MLS Veteran Opens Up About Body Shaming, Eating Disorders

Chris Seitz played professional soccer for 15 years before retiring in January. Now the MLS Cup-winning goalkeeper is opening up about his issues with body shaming and eating disorders.

Seitz won an NCAA title with Maryland, an MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake and U.S. Open Cups with both FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo. The California native made more than 100 career MLS appearances and wore the No. 1 jersey for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics. 

He’s been around. He’s won. And he’s had struggles.

In a deeply personal Twitter thread posted on Tuesday, Seitz spoke out about having dealt with weight issues his entire career, from his time as “one of the big boys” in “fat camp” at Real Salt Lake to the moment his wife finally made him take a step back and realize he might have an eating disorder. 

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The thread highlighted the struggles professional athletes face both physically and mentally and shows weight issues aren’t only a problem in the women’s game. 

For Seitz, his battles with weight began as a teenager. The Gatorade California High School Player of the Year at San Luis Obispo High School played college ball at Maryland, where he started as a freshman on the national championship-winning Terrapins. 

Being a goalkeeper is different from every other position. There isn’t as much running, and the emphasis is on quick reactions and explosive movements. At 6-4, Seitz is always going to be a large man, no matter how much or little he eats. 

That didn’t stop his size from being a problem for some of his managers, most notably Hernán Losada at D.C. United. 

Seitz joined D.C. United in 2019; Losada arrived in 2021 as head coach for Seitz’s final professional season. 

Losada was fired by D.C. United in April, in part because of results — he lost four straight before getting the boot — but also because he rubbed players and staff the wrong way

Seitz appears to be in the camp of folks who did not like Losada’s management style. 

In 2021, the day after Mother’s Day, Seitz came in early as usual when the strength coach told him the coach (Seitz doesn’t name Losada, but we can assume it’s him) was complaining about Seitz’s poor food choices. 

Why? Because Seitz had posted a love letter to his wife on Instagram for Mother’s Day featuring his family at a picnic, with some delicious-looking sub sandwiches, chips and a single soda next to his wife, Kate. 

The photo in question was two years old and didn’t even include the goalkeeper. 

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A post shared by Chris Seitz (@seitzy1)

For Seitz, this was devastating, having just lost his job as a starter.

Around this time, Seitz’s wife pointed out he hadn’t been the same lately. 

Seitz eventually saw a nutritionist, who explained all his hard work couldn’t overcome genetics. Seitz credited Kate and the nutritionist with saving him from further harming himself. 

Body shaming is nothing new in soccer. Perhaps most notably, 2021 USWNT Player of the Year Lindsey Horan nearly quit soccer over abuse from Farid Benstiti at PSG in 2012, when she was right out of high school. (Benstiti later coached OL Reign, where he was allowed to resign to get ahead of reports of verbal abuse.)

Hearing a male athlete speak out about body shaming and weight issues is rare, and it’s fortunate Seitz had a strong and healthy support network to prevent things from getting worse. 

Mental health hasn’t always been a major focus of professional athletes, especially in men’s team sports. While that’s beginning to change, having pros speak out about their own issues will only increase the speed at which a footballer’s mental and emotional wellbeing are treated with the same level of concern as their physical health.

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