In a surprising statement Wednesday afternoon, Houston Dynamo defender Eric Brunner announced his retirement from Major League Soccer. The 28-year old draws to a close a seven-year career that saw minutes in Columbus, Portland, and Houston.
Without citing a cause for retirement, Brunner issued a public statement, thanking the Dynamo organization and fans. "I learned a lot and made many great memories, relationships, and friendships," said Brunner, who joined Houston in 2013 from the Portland Timbers. "I will be rooting for the Dynamo in the future and rooting for my friends on the field." Dynamo president Chris Canetti also issued a comment of thanks to Brunner for his contributions.
Following a reduced role in the Timbers defense in 2012, Brunner was moved to Houston where he found utilization several times throughout the season, backing up Jermaine Taylor and Bobby Boswell. Into the unlikely Dynamo playoff run of 2013, Brunner was called upon to fill for an injured Taylor and played perhaps his best games in orange, particularly against Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls.
In 2014, Brunner spent much of the first half of the season recovering from a preseason ankle injury. Once he finally stepped on the field during the Dynamo's rough summer stretch, he would see just three matches before leaving in the fourth minute against Toronto FC with another injury. In all, Brunner would see the field just six times this season.
As the Dynamo begin to look to the upcoming expansion drafts and next season, the center of defense is an area of focus. Brunner may have been able to fill a role or possibly be picked up in the expansion draft, should he have gone unprotected. With Brunner's retirement, the Dynamo will now be pressed to make multiple signings to fill in coverage along the back line. With some Chivas players able to fill those slots, and a foreign scouting trip on the horizon, the Dynamo should be well-equipped to bring in fresh faces.