Major League Soccer is a relatively new organization in the U.S., particularly when looking at other professional sports. The U.S. was awarded the privilege of hosting the 1994 FIFA World Cup, which was a great honor – however, it came with the condition that the country establish a premier division one professional soccer league. For soccer fans everywhere, this fortunately came to fruition, and the inaugural MLS season took place in 1996 with 10 clubs.
Since that first season, MLS has expanded to 22 clubs and interest in the sport is growing nationwide. While soccer isn’t supposed to be a contact sport, there are still plenty of opportunities for players to come into unhappy contact with one another, which can potentially shorten a career. However, there are plenty of MLS players who play well into their fourth decade. Let’s look through the rosters of all MLS clubs to see which players are the oldest of the “old.”
Tim Howard is the oldest MLS player at age 38, and while the amazing goalkeeper now plays for the Colorado Rapids, this American player wasn’t always part of the MLS. While he did get his start in the MLS for the MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls) in 1998 at the tender age of 18, Howard was soon snatched up by Manchester United, and after three years there, played for Everton for 10 seasons. He returned to the MLS prior to the 2016 season and has spent the last two years in Colorado.
The second oldest MLS player is Nick Rimando, also 38, who plays for Real Salt Lake. He’s spent his entire career in the MLS and is one of the most prolific goalkeepers in the game today, with 1,527 career saves — so far.
The third oldest MLS player, Vicente Sánchez, is a 37-year-old native of Uruguay, who is a forward for the Houston Dynamo. He’s also played for nine clubs outside of the MLS during his 17-year career, including Uruguay, Mexico, and Germany. As part of the MLS, he also played a few seasons for the Colorado Rapids.
Javier Morales (of FC Dallas) is also 37 years old and comes in at No. 4. And Ashley Cole of the Los Angeles Galaxy is his club’s oldest player (at 36 years old) and the fifth oldest overall, and while his professional career started in England and he played there for over a decade (it’s also where he gathered tons of accolades, including appearing in three World Cups as part of the English national team), he’s shown great effort for his MLS team.
All-Star Golden Oldies
For the 2017 season, we looked at the oldest players on the full roster of the Aug. 2 All-Star Game that took place in Chicago. The All-Star roster represented 13 MLS teams with players from 13 different countries, and among those selected, there were 16 veterans and eight newcomers.
The oldest players selected were Tim Howard (38), David Villa (35), and Kaká (35). Howard, who plays for the Colorado Rapids, earned his fourth selection to an MLS All-Star roster, and his goalkeeping skills (including a 63.9 save percentage prior to the ASG) have kept him very much in demand despite his “advanced” age. Villa, from New York City FC, was selected to his third All-Star Game after he scored 12 goals last season and earned MLS MVP honors. Kaká has plenty of accomplishments himself, including a FIFA World Player of the Year designation and has been part of the Brazilian World Cup roster several times. He now plays for Orlando City.
While the game was ultimately decided in Real Madrid’s favor via penalty kicks, it was still an exciting game for the packed house at Soldier Field.
Oldest “Vets” Per Team
Marcelo Sarvas, also 36, is the oldest MLS player for D.C. United. The midfielder’s professional career began in Brazil (his home country) and he has spent time playing for a ton of international teams, such as the Swedish club Mjallby AIF and KSP Warszawa in Poland. While in the MLS, Sarvas has won the MLS Cup twice (2012 and 2014, both with L.A. Galaxy).
David Villa, 35, is the all-time leading goalscorer in Spanish national team history, and brought his soccer prowess to the New York City FC in 2015. He was actually the first player signed by the expansion team and scored 18, 23, and 22 goals each of the three seasons he’s been with the club.
Other “oldest” MLS players aren’t quite as old, but still make the top spot when compared to their teammates. Consider Ibson Barreto da Silva (34, Minnesota United FC), Lawrence Olum (33, Portland Timbers), Federico Higuaín (33, Columbus Crew FC), and Benny Feilhaber (32, Sporting Kansas City). The youngest “oldest” player is Jonathan Spector, who at 31 plays for the Orlando City SC.
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Top 5 oldest players in MLS
- Tim Howard
- Nick Rimando
- Vicente Sánchez
- Javier Morales
- Ashley Cole