One of the longest, classiest and most prolific careers in Milwaukee professional sports is coming to a close. Michael King, who claimed virtually every team offensive record in 15 seasons as a forward for the Milwaukee Wave, is announcing his retirement from indoor soccer, effective at the end of this season. "I'm just happy to have had as long a career as I've had," King said. "I've been fortunate to have played for some very good franchises, owners and ownership groups. Even though I've had some injuries along the way, it's nothing that's forcing me to retire right now."
Only three professional athletes have played as many seasons in Milwaukee as King: Brewers legends Robin Yount (20), Jim Gantner (17) and Paul Molitor (15). During that time, King won four NPSL/MISL championships and compiled an overall record of 368-186 (.664).
"Michael King has been such a mainstay on and off the field for the Milwaukee Wave for the past 15 years," said Keith Tozer, head coach and director of soccer operations for the Wave. "This decision was very difficult for all the parties involved. We still have a lot of soccer to play this season, and we look forward to having Michael contribute on and off the field as we strive for our fifth championship."
Held in high regard for his professionalism and work ethic by teammates and rivals alike, King has been the Wave's captain ever since he arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan. At 786, he has played more indoor soccer games than anyone in the history of this distinctly American sport. King also is one of just five players in North American professional indoor soccer history to record 700 career goals, reaching the milestone on a restart against the Chicago Storm on Jan. 20, 2007.
"Clearly, Michael King has had a very distinguished playing career," said MISL Commissioner Steve Ryan. "Over the course of his 21-plus seasons, Michael has served as a uniquely positive asset to the game, his teams, and particularly the Milwaukee community. 'Lucky 13' has left his mark, not solely for the length of his service, but because of the way in which he has adapted his skills to various phases of his career. His presence and competitiveness will be missed. However, his professionalism and leadership skills will serve him extremely well in his future endeavors."
A native of London, England, King began his professional career with the Cleveland Force in 1986-87. He played two seasons there, one with the Dallas Sidekicks, three with the Cleveland Crunch and one with the Baltimore Spirit before being acquired by the Wave prior to the 1993-94 season.
That year launched a streak of 14 consecutive Wave playoff appearances that is still intact, as King entrenched himself as the Wave's top scorer with 158 points. In his fourth season, King set team records that still stand, with 72 goals and 185 points. But the Wave was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of King's first four years.
Finally in 1997-98, the Wave roared through three series with just two losses, finishing off the St. Louis Ambush 4-1 in the NPSL finals. King scored 16 goals in 11 playoff games and added five assists. Three more times, King helped lift the championship trophy. At age 42, he scored twice in the 2005 MISL Championship Series, with both games going to overtime before the Wave won.
"I've won four championships, which is something I'm very proud of," King said. "Along with that, to have made the playoffs every year I've played professional soccer except for one. I feel reflects that the contributions I've made to those teams had something to do with their success."
King came to the United States to attend Fairleigh Dickinson University, and ended his four-year career with 87 goals in 91 games. He remains fourth on the all-time NCAA Division I list for career goals.
King, 44, has appeared in 11 games for the Wave this season, with one goal and two assists. During a stint on the injured list this season, King served as the color analyst for Wave broadcasts on Time Warner Cable. He also has been a site director for Wave Summer Soccer Camps.
Each year he hosts "Shoot for a Cure", a celebrity trap shoot event in Hartford, that raises money for the Women for MACC Fund. Since 1994, this event has raised more than $870,000 to support the fight against childhood cancer.
As news of his retirement spread, accolades rolled in from players and coaches who have had the pleasure of being associated with King. His impact on the sport probably can best be summed up in the comments by Brian Loftin, formerly with the Wave and currently Chief Operating Officer of the Chicago Storm: "When you think of indoor soccer and longevity of career, Michael King is a part of a very select group. His longevity is impressive, but his performance both on and off the field is remarkable and admirable. I consider myself lucky to call him my friend and I wish him the best as he heads into this new phase of his life."
MICHAEL KING'S WAVE RECORDS
Most games: 516 (second place, Victor Nogueira, 374)
Most goals, career: 534 (second place, Greg Howes, 297)
Most points, career: 1,358 (second place, Todd Dusosky, 741)
Most points, season: 185, 1996-97
Most 3-point goals, career: 60 (second place, Joe Reiniger, 34)
Most 2-point goals, career: 387 (second place, Todd Dusosky, 168)
Most assists, career: 317 (second place, Todd Dusosky, 305)
Most playoff games, career: 61 (second place, Todd Dusosky, 55)
Most playoff goals, career: 42 (second place, Todd Dusosky, 38)
ALL-TIME INDOOR SOCCER GOAL SCORERS
Hector Marinaro, 1,223
Zoran Karic, 761
Steve Zungul, 715
Michael King, 707
ALL-TIME INDOOR SOCCER GAMES PLAYED
Michael King, 786
Victor Nogueira, 759
Daryl Doran, 756
Kim Roentved, 731
All-time records include all indoor leagues, dating to the original MISL, which began in 1978.