Carlos Manuel Bocanegra (born May 25, 1979) is a retired American professional soccer player. A two-time MLS Defender of the Year, Bocanegra also played professionally in England, Scotland, France, and Spain. He earned over 100 caps with the United States, serving as captain for six years. He currently is serving as Technical Director and Vice President for Atlanta United FC.
Early life and education
Bocanegra was born in Upland, California on May 25, 1979, to Manuel and Kelly Bocanegra and raised in Alta Loma, Rancho Cucamonga, California, where he attended Alta Loma High School. He has one brother, Diego, who played soccer at Grand Canyon College and attended UCLA in 1995–96. His father is of Mexican descent. While attending UCLA, Bocanegra studied history and geography. Prior to attending UCLA, Bocanegra was offered scholarships for American football but opted for soccer, which he thought of choosing as his career. He was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
After playing college soccer at UCLA, Bocanegra signed a Project-40 contract with Major League Soccer and was drafted by the Chicago Fire with the fourth overall pick in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft. He spent most of the year with the Fire, playing two games on loan with Project 40. He proceeded to win the MLS Rookie of the Year Award for a team that made it to the MLS Championship match and won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. He became one of the top defenders in MLS, becoming the first player to win the MLS Defender of the Year Award twice, in 2002 and 2003. Bocanegra scored five goals and had eight assists in his four years in MLS.
Bocanegra playing with Fulham
Bocanegra was signed by Fulham in January 2004, quickly becoming a fan favorite, garnering the nicknames the Jackal and the Black Snake. With Fulham, Bocanegra played primarily as a center back, but also as a left back and briefly as a holding midfielder. During the 2006–07 Premier League season, he was Fulham's second leading scorer with five goals, behind fellow American Brian McBride. On September 1, 2007, Bocanegra captained Fulham for the first time in a Premier League match, a come from behind 3–3 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. On September 15, 2007, he made his 100th appearance in the Premier League, all for Fulham, against Wigan Athletic. He was released by Fulham on May 23, 2008.
Bocanegra was signed by Rennes in June 2008. He received the number 3 shirt, which is his number for the United States. Bocanegra performed well in his first season in France, appearing in all 38 league matches. He scored his first league goal on March 8, 2009, in Stade Rennais's 2–0 victory over Auxerre. He also scored a goal in a UEFA Cup match and started all the club's Coupe de France matches. These included the 2009 Coupe de France Final at the Stade de France on May 9, 2009, where he scored Stade Rennais' first goal against Guingamp, in the 69th minute.
On July 16, 2010, Bocanegra was purchased by fellow Ligue 1 club Saint-Étienne for a reported fee of £400,000. He wore the number three shirt, as he did captaining the U.S. during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Bocanegra made his debut for the club, on the opening game of the season, in a 3-1 loss against PSG. On December 5, 2010, he scored his first goal for the club, in a 2-2 draw against Bordeaux; followed up his second goal in the Derby du Rhône, but couldn't helped Saint-Étienne a win, as they lost 4-1. Bocanegra would be often used in first team ins and out in his first season. In a match against Nice, on October 17, 2010, Bocanegra suffered whiplash injury, that kept him out for three weeks.
In the 2011-12 season, Bocanegra took the captaincy temporarily following Loïc Perrin absent, on the opening game of the season, as Saint-Étienne win 2-1 against Bordeaux. This turned out to be his only appearance. He was linked with a move to Rangers, but was warned by Saint-Étienne that there are not to sell him.
On August 17, 2011 Bocanegra joined Scottish Premier League side Rangers, signing a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee. Bocanegra made his debut for Rangers against NK Maribor on August 18, 2011 in a UEFA Europa League qualifier. His involvement in this match later caused controversy when Maribor filed a complaint to UEFA regarding the eligibility of Bocanegra's appearance, questioning whether he had the required clearance and paperwork. The protest was rejected by UEFA on August 24 as Maribor did not submit it within twenty-four hours of the match. The club's chief later described the complaint by Maribor regarding Bocanegra's eligibility as 'pathetic mischief making'. He scored his first goal for Rangers in the second leg of the Maribor tie as Rangers crashed out 3–2 on aggregate.
