By DAN KARELL
D.C. United defender Robbie Russell isn’t your average professional athlete.
The 33-year-old Duke graduate is retiring from professional soccer on Sunday after his side’s match against Sporting Kansas City to pursue a medical degree. Russell is planning on staying in the D.C. area to start a pre-med program Georgetown University’s Medical School.
“Robbie has had a wonderful career, and we as an organization were lucky to play a small part in it,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen on D.C. United’s club website. “He has helped mold our young players and has left, in a short time, a big imprint on this club.”
Following four years at Duke and receiving a degree in sociology in 2000, Russell played in Iceland, Norway, and Denmark before returning home to the U.S. to play with Real Salt Lake in 2008, where his penalty kick goal in the 2009 MLS Cup Final won his side the championship. He was traded to D.C. United before the 2012 season.
Russell has appeared in just one match this season, coming on as a substitute in the 84th minute in a 3-2 defeat to the Philadelphia Union. Last season, Russell featured 19 times including 16 starts for Ben Olsen’s side. He assisted on Nick DeLeon’s goal against the Red Bulls in last year’s playoffs to earn D.C. United a place in the Eastern Conference finals.