Friday, August 14, 2009

Oldest MLS Player Timeline

One of the very first posts I ever made on this blog was the Youngest MLS Player Timeline. Now, it's time to look at the other side of the equation. Who has held the record for the oldest MLS player of all time at each point in the league's history, and when has it been broken?

This is not the same as the lists of the Oldest MLS Players or the Oldest MLS Debuts. Only regular season games are counted.

MLS Oldest Player Record Holders

Date Set Age Days
1 Thor Lee 1996-04-06 30.84 7
2 Carlos Valderrama 1996-04-13 34.61 28
3 Chris Woods 1996-05-11 36.49 7
4 Hugo Sanchez 1996-05-18 37.85 672
5 Thomas Ravelli 1998-03-21 38.60 452
6 Walter Zenga 1999-06-16 39.13 423
7 Lothar Matthaus 2000-08-12 39.39 238
8 Carlos Valderrama 2001-04-07 39.59 1,229
9 Preki 2004-08-18 41.15 2,018
Pat Onstad

The age is only for the date that it was set. Days refers to the number of days the player held the record.

1) Thor Lee, DC United - 30.84 years old

Ex-indoor player famously waived after only two games in the inaugural season. Also the only American-born player to hold this record. Michael Emenalo of the San Jose Clash was the only other over-30 player in the opening game. Victor Mella was the youngest player that day.

2) Carlos Valderrama, Tampa Bay Mutiny - 34.61

No explanation necessary. Who would've thought he would play until 2002? Anyway, one week after the debut of MLS, he stepped onto the field and took the record. He would only hold it for a month, however...

3) Chris Woods, Colorado Rapids - 36.49

The former England goalkeeper who was the backup to Peter Shilton at the 1990 World Cup, and part of a disastrous opening season for the Colorado Rapids who finished dead last in the standings. I guess you could say they were the first record holders of the 'worst team ever' title.

4) Hugo Sanchez, Dallas Burn - 37.85

The Mexican legend took the field a week after Woods, scoring on his debut. It's still the fourth oldest debut in league history, and he held the title of oldest player until 1998.

5) Thomas Ravelli, Tampa Bay Mutiny - 38.60

The legendary Swedish goalkeeper and third oldest MLS debut.

6) Walter Zenga, New England Revolution - 39.13

On June 13th, 1999, he tied Ravelli exactly at 14,290 days before passing him a week later. It's also the first time on this list that the new record wasn't set with a debut. Zenga played in 1997, then came back as a player coach in 1999 and set the record midway through the year.

7) Lothar Matthaus, Metrostars - 39.39

He set the record on the first game back from his little summer vacation. I hate to see his name mentioned in any MLS record discussion, but I will admit I'm enjoying the way his coaching career has fallen apart everywhere he's gone.

8) Carlos Valderrama, Tampa Bay Mutiny - 39.59

This was the first game of the 2001 season. Five years later, El Pibe reclaims the record. This time, he held it for over three years.

9) Preki, Kansas City Wizards - 41.15

This was his first game of the 2004 season after missing the first half with an injury. He would only play one more regular season game before being shut down. It was all downhill for his playing career after the second MVP season in 2003, as his final season in 2005 was pretty uneventful.

We're coming up on the five year anniversary of this record being set.

Currently, Preki holds the record for oldest MLS player at 42.31 years. As of this past weekend, Pat Onstad was 41.57 years old. If Onstad is still playing next year, he'll break the record sometime next May. Likely date? Saturday, May 8th, 2010.

10) Pat Onstad, Houston Dynamo - 42.32

It turns out that date was right on target. Unless Kasey Keller keeps playing, then this reign could last as long as Preki's or even longer.

Labels: , , ,

Comments on "Oldest MLS Player Timeline"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:28 AM, August 14, 2009) : 

Interesting post. Hopefully the league can get away from being a retirement community for players from overseas but it is helpful to have an experienced player that can come off the bench that has seen it all r in goal like Onstad or Keller.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:58 AM, August 14, 2009) : 

Hey scaryice,

Love the blog. I had a couple of ideas about future posts that you might have the data and time to look in to, if you're interested.
First, after reading your red card posts recently, I wondered if fouls committed tend to decrease after a card has been issued. I don't know if you have the data to look at that, but it would be interesting to see the effect of a card (yellow or red) on how aggressive the players are after that.

Second, I think it would be interesting to look at average goal differential by week in the season. That is, take the average number of goals that the winning team wins by for each week in each season. You might find some interesting things. For instance, are games early in the season more lop-sided affairs, since opposing teams are not as familiar with each other and may not know how to defend a particular team? Do teams tend to give up earlier in a game during the hottest part of the summer, and thus lose by more?

Just some thoughts. Thanks for the site!


Blogger Marmaduke said ... (2:47 PM, August 14, 2009) : 

Goods stuff! I'd be interested in seeing this for the oldest active player, too.


Blogger scaryice said ... (5:08 AM, August 18, 2009) : 


Oldest active player? Well, let's see. Sanchez and Woods left after 1996, so it would be Zenga for 1997. Ravelli for 1998, Zenga for 1999, Matthaus for 2000, then Valderrama and Preki. Since 2006, it's been Onstad.

So not much change, other than Zenga and Onstad.


No, I don't have the data to know what time falls were called.

Looking at how things change based on the calendar date is a pretty interesting idea. I might have to spend some time on that in the future.

I did look at something similar recently in response to somebody on Bigsoccer. Turns out there were slightly more draws in the second half of last season compared to the first (although that probably won't be the case again):


Anonymous pay per head service said ... (4:29 PM, January 26, 2013) : 

I didn't expect that someone can play with 42 years old. I think that it is quite impressive and it brings a lot of experience to the team.


post a comment