The dreadlocks still flop around on his head and the teenage girls still shriek whenever his name is announced, but Cobi Jones is no longer the spry, energetic poster boy for American soccer, the Little Engine That Could.
He is 37 now and most days it feels as if there is no end to the uphill climb when he trudges solemnly off the practice field, usually alone, carrying his cleats in his hands.
Jones is still very much a contributor for the Galaxy, the only founding member of Major League Soccer who remains with his original team, but all the trips to the training room - where he has his own table, he jokes - and the days he sits out practice haven't eased the chronic pain in his Achilles' tendon or the torn cartilage in his hip
"My parents gave me the strength to stand up for myself. Every kid is picked on, and I obviously looked different than most people so I got a lot of (racial) comments from other kids, so I had to be strong. I've always been someone who's not too concerned about others' opinion of me."
Tonight, though, may be different.
Jones will take the field in a 27,000-seat stadium built just for soccer, the type of which didn't exist when he began his career. He'll notice all the No. 13 jerseys in the crowd, he'll listen to the crowd chant his name, and it's hard to imagine the Little Engine That Could won't look back from where he stands and enjoy the view from the top.
I know some of you guys aren't interested in real football, and think this shouldn't be posted here, but the guy has been a part of the Galaxy from 1996, appeared in 350 games, along with 164 US Men's national team games and is the only one from the first MLS Season and the only one to have stuck with one squad
"I've told everyone that I'm retiring and that's where I'm at," the last of the Galaxy originals said.
There will be those who will try to talk him out of it -- David Beckham already has said he'd like to see Jones return next season -- but at 37 and with new fields beckoning, American soccer's own icon is adamant.
"If by some weird or unbelievable circumstance I do end up coming back, it would be the shortest retirement," he said. "But I'm not extending my career. At this point, I'm retiring."
Unless the Galaxy reaches Major League Soccer's playoffs, Jones' final home game will be Thursday night at the Home Depot Center and the final match of his extraordinary career will be Sunday in Chicago, where he could share the field with -- and might steal the spotlight from -- Beckham and Fire standout Cuauhtémoc Blanco.
"Even if it turned out that we didn't make the playoffs and this was it, I could be content with that," Jones said.
Few players in the history of U.S. soccer have achieved what Jones has since he first walked out of Westlake Village Westlake High and onto the UCLA campus in 1988.
From there, the soccer road led him to the Barcelona Olympics, where he shared a name with the Games' equally popular mascot, Cobi, and on to the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups. He played a record 164 games for the U.S., appearing in 28 countries, and has played a record 349 games for the Galaxy.
He is one of only 10 original MLS players still in the league and is the only one of the 10 to spend his entire career with one team. Until Landon Donovan recently overtook him, Jones held the U.S. record for assists with 22 and also scored 15 goals for the national team. With the Galaxy, he has 76 goals and 104 assists, both team records.
Jones scored the first-ever Galaxy goal and helped Los Angeles win two MLS titles, the U.S. Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
Having played 349 games for the Galaxy, Cobi Jones is one of only 10 players remaining from the first season of the MLS, and the only one of the 10 to have spent his career with one team.
Yup, that is true because Cobi is very well liked in the US Soccer organization and a very huge icon along with being liked world wide for his contribution's along with never being accused of raping anyone, nor bitching about the front office or another 'star' player.