The LA Galaxy played their first match 21-years ago, earning a 2-1 win over the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. During that game, Cobi Jones scored the winner in front of a packed house of anxious fans at the Rose Bowl.
The first player allocated to the team in club history, the UCLA product was part of an elite class of Americans playing overseas who returned home to help boost the launch of Major League Soccer. And he delivered indeed.
Jones was part of L.A.’s first-ever MLS Cup in 2002, again in 2005 and a CONCACAF Champions Cup, putting through 70 goals and 91 assists along the way in more than 300 appearances. He’s the club’s all-time leader in almost every statistical category.
Jones hung up his competitive cleats and played his last game with the Galaxy on October 21, 2007. The club retired his number 13 making it the first number retired in MLS history.
Jones remains a prominent figure in the soccer community.
“It’s important to build players up from an early age, he told Omnisport. Getting young players in the squad sets up a great foundation. Kids don’t start out by being a soccer player, they start out with a variety of different sports and that starts by getting outdoors.”
The father of two boys has a long list of accolades. He’s a 2011 US Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and the CONCACAF representative for the 2010 World Cup Draw in Germany, a two-time MLS Cup winner (2002 and 2005) with a storied international career with the US Men’s National Soccer Team. From 1992- 2004, Jones played in three World Cups (1994, 1998, 2002). He amassed 164 caps along the way.
Perhaps equal to his on the field contributions is the California native’s dedication to being an ambassador to youth sports. Giving back comes through many initiatives. Jones is hands on with his newly offered Cobi Jones Elite Soccer Camp located in Norco. The staff is made up of current and former professional players, along with current and former college players and coaches.
Jones is committed to providing advice and offering a behind the scenes look from his experience as an athlete and as a coach.
After retiring, he was an assistant coach with the Galaxy in 2007 before helming the team as the interim until Bruce Arena was named the permanent. In January 2011, Jones left the Galaxy to serve as associate director of soccer with the New York Cosmos and was with the club through 2012.
On May 19-21, Jones will join Dana Altman, head coach of the University of Oregon men’s basketball team, to speak at the Sports and Leadership Summit at Rising Star Sports Ranch in Mesquite, Nev. Uniquely positioned as the region’s most comprehensive sports facility, Rising Star offers another platform for Jones to engage with coaches and athletic directors.
Jones is active with AYSO, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, AmericaSCORES, Grassroot Soccer, Cycle for Survival and the Mia Hamm Foundation.
His participation in the summit rings his experience and passion for youth sports full circle. “I’m happy to be a part of the sports summit to be among so many others passionate about sports and its impact on the youth,” Jones said.
Located on the south side of the StubHub Center in Carson sits a commemorative plaque of Cobi Jones. For good reason. Even 21-years later, the former winger and current broadcast analyst is still a Galaxy legend.