Against Orlando City on May 12th Jeff Larentowicz became just the third field player (5th overall) in MLS history to make 400 regular season appearances. Ten games later, against Houston on July 17th, he passed the now-retired Chad Marshall to take second place. He finished the season at 418 games, leaving him a mere 70 appearances behind the even more durable Kyle Beckerman.
Position: Central Midfield
Games Played: 37 (22 starts)
What went right this season?
This season Jeff showed us that you can teach an old dog new tricks, slipping into Frank de Boer’s various systems with the ease and professionalism of a veteran who knows his business. Flexibility was a key component of the team as a whole, of course, but it applied to Jeff’s position in particular, as it saw him switching between midfield and defensive responsibilities - and often a combination of the two - in mid-game on a regular basis. He did so largely on an error-free basis.
What does he need to improve on?
Well, his scoring average with Atlanta United took a minor hit, as he scored 1 less goal this season than he has to date.
That aside, while he is clearly still proving adaptable, there is at this stage in his career little room for him to upgrade his individual skills. Indeed, the reverse may be the greater issue: can he hold off the inexorable advance of time and entropy another year or two? Only the painting in his attic knows the answer to that question.
What role will he play in 2020?
Perhaps more accurately, where will he play a role in 2020? Jeff is a free agent again, and will have some options. Rumors are that the Colorado Rapids (where he played 2010-12) are interested in him, and there could be other suitors. Resigning him should be a priority, given that the retirement of Michael Parkhurst leaves the team relatively short on veteran savvy. Should Atlanta retain him, he will doubtless play a similar defensive midfield/centerback role, and likely wear the captain’s armband on a regular basis.
Overall player grade: