Major League Soccer veteran Chris Wingert, who hails from Babylon, N.Y., learned in December that he would be returning to his native New York as an expansion draft selection by the newly formed NYCFC.
Wingert, 32, expected he might play for New York at some point in his career, but not so soon. Admittedly, he was quite content as a leader for perennial contender Real Salt Latke.
“[NYCFC] piqued my interest, but at the same time it was far away off and I was super happy the whole time with a great organization in Real Salt Lake,” Wingert told MLSSoccer.com. “I just thought we’d cross that bridge when we came to it.”
Wingert played his high school soccer at St. John the Baptist before starring at local St. John’s University where he won the Hermann Trophy, the college soccer equivalent of the Heisman.
A second round selection by the Columbus Crew of the MLS in 2004, Wingert has grown into a league veteran. He spent two seasons in Columbus, followed by two in Colorado with the Rapids and was with Real Salt Lake since 2007 before being acquired by NYCFC.
He made 204 appearances with Real and won an MLS Cup in 2009, followed by a loss in the title game to Sporting KFC in 2013.
The son of Norm Wingert, who played in the NASL and later was a school administrator in West Islip, N.Y., Wingert will get a chance to most likely finish his career at home, in the confines of Yankee Stadium, just a few train rides away from his college haunts and a Long Island Rail Road and subway stop away from his hometown.