Eduardo Sebrango has retired as a player, but wants to stay on with the Montreal Impact.
The 39-year-old forward — who was the oldest player in Major League Soccer this season — announced Thursday he was calling it quits after 14 seasons in North American pro soccer.
”It’s hard to stop what you love to do, but I think it’s the right decision at the right moment,” said Sebrango, who got into seven games for the Impact this season but was not expected to be kept on for 2013.
The Cuba native, who also played for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Rochester Rhinos, retired in 2011 to work in the Impact’s academy but came back as a player in April that year. He signed a one-year deal in February to join Montreal for its first MLS season.
He said he has spoken to team president Joey Saputo and sporting director Nick de Santis about staying with the club in some capacity. De Santis said they are looking at keeping him on.
”It’s a possibility,” Sebrango said. ”I’m looking at other options as well, but my main goal is to stay with the organization and I hope we can work something out.”
The quick-footed Sebrango was a star player in various lower leagues before his lone MLS campaign.
He is second all-time in scoring in North American second division soccer with 104 goals in 270 games.
And he is second in all-time Impact scoring with 51 goals in 149 games behind Mauro Biello, who is now an assistant coach with the team. Sebrango was Montreal’s player of the year in 2002, when he scored 18 goals.
”He transmitted his enthusiasm to a lot of players,” said Biello. ”To see a guy who is 39 and who is in shape and focused to train every day, a lot of the young players learned from watching him.
”He’s definitely a guy who made his mark on the city. He was here when things weren’t so good and when things picked up.”
Mostly, Sebrango was about winning championships. He won five in all, two with Montreal (2004, 2009), two with the Whitecaps (2006, 2008) and one with Rochester (2000).
”To have five is something I’m proud of, but I was always on good teams, with Montreal or the Whitecaps,” he said. ”I’m proud and I feel lucky.”
A memorable moment was when Montreal reached the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League in 2008. Although the Impact ended up losing to Mexico’s Santos Laguna, Sebrango scored three goals in the home and away series, including both goals in a 2-0 victory before 55,571 fans at Olympic Stadium.
Before moving to Canada, Sebrango scored 16 goals in 24 games for Cuba’s national team. He was Cuba’s player of the year in 1997.
The Impact have finished their MLS schedule but will play friendly matches against Serie-A clubs Bologna and Fiorentina in Italy next week before breaking up for the off-season.
They announced they will open training camp Jan. 21 in Montreal and will take part for a second year in a row in the Disney Pro Classic tournament Feb. 9-23 in Orlando, Fla.