Bocanegra scored his first league goal for the club on the 24th of September against Dunfermline Athletic in a 4–0 win. His second goal came three months later, on December 17, 2011, during a 2-1 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Bocanegra quickly became a fan favorite after a series of solid and impressive performances alongside his center-back partner, Dorin Goian. He was nicknamed Captain America by the Rangers fans and captained Rangers for the first time on January 8, 2012, during a 4–0 win over Arbroath in the Scottish Cup.
During the season, Rangers went into administration over financial problems and a dispute with HMRC, leading to a 10-point deduction. Bocanegra spoke about the event, describing it as a "horrible experience" and encouraging players to light up the dejected fans. He also stated his desire to stay at the club, insisting he was happy there. During an "Old Firm" 3-2 victory, on March 25, 2012, Bocanegra received a straight red card after fouling Georgios Samaras, conceding a penalty.
After the company which then ran Rangers FC went into liquidation in June 2012 the company's assets, including the players' contracts, were purchased by Charles Green's consortium. Although many players departed because of this, Bocanegra's future was uncertain after not attending training, as he wanted to leave in order to play at a higher level. A few weeks later, on July 29, 2012, McCoist appointed Bocanegra captain for the first round of the Challenge Cup- a 2-1 win over Brechin City. After the game Bocanegra announced his intention to stay, vowing not to walk away from the club. He then made six appearances at the start of the season. After being dropped by the national team, Bocanegra joined Racing de Santander on a season-long loan in an attempt to keep his international career alive.
On August 31, 2012, Bocanegra joined Spanish Segunda División side Racing Santander on a season-long loan. Bocanegra expressed a desire to return to Rangers once his loan deal has expired. He made his debut for the club, on September 22, 2012, in a 1-0 win over CD Mirandés. However, his time at Santander was "disastrous", as he failed to start the remainder of the matches, though still played regularly, coming on as an substitute. The club was relegated to next division.
On April 9, 2013, Carlos announced on his Twitter page that he would return to Rangers for the 2013–14 season. Though announcing his return, U.S. National Team Manager Jürgen Klinsmann warned Carlos not to play for Rangers next season.
Bocanegra with the U.S. National Team in 2010
In the summer of 2013, Bocanegra left Rangers and signed with Chivas USA. Chivas USA traded up the allocation order with Toronto FC to land his signature, sending a first-round 2015 MLS SuperDraft pick and an international slot to the Canadian club.
Bocanegra retired at the end of the 2014 MLS season.
Bocanegra played for the United States at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship and earned his first senior cap for the U.S. on December 9, 2001, against South Korea. He became a stalwart for the team in 2003, solidifying his position during the 2003 Gold Cup and leading all defenders with thirteen appearances during that year. During World Cup qualification in 2005, his role with the national team became less clear, as he bounced between roles at center back and left back. On May 2, 2006, Bocanegra was named to the United States World Cup roster for the tournament in Germany. He started two of three games at left back during the 2006 World Cup.
Bocanegra was first-choice captain of the U.S. squad under manager Bob Bradley. Bocanegra captained the national team for the first time in a 4–1 U.S. victory in a June 2, 2007, friendly against China. Bocanegra captained the United States national team that defeated No. 1 ranked Spain to win one of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final games on June 24, 2009. He then continued his leadership duties throughout the 2010 FIFA World Cup, starting at left back against England and Slovenia and then as the left-center back against Algeria and Ghana.
On November 15, 2011, Bocanegra joined the 100 cap club achieving his 100th international cap in a friendly against Slovenia. In March 2013, Bocanegra was initially included on the preliminary team for the start of the final stage of World Cup qualification; he did not make the final team however. Bocanegra's further exclusion from qualification, in part due to his unstable club situation, led to the appointment of Clint Dempsey as captain of the USMNT. Bocanegra was subsequently not a part of the team at the 2013 Gold Cup or the 2014 World Cup.
Former Youth Teams
Former Senior Teams
Former Club Staff