Ralston introduced as first AC St. Louis player

Steve Ralston (AC ST Louis) 

Steve Ralston has spent 14 years playing in Major League Soccer. He is now set to return to where his soccer career truly began.

The long-time New England Revolution midfielder was introduced on Monday as the first player signed by NASL club AC St. Louis.

"This is a day I always dreamed would happen,” said Ralston. “I think anyone who plays professional sports wants to play in their hometown. I am fortunate to get to do just that at this stage of my career.

"Obviously it is an exciting time for soccer in St. Louis since we now have our own professional team," Ralston said. "I am honored to be the first player to become a part of this new franchise.”

Ralston will serve as a player as well as assistant coach under AC St. Louis head coach Claude Anelka.

The MLS career leader in assists (135) and games played (378), Ralston left New England after eight seasons. He is recovering from ACL surgery for an injury suffered last September and has stated he could be back in action by may. One of the last remaining MLS originals (players who have been in the league since the inaugural season in 1996), Ralston will be 36 in June.

What do you think of this news? Disappointed to see Ralston leave MLS? Think this could be the first of several players to pass on MLS offers for better deals in USL?

Share your thoughts below.

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68 Responses to Ralston introduced as first AC St. Louis player

  1. Jeremy says:

    MLS’s Loss! I’m happy for Steve though. It must be a player’s dream to start something new like this in his hometown!

  2. nancy says:

    smart way to ease into retiring as a player and transitioning into coaching…Steve Nicol ought to have tapped Ralston to replace Paul Mariner…

  3. Aaron in StL says:

    About as good of a signing that you could hope for at the NASL level. People here love the local products, so this should help.

    Taylor Twellman or Brian McBride (SLU) would be pretty awesome though, just have to keep dreaming (or wait for those two to get even older).

  4. Josh D says:

    How many oldies (96′) players are left and who?

  5. Swabb says:

    Feel good story I love it.

  6. Erik V says:

    Hope to see him back in MLS when StLouis becomes the next expansion team.

  7. jamesey says:

    mcbride has to be one.
    jaime moreno as well, even though he wasnt an original?

  8. jamesey says:

    and hejduk too i think.

  9. Lorenzo says:

    Jaime Moreno and Jesse Marsch? Brian McBride was here in 96 but left and is now back, as did Tony Sanneh…

    but Marsch Moreno and Ralston were the only ALL 14 year players.

  10. Austin says:

    at what 40? wont happen…..BUT, he could be a candidate for their first manager in MLS

  11. kpugs says:

    I think this is awesome. MLS needs to get this team in the league asap.

  12. MikeD says:

    What is the story behind using Associazione Calcio St. Louis as the name? Is there a big Italian community in St. Louis?

  13. Aaron in StL says:

    It’s actually ‘Athletic Club’. There is a sizable Italian contingent (namely ‘The Hill’ area of StL), but it’s actually more to keep in line with the Athletica (WPS team owned by same group) as well as a nod to the Missouri Athletic Club which awards the Hermann Award (college soccer’s equivalent to the Heisman).

  14. Jeff says:

    Was it really a better offer, or was he just dissapointed with the Revs offer and happy to take a decent offer back home?

  15. Martin says:

    It could very easily be Athletic Club St. Louis

  16. Martin says:

    beat me to it…

  17. MikeD says:

    Oh ok. That makes more sense than using the Italian AC. ;)

  18. Jim Jimson says:

    Glad to have ya here Steve! Great pick up. I can’t wait to start going to these games at Soccer Park.

  19. attenborough says:

    Whaaat? Why?

    Also, the Fire are going to be making a surprise announcement on Wednesday. Any idea what that might be, Ives?

  20. john godfrey says:

    Awesome. Now MLS faces competition from above and below. Maybe this will encourage the Don to increase the salary cap and put a quality product on the pitch.

  21. BadWolf says:

    Excellent move by Steve. This is a perfect situation for him. It would be good to see “older” players ending there playing careers in the lower leagues, just like the rest of the world. This will be a great place for future coaches et.al. to get that experience before making the step up to MLS.
    Good Luck Steve…look for you as coach in MLS in the coming years.

  22. Doug says:

    Was anybody at this thing? Would love to know more about that kit he’s holding.

  23. B1879 says:

    I always thought Ralston looked like MCA from the Beastie Boys.

  24. BadWolf says:

    Good Name – until DC United relocate to St L.
    :))

  25. Scott says:

    heh… yeah I see it.

    And what is up with his sweater? Is it folded over several times at the bottom? Totally distracting for me.

    Good for him- way to wrap up a great career. I loved him when he was on my hometown Mutiny waaay back in the day.

  26. Lorenzo says:

    photo by who? lol

  27. Brian says:

    This is nice for Steve and feel good stuff for St. Louis, but what are you people smoking when you think it’s some sort of war when the NASL gets a hometown guy coming off a major knee injury and at the end of his career?

  28. Eric says:

    After a major knee surgery at the age of 35, it was time to retire to the lower leagues or altogether. Ralston is a classy player and was a great contributor to the American soccer landscape.

  29. Looks less like a kit and more like a team-colored t-shirt that they screened his name and number on to for the press conference. To me, it’s much too plain to be a jersey.

    In any case, I’m sad that Ralston left my Revs, but the move to St. Louis is one I had hoped he’d take, and going back home to play is a great way to wind down his playing career.

    Now to hope that the Revs and ACSL will meet n an Open Cup match.

  30. BetaMale says:

    I like it. Raises the profile of the NASL showing others that its not just about the MLS in this country.

  31. Brian says:

    Athletic Club ehh? Tell me, what other sports does Athletic Club Saint Louis have?

  32. Seriously? says:

    Haven’t there been other players in the past who passed up offers from MLS to sign for more money in the next tier down, such as with Rochester? None as high profile in this country as Ralston, but I don’t think he’s really the first player to do so.

  33. fischy says:

    I’d say you’re too easily distracted.

  34. fischy says:

    A number of draft picks have. DC United lost Jay Needham and Lyle Adams to the USL. I’m sure there have been others.

  35. Aaron in StL says:

    St. Louis Athletica (WPS). Although I can’t say that league will be around much longer.

  36. JT says:

    Looks like Ralston needs to get some sun.

  37. d-bar says:

    My thought was that the other players who signed with “lesser” leagues than MLS were usually much younger and were those who hoped to sign with “bigger” leagues and didn’t want to get tied down to long MLS contracts.

  38. Giorgio Chinaglia says:

    The Fire are going to announce that all their fans really are overweight, sausage eating comic books collectors who live in their mom’s basement.

    Oh, wait..that wouldn’t be a surprise. We already know that.

  39. Seriously? says:

    I was thinking about what you might call journeyman veteran players, ones who wouldn’t be stars in MLS but could help teams as either 10th or 11th starters, or first off the bench. They would get pretty low offers from MLS, and would instead sign for the better D2 teams. I’m sure I’ve heard such stories in years past, but I don’t know any names.

  40. davidaubudavid says:

    All they need now is pat noonan. Then this team would be so sexy it would be ridiculous.

  41. Neumannator says:

    I second that question. Better situation or better money? Although I suppose better situation = better deal.

  42. Aaron in StL says:

    Just another thing I noticed on ESPN today.. Liverpool v Everton this Saturday on ESPN2 Live at 7:45AM EST.

    About time, and a great match to see not on some Mongolian website that cuts out every 2 seconds.

  43. kar says:

    Didn’t Eric Wynalda go to Charleston Battery briefly after leaving the Fire?

  44. Jeff says:

    Yes, it has happened often. Just last season a number of MLS players like Savage and Paladini made more money in USL by dropping down. The previous year it happened with a bunch of guys also. Actually, other than the top 8-10 players, USL now NASL is always competitive in salary to MLS.

    I think what Ives must mean is that this is the first high profile player to evidently bolt MLS despite having an offer for an extension for the second division. From my vantage point it is a healthy thing. This happens all over the world, and we have too many good players to limit them to an 18 team league where half the players are foreign and their home towns are not represented.

  45. Jeff says:

    That too. I think last season Miami FC signed like 3 guys who wanted to go to Europe quickly and did not want to be tied down long term to MLS. If I am not mistaken, all three played a few games for Miami FC in USL and then were sold. Gale, Taylor and someone else.

  46. art says:

    doubt Ralston would have said yes; this was about getting back to St Louis, as well as not playing on the fake field in New England any more.

  47. Brian says:

    I’m recording that. No way in hell I’m getting up at 4:45 AM on a Saturday.

  48. art says:

    Jesse Marsh? Is he still playing? Also theoretically Tony Sanneh though again not sure about his status with LA.

