35-year-old Thierry Henry, erstwhile Arsenal superstar and the all-time leading scorer for the French national team, casually buried this bicycle kick a few nights ago in Harrison, New Jersey, where he plays for the MLS Red Bulls.
So what's a guy who can still do THAT doing in MLS, which is an increasingly successful and popular but not quite top-tier soccer league?
There's no straight-up proxy in American sports for what aging-but-not-washed-up soccer stars do with their careers. When Chipper Jones can't be a full-time contributor to the Atlanta Braves anymore, he doesn't go to play for the minor-league team in Chattanooga. Henry is still capable of top-notch plays — like the bicycle kick or this sneaky goal during his brief return to Arsenal on "loan" last year — but is too old to be a team centerpiece at the highest level. But he can still be a centerpiece in MLS — and earn a lot of money doing it. Henry's making $3.75 million this year, which is a lot more than your typical Chattanooga Lookout. There's also a semi-philanthropic angle, in that Henry can use his fame to help spread the popularity of soccer in the U.S. Also appealing: he gets to live in one of the world's greatest cities in relative anonymity. Which is to say: if Chipper Jones could pull down $4 million a season to live in Rio, hit home runs in full stadiums, and become one of the faces of an up-and-coming game in a new country, he'd probably be on the beach right now.