When the kickoff happened last weekend against Chivas USA, Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad became the oldest player to ever play in an MLS game, passing previous record-holder Preki. This, of course, provided his teammates with a perfect opportunity to give him some grief.
“He’s getting so old he is setting down some roots way down in the ground,” joked Craig Waibel. “It’s cool to play with someone who has that type of dedication to the sport. It’s impressive.”
“It’s amazing,” Brian Ching said. “Will I be playing at 42? No. Will I have the drive to play at 42? No. It shows how mentally strong he is and how he has taken care of himself through the years to still be playing at this level.”
Onstad, who should be between the pipes when Houston face Real Salt Lake on Thursday (9 pm ET, ESPN2), is proud of the accomplishment, especially in lieu of the journey he took to get here, going from teaching physical education to the old A-League and now to MLS.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be running around like Preki was at my age, but it’s a badge of honor at 42 to be able play professional soccer or any professional sport.”
As for how much longer Onstad thinks he can keep going, the Canadian keeper always reserves that decision to the end of each season, although the thought flickers after any bad performance.
“It always crosses your mind—you have a bad game and you think the end is near,” Onstad joked. “I taught physical education, I did the A-League circuit, indoor, and some time in Scotland. Have bag, will travel. It’s been an enjoyable experience. There have been days with fields a mess, no lighting, no fans and a race to the bank to cash your paycheck. It’s nice to finish my career in a growing and great league.”
While head coach Dominic Kinnear doesn’t mind talking about Onstad’s age, he believes his number one ’keeper’s performance continues to stand apart from his MLS counterparts.
“Everyone wants to [talk about] his age, but his performance should be the focus,” Kinnear said. “For any young goalkeeper, you have a great example in this league not only for a guy that has played for a good number of years, but a guy that has set a good example by how he plays and prepares himself.”
Defender Eddie Robinson agrees with his coach about Onstad’s performance and, on a personal note, hopes the ‘keeper doesn’t hang up his gloves anytime soon.
“I sure hope he doesn’t,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling having him back there. There’s an extra confidence knowing I may make a mistake and he can bail me out.”
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.