Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On MLS Being a Retirement Home

The European Leagues have started up again, MLS is deep into the playoff race, yet I still find myself waxing nostalgic for the 2010 World Cup. It's a wonderful period of time where it's socially acceptable to watch 3 matches a day for two weeks straight before being weened off of it throught the knockout stage whereas the rest of the time I guiltily own up to watching 4 matches when someone asks me how I spent my Saturday. Normally I can stave off my desire to be back in the summer of 2010, painfully watching the US team concede early goals, only to find some way to get the result late in the match. Today, however, I decided to revisit Bing's Visual Search for the World Cup. It's a neat little tool that lets you sort and filter the players from the tournament based on a number of different categories. Looking at the oldest players I noticed two things:
  • Old players tend to be goal keepers
  • A lot of the oldies have played or are playing in MLS

Neither of these observations are too surprising. Keepers tend to peak later in their careers so you'd expect them to be over represented at the tail end of the age spectrum. Of the 11 players that weren't keepers, 4 of them had MLS experience: Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Carlos Pavon, Simon Elliot and Blaise Nkufo. Given MLS's reputation as a retirement home for footballers, I wasn't too surprised until I noticed that Nkufo is the only one still playing in the league. If Beckham hadn't been injured, he too would have been on the list, but as a special case since he's been splitting his time between the LA Galaxy and AC Milan. If MLS is a retirement home, it certainly isn't a final resting place. It's nice to see MLS Alums moving on to different clubs and still competing with the world's best, even at the ripe old age of 35.


  1. I would be interested to know how the production of the old folks in the MLS compares to their numbers prior to coming... most of these guys don't perform is my guess... and if the MLS is a step down from their old stomping grounds in Europe... why can't them keep the numbers up?

  2. Production is a tough thing to measure and there are too few players to really get a good sense of whether their production decreases in MLS or not. I think more often than not their production doesn't live up to expectations. Two counter examples are Juan Pablo Angel and Guillermo Baros Schelotto.

    Angel's rate of scoring is better with the Red Bulls than it was with River Plate or Aston Villa. Schelotto's rate is about the same in MLS as it was with Boca Juniors.