Although USA is not a force in world football to reckon with, they have still their own football leagues and also a major league called MLS. Some great players like Ibrahimovich and Wayne Rooney have also played some time in MLS during their footballing career. Who are the best MLS players ever?
This is the question we are going to answer in this post. Who are the
best USA Major League Soccer players of all time
? They don’t have to be foreign players who have actually played in MLS for a year or two. There are still great American players or players of foreign origin who have made a difference in the major American league.
They are indeed the best USA Major League Soccer players in history. Players like Landon Donovan who will never be forgotten. But what about the rest of the list? Who are other best MLS Players of all time?
Here comes a list of top 10 best MLS players of all time, with Landon Donovan topping the list.
Born in March 1982 in California, USA, Landon Timothy Donovan, simply known as Landon Donovan, is considered by many as the
best player in MLS history
. Maybe because he’s the most influentialMLS
player ever with a number of honors both at club and international level.
Donovan is the winner of
MLS Golden Boot
in 2008, MLS Silver Boot in 2010, and MLS Goal of the Year in 2009. He was also named in MLS Best 11 in 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 and also MLS All-time Best 11 as a midfielder - the retired American footballer played actually both as a winger and forward during his footballing career.
One interesting fact about Donovan is that he also played after his retirement in 2014 for two American clubs, namely LA Galaxy in 2016 and Leon in 2018. The great American footballer has also played for European top-tier clubs includingBayer Leverkusen
, Bayern Munich, and Everton, the latter two on loan from LA Galaxy.
Donovan actually played most of his footballing career, namely 9 years, for the American club,LA Galaxy
, and also scored the most number of goals for the club: 112 goals in 247 appearances. The 38-year-old retired American footballer has also played for USA national team from 2000 to 2014 scoring 57 goals in his 157 appearances for them which translates to almost 3 goals - exactly 2.75 – in every appearance.
One of the
best MLS players of all time
, Christopher Elliott Wondolowski, simply known as Christopher Wondolowski, was born in January 1983 in Danville, California, United States.
Wondolowski is not only the highest scorer in MLS history with 176 goals so far, but also the only American footballer who has scored more than 150 goals in the American major soccer league. That’s why he is and should be on our list of Top 10 Best MLS Players of All Time.
In fact, the 37-year-old American forward has never played outside MLS and maybe that’s why he has scored the most number of goals ever in MLS history.
And the interesting fact about him is that, despite his age, he’s still playing, though he has signed a new contract with the American top-tier club,San Jose Earthquakes
, that will see him retire in 2020.
Wondolowski has been playing for San Jose Earthquakes since 2009 and no wonder that he has scored the most number of goals for the same club: actually 155 goals in his 322 appearances so far that translates to almost one goal in every two appearances.
The American forward has also played for the USA national team from 2011 to 2016 scoring 11 goals in his 35 appearances for them (almost one goal in every three appearances). He’s also the winner of MLS Golden Boot in 2010 and 2012 and was also named in MLS Best 11 in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
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One of the football legends on our list of Top 10 Best MLS Players of All Time, Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio, simply known as Carlos Valderrama in football world, is actually a former Colombian footballer who played almost half of his footballing career for American clubs, namely from 1992 to 2002 when he retired.
Born in September 1961 (aged 58 by now) in Santa Marta, Colombia, Valderrama is not only one of the
best MLS players ever
to remember, but he is also named on the list of 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time by World Soccer magazine.
Valderrama is also on FIFA 100 list which is a list of 125 greatest living footballers chosen by the Brazilian legend, Pele, in 2004. The number 100 actually refers to 100th anniversary of FIFA foundation and not the number of players on the list.
Valderrama also appeared for the Colombian national team from 1985 to 1998 scoring 11 goals in his 111 appearances for them. He represented Colombia in three consecutive World Cups, namely 1990 1994, and 1998 editions of the competition, and captained the Colombian national team in 1990 World Cup.
In fact, he had his best performances in that World Cup, and actually helped his country’s national team to advance to the round of 16 in the competition.
The 58-year-old former Colombian midfielder was also named in the MLS All-time Best 11 and South American Team of the Year in 1987, 1993, and 1996. He was also named the Colombian Player of the Century in 1999 and South American Footballer of the Year in 1987 and 1993.
Another retired foreign footballer to rank among the top 10 best MLS players of all time, Jaime Moreno Morales, simply known as Jaime Moreno, was born in January 1974 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.
He actually played almost half of his footballing career for American clubs and scored 90% of all his goals for them. So, by that standard, we can say he actually shined in USA!
While Moreno scored only 15 goals for Bolivian clubs during his career, he scored the rest of his career goals (134 goals) for American clubs. And if you know that, from all these 134 goals, 131 were scored for only one club, namelyDC United
, you may get surprised again! Moreno is also the first player to have reached the milestone of 100 goals and 100 assists in MLS history.
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The 46-year-old former Bolivian forward also appeared 75 times for the Bolivia national team between 1991 and 2008 and scored 9 goals for them overall. His affection for DC United remained even after retirement as he managed the club’s U23 teams between 2011 and 2013.
Moreno also played for the second-tier English club,Middlesbrough
, in 1994-95 season and won the league title with them in the same season. He was also named in MLS Best 11 in 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, and 2006 and won 4 MLS Cups during his footballing career.
Born in June 1970 in Detroit, Michigan, USA, Cobi N'Gai Jones, simply known as Cobi Jones, is another American footballer on the list of Top 10
Best MLS Players of All Time
Except for two seasons played for the English club, Coventry City, and the Brazilian club, Vasco da Gama, Cobi Jones played the rest of his career in MLS and only for one club, namely LA Galaxy.
