Left-footed defensive players with a propensity for joining the attack are a rare commodity in Major League Soccer, but the New England Revolution had one of those in Chris Tierney for the better part of 10 years.
But Tierney, who announced his retirement on Thursday during a special ceremony and press conference at Gillette Stadium, became a source of stability for the Revolution despite arriving via an unlikely path.
He joined the team in 2008 after impressing in an open tryout and getting selected in the first round of the Supplemental Draft – today’s equivalent of the Superdraft’s fifth round. Even former Revolution assistant coach Paul Mariner, who was also Tierney’s youth coach with the Boston Bolts, admitted Thursday that he expected his former pupil to be a back-up defensive player.
Tierney credits a number of his former teammates for showing him the way to being a successful professional player. He clearly took their advice to heart, as he ends his career with the fourth-most playing time in Revolution history.
“Jay Heaps, when I was a player, really took me under his wing, Steve Ralston, Jeff Larentowicz who’s still playing, Matt Reis, has been great and I remain close friends with to this day,” Tierney said. “A lot of those legends of this club are guys that I’ll keep in touch with forever.”
Another one of Tierney’s close friends and mentors is Taylor Twellman, the Revolution’s all-time leading scorer, who played alongside Tierney for three seasons before retiring.
Twellman, plus a number of Tierney’s aforementioned role models wished their former teammate well in a video compilation than ran during his retirement ceremony on Thursday.
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) November 15, 2018
In 2008, Tierney and Twellman converted penalty kicks during a shootout victory over the Houston Dynamo, winning the Superliga, a now-defunct tournament featuring Mexican and American clubs.
“He took a liking to me right away,” Tierney said of Twellman. “I think mostly because he saw I was going to cross the ball to him every time I got it.”
Tierney added, “He’s been great with me over the course of my career, really taken me on as a mentor. He’s given me advice on my many different facets, not just in soccer but in life. He’s been a great friend of mine and I really appreciate him.”
Like Twellman, Tierney has also scored in an MLS Cup – and gone on to lose. Tierney’s equalizer in a 2-1 extra time loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2014 final helped put him on the map as one of the best left-footed players in the league, but served as a temporary moment of bliss on a day that forever will live in anguish New England’s fans.
“That moment is pretty much wiped out of my memory because we lost,” Tierney said.
“We were right there. 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.”