  49. DirkDigital says:

    SF’s got video of Ralston announcement. The link in the post has more video.

    link to theoffsiderules.blogspot.com

  50. HM says:

    Awesome – he’ll have a blast playing in front of 2,000 fans.

  51. Socrates says:

    Yeah, SR is way too pasty for that shade of yellow, too. But questionable fashion sense aside, Ralston was a great MLS story — I think the league provided just the right playing level for him to mature and develop his game.

    He started out playing alongside Valderrama, doing all the necessary hustle and dirty work to form an effective partnership. Then he was a very solid winger for NE’s good 4-5 year run. Although he never had the speed to play at the international level, he was a very effective MLS wing.

    Finally, in the past 2 years, as his already limited mobility eroded further due to age and injury, Nicol played him more centrally and he demonstrated a real creative flair.

    He kind of came full circle, to the point where he was in a #10 role much like El Pibe — again, nowhere near the international-level skill, but good enough to be in the conversation as an MLS MVP the past few years.

    On top of that the guy was classy, tenacious, and easy to root for. Cheers to an MLS all-timer!

  52. texans says:

    hum!!! Tough one this one.

    I’m 36, recovering from a knee injury. My team may not be so inclined to pay me a high salary anymore because of my age and injury. and i get to live out my lifelong dream of playing in my hometown. and i get to learn the ropes from coach while transitioning my career over to the front office.

    Yeah. That is a tough one.

  53. TJPierce says:

    Yeah, huge step down from the 7,000 he played in front of outside of Boston.

  54. Austin says:

    Collins John?

  55. Austin says:

    off topic……but,

    i saw that a certain Fernandinho was with the Red Bulls for their La Manga tournament in Spain and came on in the 86th minute of the Stromsgodset match.

    There has been confusion on a few sites today on who this player is. Many claimed it was one of the Ukrainian League’s best player, but now talk of that is cooled and nobody has any idea on who it is.

    Does anybody know?

    there is a Fernandinho in Japan aswell and there is a possibility that it is a young talent out of Brazil as well

    Ives or anybody know?

  56. bigvic says:

    oh yeah, this signing will really bring in the droves.

  57. Eric K says:

    Yeah don’t forget that a Kraft operation understands one of the primary rules of a salary cap structured operation: do not overpay for guys on the downhill slope. Doing so kills your future. Your heart says ‘keep Ralston’; your brain says ‘don’t overpay for a 36 year old with two major injuries the past two years’. Hate to say it, but as good as he’s been, and as influential as he’s been for the Revs, those facts are a serious consideration.

  58. C-note says:

    Yeah, that’s just what we are, exactly.

  59. Mizo says:

    Great idea! Send Twellman to St. Louis! As a Revs fan, I’d transfer him for a six pack of Schlitz! (He’ll never play soccer at any kind of level again, his neck issues and cockiness got the best of him). Now, onto our team of college players… camp opened today. Poor Stevie…

  60. Shmenge says:

    The Revs are a garbage organization run by a cheapskate. The KC Royals of MLS.

    They never replaced Dempsey, Dorman, Noonan, or Parkhurst–they won’t replace Ralston with anyone nearly as good as Ralston was at 34, they certainly won’t get anyone as good as Larentowicz to play alongside Shalrie, and they’ll continue to pretend that Twellman will play a big role this year.

    The point isn’t that they got rid of Ralston–which wasn’t such a bad idea–but that they won’t replace him with anyone even close to his talent level at his peak. We’ve got proof of that from their past lack of action.

  61. Shark says:

    Class guy….glad he is doing what he wants and finishing his career on his terms….

  62. NJ Guy No Longer Stuck in DC says:

    Best of luck Steve. I wish you the best. What a classy and professional player.

  63. scott says:

    also, if you watch the movie “The Game of Their Lives” it’s based on the 1950 US world cup team. about half the players were italian immigrants who lived in st. louis. the movie was shot on “the Hill” as aaron in stl. pointed out.
    just a side note, i lived there while the movie was being filmed so that was really cool for me.

  64. Eric K says:

    Except that they spend up to the salary cap limit. Of course you TRY to replace top players, it doesn’t always work out well.

    link to mlsplayers.org

  65. Joe says:

    I cannot wait to buy the AC St Louis Kit with Ralson’s name on the back…I just wish they could come out with one quickly!

  66. attenborough says:

    I live upstairs, thank you very goddamn much.

  67. ldub says:

    just like he did with the Revs