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Swope Park Rangers’ Justin Bilyeu Retires Unexpectedly

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The 25-year-old was a surprise retiree just a few games into the 2019 season.

Thad Bell

On Wednesday a surprise announcement was made by the Swope Park Rangers. Left back Justin Bilyeu announced his retirement at just 25-years-old. Bilyeu has decided to return due to ongoing concussion issues. In 2019 he started the SPR opener out of position at center back and has been out injured since that time.

Bilyeu joined the Rangers in March of 2018. He dealt with injuries at times in 2018 and only made 12 appearances (10 starts) for 875 minutes. He was initially drafted in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft as the 18th overall pick in the first round by the New York Red Bulls. Bilyeu ultimately made four appearances for the first team, 29 appearances for RBNY II before ending the 2017 season with the Rio Grande Valley Toros of the USL.

The news is no doubt disappointing for Bilyeu and fans alike. In 2019 preseason Bilyeu was with Sporting Kansas City and looked good. He scored a beautiful free kick goal and just missed on another. He seemed like a great candidate to be a fringe first team player, especially with the injuries to Jimmy Medranda, Jaylin Lindsey and Rodney Wallace. Seth Sinovic is the only healthy natural left back on the SKC roster.

Bilyeu released a full statement through his Instagram account.

“That’s a wrap! After dealing with concussion issues for way too long, I have decided to retire from professional soccer. Ultimately my mental/physical health is way more important than continuing to play the game. I have loved the game of soccer since I first kicked a ball, and while things may have not always gone my way, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s allowed me to meet amazing people and travel to places I thought I’d never see, and for that I’m grateful! A huge thank you to the people closest for sticking by me and always being there. And thank you to everyone else for all the support!”

The team confirmed he will stay under contract with the Rangers for the remainder of 2019 and remain under the care of the Sporting Kansas City medical staff.