June 22, 2010 - South Africa - Football - France v South Africa FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 - Group A - Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa - 22/6/10..France's Thierry Henry looks dejected after failing to qualify for the second round.

One of the more disappointing moments in my Wednesday was learning, simultaneously through my usual scans and Tom Dunmore on Twitter, that that the Guardian posted a misguided poll which attracted a majority of misguided responses.

Big names attract attention, I know, but a handful 30+ stars signing in Major League Soccer does not make a "retirement league." As Tom points out in his followup, the average age of the league is probably around 27 (I don't have the hard number either), MLS is more a stepping stone than a cushy rest home, and almost all of the stars landing here for their "retirement" made/would have made their country's World Cup team. Since it's Henry that prompted the discussion, let's focus on him; sure, France bombed in South Africa, but it's difficult to imagine that one of the world's former best who was with Les Bleus this summer is suddenly over-the-hill in such a way as to be a joke. Henry picked MLS for many reasons, but let's not pretend he couldn't be back in the Premier League if he wanted to be.

The Guardian has more pull than it should on American shores, a fact I recognize even as I find myself landing there on a daily basis. Their coverage of the Premier League and other Euro competitions is usually excellent; as soccer junkies, it's hard to conceive that they might get their American coverage, such as it is, completely wrong. For a lot of us, the Guardian is the outlet of record for soccer/football; simply by asking the question, they seem to be ascribing to the "retirement league" theory. To say that's a little disappointing is an understatement.

"Thierry Henry Won't Save Soccer in America" is perhaps the most ridiculous headline to come out of the Frenchman's signing. No, he won't, but only because soccer in America doesn't need saving. Again, it's the "retirement league" sentiment, although dressed up as "twilight league" (which sounds like some odd competition for tweens pretending to be werewolves and vampires), with poorly drawn conclusions based on zero understanding of MLS and why it's nothing like the NASL in the most important ways.

It's easy to fall into a hyperbolic trap with Henry's arrival. Because the ability to avoid absolutes has been lost by most of society, and soccer people are understandably excited, the inevitable response from MLS haters is that Henry's signing is nothing more than an dog and pony show involving a washed-up player who might succeed here, but only because the league is a joke. There's no winning with people who are already entrenched in the anti-MLS mindset.

For some people, the facts don't matter. What we have here is a retirement league.
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