Major League Soccer has attained popularity over the years and it comes as n surprise when you find some of the best European players plying their trade in the United States’ club soccer league in recent times.
The league has seen its share of exceptional players that took it by storm and carved niches for themselves as the very best since the league was launched at the professional level. Therefore, in this article, we will be looking at the 10 greatest NLS players of all time.
These professional soccer players made this list based on their achievements, team support, influence, FIFA ratings, and overall support of national games. Without much ado, let’s look at the 10 greatest MLS players of all time.
10. Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy
Country: United States
International career: Donovan scored a whopping 57 goals and provided at least 58 assists at the international level for the USMNT, and established himself as the second most featured player with 157 appearances in USMNT history.
European career: He performed moderately on his loan to German and English clubs.
MLS career (San Jose Earthquakes 2001-04; LA Galaxy 2005-14): He holds 136 assists records, six MLS cups, and 13 times all–star player.
Notable accomplishments: He won the 2002 FIFA World Cup best young player. Also, the only footballer to reach the 50 goals/50 assists mark for the US national team.
9. David Villa, NYFC
International career: He has the award of Spain’s all-time leading total goals (59) as well as a record of 9 goals in the World Cup. He was also the first Spaniard who scored 50 international goals. Villa won the UEFA Euros in 2008, and the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
European career: He holds three La Liga titles with two clubs. His football career which spanned many years had him score 223 goals with five clubs. Villa also holds two Champions League titles.
MLS career (NYCFC 2015-2018): As the first-ever player with NYCFC, he scored the first-ever goal for NYCFC. In his four seasons with New York FC, he scored 77 goals.
Notable accomplishments: He won the top scorer Euro 2008 award. In the 2010 World Cup, he won a Silver Boot.
8. Frank Lampard, NYCFC
International career: He was recognized as the eighth player who played more than 100 matches for England.
European career: Lampard won one Champions League, three League titles, One Europa League, and four FA Cup titles while at Chelsea. He scored 176 goals as a midfielder and made 105 assists within 20 seasons with three England clubs. In 2005, he won the FWA Footballer of the Year.
MLS career (NYCFC 2015-2016): Lampard scored 15 goals for NYCFC and made 3 assists in his two seasons with NYCFC.
Notable accomplishments: He won the Chelsea Player of the Year award three times and is also Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer with a staggering 211 goals in all his games in Chelsea. In the all-time number of assists in the Premier League, he is in 4th position.
7. Didier Drogba, Montreal Impact
Country: Ivory Coast
International career: In his 104 appearances, Didier Drogba scored 64 goals for Ivory Coast. This earned him the Ivory Coast‘s all-time leading goalscorer. He was the striker behind the first World Cup appearance in 2006 and also scored their first WC goal.
European career: Drogba netted 104 goals for Chelsea and was honored in Chelsea as the highest-scoring foreign-born player.
MLS career (Montreal Impact 2015-2016): In his two seasons in MLS with the Montreal Impact, Drogba scored 21 goals.
Notable accomplishments: He is a four-time winner of the Premier League and FA Cup with Chelsea. Also, the first African player who scored 100 Premier League goals. He won the African Player of the Year twice. In the 2003.04 Ligue 1 season, he was recognized as the Player of the Year.
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6. Andrea Pirlo, NYCFC
European career: In his playing career with five clubs, he netted 55 goals. Pirlo also won six Serie A titles, with five in a row from 2011 to 2015. He has won two Champions League titles, won five domestic Italian titles. Pirlo has also won one FIFA Club World Cup title.
MLS career (NYCFC 2015-17): In three seasons, Pirlo scored 60 goals. In his second and third seasons, he led his team to playoffs.
Notable accomplishments: He retains the record as the 2006 World Cup Final Man of the Match, 2012, ’13, and ’14 Serie A Footballer of the Year honors.
5. Kaka, Orlando City
International career: He was part of the team that won the 2002 World Cup for brazil. He also won the 2005/2006 FIFA Confederations Cup.
European career: He holds Serie A and La Liga winner titles. Won the UEFA Champions League. While at Orlando City, in his three seasons, he netted 24 goals with 21 assists
MLS career (Orlando City 2014-2017): Orlando City’s first player.
Notable accomplishments: Kaka holds the Two-time Serie Footballer of the Year award. Won the 2005 UEFA Midfielder of the Year, and in 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year.
He doubles down as a Ballon d’Or winner, UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, and IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker. Kaka is part of the list of players who won the World Cup, Champions League, and Ballon d’Or.
4. Wayne Rooney, D.C. United
International career: Holds the Youngest goalscorer title in England. He also holds the record of England’s all-time leading goalscorer and is the second most-capped player.
European career: He holds a club record at Manchester United with 253 goals in all competitions. And scored 183 Premier League goals, a league record for a single player in one team for Manchester United. He won 16 trophies while at Manchester United. Rooney holds five Premier League titles, as well as FA Cup and a Champions League titles.
MLS career (DC United 2018-2019): At MLS, he had 48 appearances with 23 goals for DC United.
Notable accomplishments: One of only two English players who won the Premier League title, FA Cup, Champions League, League Cup, Europa League, and FIFA Club World Cup.
3. Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls
International career: Helped his nation win the 1998 World Cup tournament. He also holds France’s all-time leading goalscorer with 51 goals. He won the UEFA Euro 2000 and FIFA Confederations Cup in 2003.
European career: He scored 228 goals in all competitions for Arsenal making him the all-time leading goalscorer. He is also a four-time league winner — two with Arsenal, and two with FC Barcelona. He also holds the Two-time FA Cup winner title. Henry is also a Champions League winner.
MLS career (New York Red Bulls 2010-2014): In his five seasons with Red Bulls, Henry scored 51 goals. Won the 2013 Supporters’ Shield.
Notable accomplishments: Thierry Henry is a Member of Arsenal’s “Invincibles” 2003-04 unbeaten squad. Also recognized as a Member of FC Barcelona’s 2008-09 treble (Copa del Rey, Primera División and Champions League) team.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimović, LA Galaxy
International career: Zlatan holds 116 caps for Sweden. With 62 goals, he is the all-time leading Swedish goalscorer.
European career: Over 14 seasons for six clubs with 268 goals. With five different clubs he played, he won Ten league titles in three different leagues, including streaks of five in a row (2007-11) and four in a row (2013-16).
MLS career (LA Galaxy 2018-2020): He holds an admirable record of 52 goals in 56 appearances.
Notable accomplishments: he holds a 12-time Swedish Player of the Year award. Won the Goal of the Year in the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award which was due to his bicycle kick against England.
1. David Beckham, LA Galaxy
International career: He was England’s captain 59 times. Also, the only English man who scored in three World Cups. He ranks in the fifth position of players who scored two times from a direct free kick in World Cup history. Has 17 total goals to his name.
European career: He netted 77 goals, and won eight league titles, two FA Cup titles, with one Champions League title.
MLS career (LA Galaxy 2007-12): He has in his honor, 98 career goals, back-to-back MLS Cup titles
Notable accomplishments: Two-time Ballón d’Or runner-up in his name, even two-time FIFA Player of the Year runner-up, and 2008 English Football Hall of Fame inductee.
The aforementioned players are the best and I daresay the greatest players in MLS history.
Kenneth is a an avid soccer follower, fan and writer. He is a consistent follower of the sport and is a fan of Chelsea FC.