HARRISON, NJ - JUNE 10: Zak Boggs #33 (L) of the New England Revolution is congratulated by his teammate Stephen McCarthy #26 after Boggs scored a second half goal against the New York Red Bulls during the game at Red Bull Arena on June 10, 2011 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
Since this blog was founded in late 2010/early 2011, we've had a lot to say about Zak Boggs. Not all of it has been positive. However, this last time what we'd like to say is "good luck." The Revolution released this afternoon that Boggs, a third-year midfielder, has retired from soccer to accept a Fullbright Scholarship for medical sciences at Leicester University in England.
For those of you who don't know, the Fullbright Scholarship is a prestigious merit-based academic grant for international educational exchange. So, let me put it to you this way: Zak Boggs was not only athletic enough to live the dream as a pro soccer player; he's also a whole lot smarter than the rest of us.
"We want to wish Zak the best of luck as he re-enters the academic world," Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said. "Zak has had a passion for medical research his entire time with us, which he was able to balance with his playing career. But this is an outstanding opportunity for him, and one which allow him to continue his cancer research at a higher level."
Boggs scored three goals and tallied two assists in 29 appearances over a three-year career, although he hadn't made a single senior appearance this season after suffering a severe ankle injury in the offseason. Zak was a major component of Steve Nicol's side in 2011, making 20 appearances over the course of that season.
The best way to characterize Boggs as a player is to say this: the kid worked hard. No one could ever, ever question his work rate or his fitness, and Zak ran his heart out from the opening kickoff to the final whistle every time he stepped on the field.
Unfortunately, there was never a sense that his actual talent matched his effort. Boggs could strike a ball, but generally appeared to need a lot more time than he was ever going to get in order to make good decisions with it. The few times he really shone - such as his two-goal performance against Columbus, or his one assist in 2011 - were when he received the ball in space, was able to take a first touch, correct it with a second, look up, and then make a decision.
This move honestly seems like something that is the best fit for Boggs anyway. He's been doing cancer research at Children's Hospital since the Fall of 2010, and was some kind of ludicrously smart and decorated student in college. His research earned him the 2011 MLS Humanitarian of the Year award. Zak was a regular visitor to patients at Children's Hospital as well; medicine is obviously his passion, and we wish him the best in that field.
Boggs was still on the disabled list, despite getting healthy weeks ago, and thus his departure does not clear a roster spot. It does, however, mean that the open spots on the Revolution roster will most definitely be filled by either homegrown or incoming signings. The Revs still hold the top spot in this season's allocation order, and rosters freeze on September 15th.
There's no word on what type of medicine Boggs hopes to pursue, although his interest in cancers gives us a clue. Frankly, with all the energy that Zak puts into what he's doing, the laser focus and the 110% effort, cancer doesn't stand a chance in his lifetime.