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September 20, 2016

34 over 34: Honoring Major League Soccer's oldest players, part 1

Soccer Union
092016_union_psp Earl Gardner/Philly Soccer Page

Patrice Bernier, 36, comes in at No. 20 in our unofficial ranking of the best veterans in Major League Soccer. annually publishes a series called "24 under 24", which ranks the league's best young players.

I'd argue that 23 isn't really young, especially since we now have an 18-year-old American starting for Borussia Dortmund, but that's beside the point.

Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle says it's important to play your kids, and the Philadelphia Union are doing just that. Rookies Keegan Rosenberry and Josh Yaro will certainly be featured in "24 under 24." Fabian Herbers is now a regular starter and the club recently added Auston Trusty and Derrick Jones as the first homegrown signings since 2012.

Millennials may be the future, but the elder statesmen of Major League Soccer are still playing big roles in 2016.

Without further hesitation, here is part one of "34 over 34", which contains only about 20% satire.

34. Conor Casey

Casey hasn't done much of anything for the Crew this year, but he was surprisingly effective as a Philadelphia Union reclamation project over the past few seasons.

He scored 21 goals in 70 Union appearances, which took him from age 32 to 34. He's only played two games for the Crew in 2016, one of which featured a bogus red card against Philly.

33. Josh Saunders

The New York City goalkeeper is still going strong at age 35. Saunders might not have the best feet, and his team has shipped a ton of goals this season, but there are only about 40 players that qualify for this article, so somebody had to come in at number 33.

32. Jordan Stewart

The veteran left back fought through career-threatening injuries to get back into the San Jose lineup.

Stewart is steady, if unspectacular, and has now played 56 games for the Earthquakes after short stays with Skoda Xanthi, Notts County, Coventry City, and Millwall.

31. Julio Baptista

The "beast" has two goals in 13 appearances for Orlando City.

He's been a decent bench option for Orlando, who already have Cyle Larin and Kaka starting in the number nine and number ten spots. Baptista scored 12 goals in 36 appearances for Cruzeiro from 2013 to 2015, so I feel like he has a bit left in the tank.

30. Zach Scott

The Francesco Totti of MLS, not because of his goal-scoring prowess, but longevity and commitment to a single club.

29. Alan Gordon

Did you even realize that he's 34-years old?

28. Blas Perez

Everybody's favorite flopper, Perez is now doing his thing off the Vancouver bench.

In all seriousness, he's really put together one hell of a resume. Perez has scored for every team he's played on (16 different ones), and he's bagged 41 international goals in more than 100 appearances for the Panamanian national team.

27. Alvaro Saborio

Excellent for years with Real Salt Lake, he can still grab a goal off the bench for D.C. United.

Just like Perez, he's enjoyed a long and prosperous career for the Costa Rica national team, scoring in about 30 percent of his 105 caps.

26. Benoit Cheyrou

Still class, Cheyrou has been relegated to a peripheral role this season. He's been very good when called upon and looks like a player who spent 15 years in Ligue 1.

25. Brad Davis

The perennial all-star moved home to Kansas City after ten seasons and two titles with the Houston Dynamo.

Davis has taken a bit of a backseat with Sporting, though he's still logged more than 1,000 minutes this season. He's not going to reach double digits in assists, but he's proven to be a reliable bench option and spot starter.

24. Jack Jewsbury

Always capable when called upon, Jewsbury has been a quality utility player and glue guy for Portland since the Timbers made the jump to Major League Soccer.

He only needs two more starts this year to keep alive a streak of 11 seasons in which he has started at least 15 games. You don't see numbers like that very often.

23. Marcelo Sarvas

He was a big part of LA's 2012 championship squad. Now he's working hard in the D.C. midfield.

Sarvas looks set to eclipse 2,300 minutes for only the second time in the last five seasons. He has, however, struggled with yellow cards this year and even earned his first red card in 139 MLS matches.

22. Jamison Olave

The newly minted U.S. citizen is still a quality center back when fit.

He's dealt with a variety of injuries over the years, but returned to Real Salt Lake at age 33 and has recorded 36 starts since then.

This might be it for Olave, who turns 36 next April.

21. Victor Bernardez

He's one of the oldest center backs in MLS, but Bernardez might finish with a MLS career high in minutes played.

The Earthquakes have quietly conceded just 30 goals this season and have the second best defensive record in the league. The problem is that San Jose also has the worst offense.

20. Patrice Bernier

A savvy veteran, Bernier got back on the field after Montreal's dismissal of Frank Klopas and appointment of Mauro Biello.

Bernier can play a number of midfield roles and performed well in the 2015 playoffs, starting in all three games and scoring a pair of goals.

19. DaMarcus Beasley

Even at age 34, the long-time U.S. International is still one of the best left backs in the league.

Beasley missed a chunk of time due to knee surgery, but recently returned to the lineup to claim his 18th and 19th starts of the year.

18. Mauro Rosales

Rosales is oldest player on a very young and very good FC Dallas team. Every club needs a few veterans, and Rosales fits perfectly in Frisco.

He has three goals and two assists in 19 appearances this season. Rosales started and played 58 minutes in Dallas' 4-2 in the U.S. Open Cup final.