I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
-- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (T.S. Eliot)
Welcome to the third annual edition of our update on MLS' potential grandparents. In our 2012 update MLS had 25 players 35 or older (of whom 8 were keepers). In 2013, that dropped to 22, and we wondered whether this might be a trend away from MLS being known as a retirement destination for older European players. Well, this year there are only 15 players who were still alive when Blondie's Heart of Glass was still topping the charts, so that seems to be a real trend (though apparently NYCFC didn't get the memo). At this rate, I might need to include 34-year-olds in next year's update just to fill out the numbers.
Anyway, here's the list:
Marcus Hahnemann (42) - The Sounders' backup keeper was already the oldest player in the league two years ago. Here is a gif of Marcus telling Father Time where he can stick it.
The Washington native hasn't officially announced that this was his last season between the pipes, but we'd be surprised if he gave it another season. If S2 needs a goalkeeper coach. . especially one who can intimidate young keepers into giving 110% in practice...
Marco Di Vaio (38) - The venerable Italian forward and master of the offside call has already retired, leaving the foundering Impact in October to be closer to his family in Italy. He was the last of Montreal's cadre of ancient Italians and by far the most successful, so we'll have to see if they go back to that well again.
Jon Busch (38) - San Jose's Busch is the oldest starting keeper in the league, but there are no signs that he's on the way out. He was involved in (what should be) the MLS Goal of the Year, so he's clearly still playing (and starring in reaction gifs) at a high level.
Thierry Henry (37) - Titi announced today that he's leaving the league, and he's doing it with a lot of game left in the tank. He was still pinging inch-perfect passes across the Red Bulls attack in the Eastern Conference finals, so don't be surprised if he pops up somewhere in Europe for at least one more season.
Donovan Ricketts (37) - Ricketts started 32 games for the Timbers this season and was very active behind a porous Portland defense. He always seems to be on the verge of falling apart completely, but he's still making tough saves. Don't doubt the Portland FO is aggressively working on a succession plan. Hey, what's this article in Norwegian I found?
Shalrie Joseph (36) - Yes, Shalrie is still an active player. In fact, his season isn't even over. He's on the Revolution roster. Shalrie Joseph could win an MLS Championship this season. Haha. The universe is cruel.
Frank Lampard (36) - See above about NYCFC not getting the memo about being a retirement league anymore. Lampard is technically an MLS player this year on loan to Manchester City, so he makes the list. And it's very likely he'll be the oldest field player in the league when he suits up for New York's expansion team.
Dwayne De Rosario (36) - DeRo left the dumpster fire in DC in the offseason to return to the emerging powerhouse that is Toronto FC. Then Toronto became the dumpster fire and DC was the best team in the east. Weird. He was glued to the bench (when he even made the bench) all season, but last we heard he has no plans to retire.
Peter Luccin (35) - The veteran french defensive midfielder has just been hanging around getting a couple hundred minutes a season for FC Dallas, and he continues to get a couple hundred minutes a season. I haven't seen any news about retirement, but then again journalists aren't really banging down Peter Luccin's door to get updates.
Péguy Luyindula (35) - Fellow Frenchman Luyindula, on the other hand, was very active. He was a frequent starter in the Red Bull midfield, especially toward the end of the season, and there's no indication he won't be doing it again next season.
Patrice Bernier (35) - Montreal is out of old Italians, but they've still got some old-man strength in reserve. The Quebec-born midfielder started 20 games for the Impact this season and is clear that he's not interested in retiring.
Nick Rimando (35) - It's well established that Rimando is actually a robot, so human concepts of age are meaningless to him.
Jair Benitez (35) - Benitez is still reliably holding down the defensive flank for FC Dallas, giving hope to veteran left backs everywhere (like, say, Leo Gonzalez). His playing time started to edge down this season, but not enough that I wouldn't expect him back for at least another year.
Fred (35) - The Brazilian MLS nomad had his second stint with the Union this season, but didn't see much playing time. He's on a senior minimum contract, so it wouldn't cost much to give him another year, but his days of playing regularly seem to be over.
Andy O'Brien (35) - Another veteran defender, O'Brien was a regular in the Whitecaps defense this season and is adamantly not retiring, which would make him one of the few veterans on a young 2015 Vancouver roster.
About half of this list is likely to retire or already has retired, and unless we get another influx of aged Europeans (via Montreal, no doubt) the era of players in their late 30s contributing regularly in MLS could be coming to an end.