Although a midfielder, Jones scored 70 goals forLA Galaxy
in his 306 appearances for them from 1996 to 2007 which translates to almost one goal in every 4.5 appearances; almost a good record for a midfielder.
And with 164 appearances between 1992 and 2004, he has also appeared more than any other American footballer for the USA national team - his record is not yet broken.
Cobi Jones is also a member of National Soccer Hall of Fame in USA which actually honors the achievements in USA football. During his 11-year spell with LA Galaxy, Jones won one CONCACAF Champions' Cup, Two MLS Cups, and two Supporters’ Shield Awards, all between 1998 and 2005. Jones also served LA Galaxy as an assistant manager from 2008 to 2010.
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Finally a goalkeeper on the list of Best MLS Players of All Time! And why chosen as one of the best USA Major League Soccer players ever? Because he has made more saves than any other goalkeeper in MLS history: Actually 1453 saves during his footballing career.
He is also a record holder at LA Galaxy, the club for which he appeared the most - 243 times - during his career: He made 12 saves for the American top-tier club in a single match, a record that is not broken yet by any other goalkeeper at the club.
Hartman’s complete name is Kevin Eugene Hartman, but he’s commonly known as Kevin Hartman. He was born in May 1974 in Ohio, United States, and by now is 46 years old. He has also appeared five time for the USA national team between 1999 and 2006, but he’s better known for his achievements at club level.
With LA Galaxy, Hartman won one CONCACAF Champions' Cup in 2000, two MLS Cups in 2002 and 2005, two Supporters’ Shield trophies in 1998 and 2002, and three MLS Western Conference Championships in 1999, 2002, and 2005. He was also named
MLS Goalkeeper of the Year
Born in May 1978 in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, Dwayne Anthony De Rosario, simply known as Dwayne De Rosario, is a retired Canadian footballer who played most of his career for American clubs like Houston Dynamo,New York Red Bulls
, and DC United. He played both as an attacking midfielder and forward and also appeared for the Canadian club, Toronto FC, during his career.
Rosario is the seventh highest goalscorer in MLS history with 107 goals scored in total for the major American league clubs.
He was also named in the Canadian all-time best 11 team and won the MLS Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. He has also played for the Canadian national team from 1998 to 2015 scoring 22 goals in his 88 appearances for them.
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Rosario was also named in MLS Best 11 team in 6 consecutive years from 2005 to 2011, and won the MLS Golden Boot in 211, and MLS Goal of the Year Award in 2004 and 2005.
He was also chosen as the Canadian Player of the Year in four years, three of them were consecutive. With all these honors, Rosario could surely be on the list of Top 10 Best MLS Players of All Time.
Born in May 1978 in Hale'iwa, Hawaii, United States, Brian Ching is another footballer among the
best Major League Soccer players of all time
who only played for MLS clubs including LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes, and Houston Dynamo during his footballing career.
He’s also one of the most decorated players in MLS history with a number of trophies and honors won during his spell at the major American league.
Ching is the winner of MLS Golden Boot in 2004, and MLS Goal of the Year Award in 2006. He was also named in MLS All-Star Team for six years between 2004 and 2010 and also in the MLS Best 11 in 2004. He’s also the three-time winner of MLS Cup and six-time winner of MLS Western Conference Championship.
Quite a number of honors! So, the 42-year-old retired American footballer will surely fit on our list of the best USA Major League Soccer players in history.
He actually played as a forward all his career and scored 122 goals in total in his 296 appearances at club level which translates to almost two goals in every 5 appearances. He has also played for the USA national team and has scored 11 goals in his 45 appearances for them.
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Born in August 1976 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Jeff Cunningham is a retired Jamaican footballer who played almost all his career for MLS clubs. With 134 MLS goals scored throughout his career, Cunningham is actually the third highest goalscorer in MLS history.
He scored this number of goals in 353 appearances he made for American clubs (more than one goal in every three appearances).
Cunningham is also the winner of MLS Golden Boot in 2006 and 2009 and was also named in MLS Best 11 in 2002, 2006 and 2009. Although one of the highest goalscorers in MLS history and indeed one of the
best MLS players ever
, Cunningham has never won a MLS Cup.
Since Cunningham has dual nationality - he’s both a citizen of Jamaica and United States - he could and has played for both countries’ national teams: For Jamaica once, and for United states 14 times.
Other than all the American clubs Cunningham has played for, he also appeared for a Canadian club, namely Toronto FC, in 2007-08 season where he wore number 96 jersey to indicate the number of goals he had scored until then in MLS.
The 44-year-old Jamaican forward is also the ninth player who has had the most appearances in MLS history. He’s also the second highest goalscorer at the American club,Columbus Crew
, and also the third player at the club with the most number of appearances and assists.
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And finally a defender on the list of Best MLS Players of All Time! Born in December 1973 in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States, George Edward Pope, simply known as Eddie Pope, is an American retired footballer who played as a defender for American clubs - and only American clubs - throughout his career. Pope is an inductee of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in US and was also named the
MLS Defender of the Year
Pope played most of his career for DC United and won almost all of his trophies including three MLS Cups, two Supporters’ Shield trophies, and one U.S. Open Cup with the American club all between 1996 and 1998. He was also named in the MLS Best 11 for 4 years, namely in 1997, 1998, 2003, and 2004.
Pope also made 82 appearances for the USA national team between 1996 and 2006 and even scored 8 goals for them despite being a defender. He also took part in three World Cups, namely 1998, 2002, and 2006 World Cups, with the US national team.