In Tyrone Mears’ eight months with Minnesota United, the right back has brought experience, quiet leadership, maturity and a veteran mentality to the Loons.
It was a short time but still valuable and useful to the club, according to director of player personnel Amos Magee.
The club announced Monday it had mutually agreed to terminate the right back’s contract to facilitate a move back to his native England.
United had picked the 35-year-old in the MLS re-entry draft in December. Mears played in 11 games with 10 starts this season, including scoring the only goal the Loons have ever managed at rival Sporting Kansas City.
Mears had dealt with a calf injury this year that kept him out of several games. He most recently played Aug. 18. A team spokesman said Mears had a slight injury Wednesday when he wasn’t practicing with the team. Coach Adrian Heath then said Thursday Mears would not play this past Saturday in the game at Kansas City.
“We thank Tyrone for his service to the club and the community,” Heath said in a news release from the team. “We felt this was the right move for Tye at this time, to go back home and be closer to his family and play his football in the Championship in England. We wish him well.”
Mears started his career in 2001 and has played for several top English teams. Since coming to MLS with the Seattle Sounders in 2015, he’s been apart from his four kids, all under the age of about 13, as well as his wife. He won a Cup with the Sounders in 2016 before playing for Atlanta United FC in 2017.
That’s where he met current United teammate midfielder Harrison Heath, Adrian Heath’s son. The two became fast friends there as two England natives. Both were back in England in December when they found out they’d both be heading to Minnesota.
Magee said Mears approached the club about a month ago with the idea that he’d like to go back home, if the club could swing it. Harrison Heath said Mears found out officially late last week and is already back in England, preparing to play for a team in the second-tier of English football.
“It was definitely not a case of them getting rid of him or anything like that,” Harrison Heath said. “It was just something that they felt, at Tye’s age and stage in his career, it was not something that they could sort of stand in the way of going back into such a big club in the Championship that’s looking to build back up to the Premier League. It’s something that I think is an incredible opportunity for Tye. I know speaking to him, it’s something that he never thought would sort of happen again to him.”
Magee said at Mears’ age, no club would pay a transfer fee for him. Mears was hoping for a contract termination so he could quickly sign with a new club as an out-of-contract player and start playing immediately, as the Championship season is already underway. While the Loons didn’t make the move for financial reasons, Magee said, it does provide a bit of salary cap relief for the rest of the year. Mears was making $194,256 this season, according to the MLS Players Association.
“We’re in the position with Marc Burch and [Jerome Thiesson] getting healthy that we felt like we had some cover. And the [3-5-2] system that we were playing didn’t particularly suit him,” Magee said. “He’s been a really good professional, and we want to be a club that looks after players’ best interests if we possibly can.
“It was a humanitarian move that we could afford to do, and we definitely wanted to.”
Note: Magee confirmed the club also had placed midfielder Sam Cronin on the season-ending injury list because of concussion issues that have sidelined him for the entire year. Midfielders Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay are also on the list after ACL tears early this season. That means with Mears’ departure, there should be two open spots on the senior roster as well as one spot on the reserve roster. … New midfielder Fernando Bob is also taking the international roster spot of Bertrand Owundi Eko’o, who went on loan to a USL team for the rest of the season earlier this month.