Seemed pretty obvious really. He had flirted with it before. And despite taking a sabbatical that included missing some national team friendlies, I think it was being part of the national team that kept him going. He’s been a very good club player – only players like Carlos Valderrama have been better in MLS – but it was as a member of the United States Men’s National Team that he made his mark. I would say that he is the best and most skillful outfield player to have ever played for the team (#2 was Tab Ramos, who was held back by struggles with injury).
When he was left off the World Cup squad in favor of players who were slower, less talented and who, being over thirty, were clearly not players for the future, it is easy to see how he could ask: Why go on? There is nothing left for him to accomplish anymore in the league and he was pigheadedly denied a final World Cup (where, as the most clinical finisher in US history, he would have been expected to add to his five World Cup goals, including burying a shot against Belgium). Now’s the right time and would have been, even if he had gone to the World Cup for fourth time. Just would have been nice to see him don the US jersey one last time.