against Rayo OKC at Shuart Stadium Saturday at 7 p.m., and if they win, against the winner of the Indy Eleven-FC Edmonton encounter at Belson Stadium Sunday, Nov. 13.
In a career that has spanned 17 years, Arango has won several titles. That includes stints with Zulianos and Caracas in his native Venezuela, Monterrey, Pachuca, Pubela and Tijuana in in Liga MX in Mexico, Mallorca in La Liga in Spain, Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga in Germany and now the Cosmos in the United States.
“I’ve won many times, but also lost many others,” he said. “Winning the Championship this season would be special. So far, we have done a great job staying consistent and performing in front of our fans. We certainly hope to keep the momentum going throughout the playoffs.”
“It would mean a lot, really. This year has been very special for me because I have been able to contribute with assists, which is something I am accustomed to, but also I have been able to contribute with goals. Knowing that I played a part in achieving a new title for a historic team such as the Cosmos would be very rewarding.”
The Cosmos enter the postseason aiming for their second consecutive crown and third in four years during the modern era.
The 5-11, 168-lb. Arango is particularly proud of the act he has registered so many goals this season. He doesn’t consider himself a big-time goal-scorer. He has accrued 127 in 553 matches for his various club teams while totalling a country-record in 128 appearances for Venezuela (he has participated in Copa America six times).
“Team-wise, definitely playing attractive and consistent soccer, despite the result,” he said. “Personally, scoring these many goals in one season is something I will cherish because, as I said before, throughout my career I was never a player who scored a lot of goals.”