Old Man River

90th minute. At home. Leading by 2 goals. Hotter than Hell on a Saturday night.

Watch the run by the short 37 year old guy in the middle of the pitch:

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There's been a lot of pointless talk in these parts about whether MLS is now "a retirement league".

(Then again, that's sort of the motto of the internet, isn't it: "Lots of Pointless Talk")

Of course the topic has been tossed around for years, beginning back when the league was signing guys like Carlos Valderrama, Walter Zenga and the poster boy for "Old Euros Who Don't Give a Crap, Lothar Matthäus.

As you surely know, it came to the forefront recently with the signing of Mr. Handball Cheat by les Taureaux Rouges and the subsequent posting of a typically snotty British tabloid online poll, and lots of people continue to waste lots of time arguing about it.

I bring it up not to actually address the topic but rather to point out a simple fact, namely that there are plenty of players - foreign and domestic - in their late 20's who won't give you what the Argentine legend gave on that play. They wouldn't see the point.

By contrast, many of you will recall how Valderrama played most of the time standing in the center circle, surrounded by an invisible cone of protection rule which the referees vigorously enforced: anyone who came within five feet of Carlos was instantly whistled for a foul and actually touching him was cause for a sending off and a three match suspension.

Coupled with the league rule which stated that if Valderrama had touched the ball within 45 seconds of any goal, then regardless of how many other guys subsequently had touches, even though there might have been two possession changes and a throwin in the interim, El Pibe was awarded an assist.

(While Steve Ralston miraculously managed to beat his "career assists" record - it took him almost three times as many games to do it - Valderramas' "assists per game"and "assists in one season" numbers are the most fraudulent and shameless records in MLS and may never be broken)

All of which brings us back to Barros-Schelotto, who is technically not even a DP and who did indeed come to MLS because he could no longer make the first eleven at his beloved Boca Juniors.

He isn't playing for the paycheck; he could make as much or more as a manager (he reportedly turned down the Boca job last year) simply because he wants to play.

(Which is something you'll want to remember next winter when - for the third year in a row - his agent asks the Crew for $20 million a year and the Crew responds by offering him $7.50 an hour plus tips and half the soccer bloggers in the US write lengthy posts about how cheap and nasty Hunt Sports is. He'll be playing in Columbus for a while longer, he'll be very well paid, he isn't going anywhere and none of us will know for sure how the hell much he actually makes.)

Point being that "retirement" isn't the issue. For all the guff he's taken, Beckham didn't come here to loaf around the pitch drawing a paycheck either. You can't watch the man play for very long (well, OK, so you can't watch him play at all, period, but you know what I mean) for the Gals without recognizing that his real motivation is that he wants to play the game.

The problem isn't finding old players who're willing to come to the US for money. ather, the real problem is finding veteran players who have been to the mountaintop of world football and have never figured out how to halfass the game.

If you can figure out how to recognize this in a player, let the rest of us know.