Manchester United's Michael Owen celebrates after scoring during their English Premier League soccer match against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton, northern England, September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)

The difference between paper mache models of human legs and the actual legs of Michael Owen is a matter of durability.  The former are slightly more so.  They are legs only another Owen (perhaps one whose family name begins with "Ha" and ends with "rgreaves") could envy.

Playing time has been hard to come by for Owen, in part because contributing on the field requires legs that work; Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, a knowledgeable football man who understands how important working legs are to a player's form, has understandably dropped the striker.  Owen's contract expires ("runs out" seems ill-fitting phrasing) at the end of the season, leaving speculation open as to what he might do next.

The leading options at the moment, per the rumor-riffic Internet scuttlebutt machine are a) retirement or b) Major League Soccer.

And why not MLS?  It's where all the famous European footballers of a certain age threaten to go, in that same way young boys will threaten to run away whenever scolded, when their choices are minimal and the money is wanting.  Who will pay Michael Owen to layabout on a training table if not MLS?  The American league is always desperate for star power and will provide a more than a comfortable wage for any player with a modicum of European success; if Owen wants a fresh start in a place where the condition of his groin and hamstrings goes unnoticed by all but a few strange American soccer nutters, MLS is the place to be.

It's the Island of Misfit Toys, where a comfortable life is provided to footballers no longer wanted by anyone important.  Send us your old, your broken, your barely mobile.  We'll find homes for them in places like Chicago or Texas, places where obvious shortcomings can be offset by having a famous name.  We'll slap their image on a billboard and their name on the back of a jersey, and it will hardly matter if they play.  Much of the public won't know who they are, but the soccer fans will, and even if those fans would prefer a model that works, it's fine; they're just happy to finally have a toy with a name on the tag they can recognize.

Have no fear, European misfits. Our own balding King Moonracer is a benevolent ruler, and a generous soul. As he oversees the MLS island from his hilltop castle in the Big Apple, he ponders which misfits most need his help; be you old or wounded, disappointing, ineffective, or just in need of a place to attend basketball games and collect a salary commensurate with your ego, he will find you. If there is room on the island, he will take you in.

There's the run down French striker, the under-performing Mexican captain, the unfit Mexican malcontent, the Spanish outcast, the Canadian mop-top formerly of Spain...why can't there be room for an Englishman with broken wheels?

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