Chris Armas has a storied career in soccer, playing and coaching, dating back to the league’s inaugural season in 1996. Let’s take a look back at his path to the Rapids, through college in his native New York, USL League Two, MLS and the Premier League.
Adelphi University Panthers (1990-1994)
As a defensive midfielder, Armas’ career begins close to home at Adelphi University Men’s Soccer on Long Island. During his senior season, he led the Panthers in scoring with 17 points, contributing to an All-America selection. Armas also helped Adelphi to three-straight NCAA Division I Tournament appearances. Now, his two sons follow in his footsteps and represent the Adelphi crest, as well.
Puerto Rico Men’s National Team (1993-1994)
Armas first appeared on the international stage with the Puerto Rican side in 1993, competing in the 1993 Caribbean Cup. Concacaf later designated the competitions as friendlies, and the tournament was discontinued in favor of Concacaf Nations League.
USL League Two Long Island Rough Riders (1994-1995)
Before the Rough Riders competed in League Two, Armas was part of the 1994 and 1995 squads in the United States International Soccer League (USISL). Armas and the Rough Riders played their first season in 1994, with the midfielder leading the team in scoring with eight goals and four assists.
The 1995 season saw the introduction of fellow MLS legends Tony Meola, Jim Rooney, and Giovanni Savarese, who, along with Armas, propelled the team to their first Cup title.
Armas was inducted into the Rough Riders’ Hall of Fame in 2004 for his efforts those first two seasons with the club.
LA Galaxy (1996-1997)
Upon Major League Soccer’s debut season, Armas was selected as the seventh pick in the first round of the MLS Supplemental Draft in 1996, going on to feature for Galaxy for two seasons, recording four goals and six assists across 50 games. He played alongside Galaxy and MLS legends Cobi Jones and Greg Vanney in the Galaxy’s inaugural season, reaching the top of the Western Conference and contending for the first MLS Cup, where they finished as runners-up to D.C. United.
U.S. Men’s National Team (1998-2005)
Armas’ international experience continued in 1998, but this time for the United States. He made his debut in November against Australia, then went on to record 66 caps for the Stars & Stripes over the course of his international career. In 2000 he was awarded the federation’s highest accolade, Soccer Player of the Year.
The Long Island native also helped secure two Concacaf Gold Cups in 2002 and 2005.
Two different ACL tears in 2002 and 2006 sidelined the defensive midfielder from ever making an appearance in a World Cup, but his 66 showings for the U.S. forever ink Armas in the record books as the most-capped player without featuring on FIFA’s largest stage.
Chicago Fire FC (1998-2007)
In a deal with Galaxy, Armas was traded to Chicago for the club’s inaugural season in 1998, where he would rep the Fire for the remainder of his career until 2007. That first season saw him explode onto the Windy City scene, helping the team secure an MLS Cup through 31 games played in the center of the pitch.
In his 10 seasons at the Fire, Armas was named to the MLS Best XI four-consecutive times from 1998 to 2001, then returned to the leaderboard in 2003 after his ACL injury in 2002 sidelined him for the season. 2003 also saw the midfielder earn the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award.
Armas was named an MLS All-Star six times in his career with the Fire, securing the honor in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004.
His trophy case grown with Chicago includes the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which he won in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006. Armas announced his retirement from professional soccer in 2007, capping his career off with eight goals and 42 assists for the Fire in his 10 seasons there.
Chicago Fire FC Assistant Coach (2008)
Armas’ time at Chicago didn’t come to a complete close after hanging up his boots in 2007, as he returned for the 2008 season in an assistant coaching role under head coach Denis Hamlett. The Fire finished third in MLS and second in the Eastern Conference that year, seeing their season come to an end in a loss to Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Final.
Adelphi Panthers Women’s Head Coach (2011-2014)
Armas then returned to his alma mater to lead the women’s side, becoming the sixth head coach in the program’s history. Over the course of his four seasons at the helm, the alumnus led his side to three-consecutive Northeast-10 tournament berths, two NE-10 championship game appearances, and in 2013, the team’s first win in the NCAA Tournament since 2004.
Armas’ efforts in 2013 also earned him the NSCAA East Region Coach of the Year.
New York Red Bulls Assistant and Head Coach (2015-2020)
Armas joined the New York Red Bulls as an assistant coach in 2015 under decorated coach Jesse Marsch, helping guide the team to a Supporters’ Shield-winning season. He remained on Marsch’s technical staff until the head coach’s departure in July 2018, when Armas was appointed to the helm. The Red Bulls finished the season with a 12-3-3 record and its second Supporters’ Shield award in three seasons, and made a playoff run that ended with the Eastern Conference Final.
Armas is one of six league veterans to have won the Supporters’ Shield as a player and a coach.
He guided Red Bulls to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs again in 2019 before departing in 2020.
Toronto FC Head Coach (2021)
Appointed in 2021, Armas stood at Toronto’s helm during a season wrought with COVID-19 travel restrictions, taking over for former teammate Greg Vanney. He departed the club the same year.
Manchester United Assistant Coach (2021-2022)
Armas was appointed assistant coach of the storied Premier League giant in December by Ralf Rangnick, a contact made in his days at Red Bulls. In his time at Old Trafford, Armas helped organize and guide stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.
Leeds United Assistant and Co-Interim Head Coach (2023)
The MLS veteran re-joined Marsch for his second coaching stint across the pond at Leeds shortly before his old teammate was let go from the head coaching position. Armas took on a co-interim head coach role with Michael Skubala and Paco Gallardo for a short time before a new coaching regime was introduced at the Premier League side.