Out Of His Hands

At just 30 years old, Terry Boss was forced to retire after repeated concussions.

For over a month, Terry Boss was not himself.

He was cranky.  He was irritable.  Not to mention he was nauseas and had frequent headaches.

It had been 35 days since Boss suffered a concussion in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match between his Puerto Rico side and St. Kitts and Nevis, yet the symptoms of his second concussion of the year had not faded in the least.

He feared that it may mean the end of his professional soccer career and earlier this month, those fears were realized.  Boss met with some of the foremost concussion experts, including Dr. Stan Herring, who serves as team physician for the Seahawks and Mariners and is a consultant to the UW Sports Medicine Center.  They all told him the same thing.

“You have to retire.”

“I wanted to keep playing.  I’m not ready to give it up,” Boss said this week.  “But I met with the doctors and they were straight forward.  To some degree I was frustrated to hear that because the doctor took that decision out of my hands, but at the same time, he made that decision for me.”

In his Major League Soccer career, he made just one appearance, coming on to relieve Kasey Keller after Keller suffered an injury against FC Dallas in 2010.  He allowed one goal in the second half in a 2-2 draw with Dallas, allowing the only goal off a questionably awarded penalty.

However, he made his best impressions with some strong performances in the US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.

That is where the countless hours of work with starting goalkeeper Kasey Keller and goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra paid off, resulting in three shutouts in eight matches in Open Cup and Champions League play while posting a 1.00 GAA.  His best performance came in an historic 1-0 win over Monterrey in the 2011-2012 CONCACAF Champions League group stage.

Boss was in net when the Sounders met Monterrey in 2010 at Estadio Tecnologico, taking a 2-0 lead only to see it all slip away in a 3-2 defeat.

This time around, Seattle got a first-half goal from Alvaro Fernandez and held on for dear life, escaping with a 1-0 victory, marking just the second time that an American club had won in Mexico.

“That game was really important to me,” Boss said.  “As soon as I saw that we were going to play them again, it meant a lot to me.  I wanted to go down there and get the result.  It was such a great group effort and it was a good moment for us.”

Perhaps fittingly, it was his last match as a Sounder.

Ten days later, he would suffer the concussion that would end his career.

And while there is never a good time to suffer a career-ending injury, Boss’ came at a particularly difficult time.  With Keller retiring, Boss was in line to compete for the starting role with the Sounders in 2012.  Using the teachings of Dutra and Keller, he relished the potential opportunity to battle for playing time.

“The timing was tough.  I wanted that time to compete.  But I focus on the good things that happened while I was there,” he said.  “Those cool, rainy mornings out there working together are going to be the things I miss the most.  Kasey really coached me up and did such a great job making me a better all-around goalkeeper.  And with Tommy, he was the first one on the field and we were always the last to leave.  I was put in a great situation to be successful and grow and a lot of it has to do with those two guys.”

Instead, Boss was left leaning on his undying faith and support from his wife and family as his career – and well-being – hung in the balance.

“My family, my wife - their support through that and their trust that it was going to get better.  Their support was huge,” he said.  “My faith was first.  I trust that God has a good plan and even though I don’t know what it is right now, I’m just waiting for that better day.”

Despite the abrupt end, Boss looks fondly on his time in Seattle, which began in 2009 when he joined the club in June after an injury sidelined Chris Eylander.  In all, he made nine appearances, across all competitions.

“I can’t say enough good things about my time in Seattle,” he said.  “From the organization to the fans, to my teammates, to the coaching staff - I had a great connection with all of them.  It’s pretty rare to be in a place where you have those connections.”

Boss, 30, hopes to stay involved in soccer and is considering getting into coaching.  This week, he is working on his USSF “B” Coaching License in California.

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