Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

The Greatest MLS Players of All Time

MLS Players

Soccer has come a long way in MLS since its inception in 1996. With 27 teams now competing, the league is attracting more talented players from around the world. While they are not yet considered a top-tier league in international soccer, there is a clear ambition to reach that level in the future.

Throughout its relatively short history, MLS has seen some exceptional players emerge. This list aims to identify the 15 greatest players of all time who have left a lasting impact on the league.

15. Carlos Vela

Carlos Vela

  • Games: 83
  • Goals: 57
  • Assists: 25

Carlos Vela is one of the stars of the league today. His performances for Los Angeles FC earned him the 2019 MLS MVP and the Golden Boot. Breaking records, he scored an impressive 34 goals in 34 games, setting a new standard for combined goals and assists in a single season. Vela’s future in MLS remains uncertain, but he is undoubtedly on track to be remembered as one of the all-time greats.

14. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • Games: 56
  • Goals: 52
  • Assists: 14

Although Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s time in MLS was relatively short, he showcased his dominant skills even at an advanced age. In just two seasons with the LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic made an instant impact, scoring 52 goals in 56 games. Many doubted his abilities upon joining MLS, but he proved them wrong and even re-signed with AC Milan in 2020. Loved by LA Galaxy fans and respected across the league, Ibrahimovic left a memorable mark.

13. David Beckham

David Beckham

  • Games: 98
  • Goals: 18
  • Assists: 32

David Beckham is recognized more for his impact on MLS than as a superstar player. When he joined the LA Galaxy, Beckham demonstrated to the world that the league deserved serious attention. During his tenure, he won multiple MLS Cups and proved that he still had plenty of talent left. Beckham’s presence in MLS raised the bar and inspired other teams to sign players of his caliber.

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12. David Villa

David Villa

  • Games: 117
  • Goals: 77
  • Assists: 21

David Villa made a significant impact when he signed with New York City FC as their first-ever player. Despite being past his prime, Villa’s skill and contributions helped turn the team into immediate contenders. With 77 goals scored in four seasons, he earned the title of the 2016 MLS MVP.

11. Carlos Valderrama

Carlos Valderrama

  • Games: 175
  • Goals: 16
  • Assists: 69

Carlos Valderrama became one of the faces of MLS when he joined the Tampa Bay Mutiny in its inaugural season. As the league’s first MVP, Valderrama’s play added credibility and excitement to MLS. Holding the record for the most assists in a season, he played a crucial role in establishing MLS as a competitive league.

10. Preki


  • Games: 242
  • Goals: 79
  • Assists: 75

One of the league’s best players, Preki is the only player to have won the MVP award twice. Known for his scoring prowess, he also claimed two MLS scoring titles. Preki’s contributions helped the Kansas City Wizards become consistent contenders in the league’s early years. Although his time at the top was shorter than others on this list, he is an integral part of MLS history.

9. Jeff Agoos

Jeff Agoos

  • Games: 244
  • Goals: 12
  • Assists: 15

Often overlooked, Jeff Agoos was a dependable and talented defender who won five MLS Cups. He played for both DC United and San Jose, always delivering consistent performances. Named the 2001 MLS Defender of the Year, Agoos is fondly remembered as one of the league’s best defenders.

8. Marco Etcheverry

Marco Etcheverry

  • Games: 191
  • Goals: 34
  • Assists: 69

Marco Etcheverry spent his entire MLS career with DC United, making major contributions to the team’s three MLS Cup championships. As an offensive-minded player, Etcheverry showcased his technical abilities and creativity. He was a driving force for DC United for many seasons.

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7. Nick Rimando

Nick Rimando

  • Games: 514
  • Goals Conceded: 629
  • Clean Sheets: 155

Nick Rimando is widely regarded as the greatest goalkeeper in MLS history. Despite the difficulty for goalkeepers to receive recognition, Rimando’s achievements speak for themselves. Holding multiple career records in wins, shutouts, saves, and appearances, he made a lasting impact. Rimando’s iconic save during a championship shootout further solidified his legacy.

6. Dwayne De Rosario

Dwayne De Rosario

  • Games: 342
  • Goals: 104
  • Assists: 57

Dwayne De Rosario spent the prime years of his career in MLS, playing for five different teams. His time with DC United culminated in winning the 2011 MLS MVP. De Rosario was known for his ability to score crucial goals, often single-handedly carrying his team to victory. His flair for the dramatic made him a fan favorite.

5. Diego Valeri

Diego Valeri

  • Games: 252
  • Goals: 85
  • Assists: 67

Portland Timbers fans consider Diego Valeri as the greatest player in MLS history. While opinions may vary, Valeri’s 2017 MVP title solidifies his status. His technical brilliance and creativity consistently trouble opposing teams. With more seasons ahead, Valeri has the potential to further enhance his legacy.

4. Jaime Moreno

Jaime Moreno

  • Games: 340
  • Goals: 133
  • Assists: 102

Jaime Moreno will always be remembered for his remarkable career with DC United. Winning four MLS Cups and contributing with goals and assists, Moreno played an instrumental role in the team’s success. He is one of only two players to achieve 100 goals and 100 assists in MLS. Moreno’s leadership made him an indispensable part of DC United’s achievements.

3. Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane

  • Games: 125
  • Goals: 83
  • Assists: 34

During his six-year tenure with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Robbie Keane formed a formidable trio alongside David Beckham and Landon Donovan. The team won three MLS Cups in four years, with Keane earning the 2014 MVP title. Despite having less star power than his teammates, Keane’s contributions were invaluable.

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2. Chris Wondolowski

Chris Wondolowski

  • Games: 399
  • Goals: 166
  • Assists: 43

Chris Wondolowski holds the record for the most goals scored in MLS history. A testament to his ability, he was not merely an accumulator. Wondolowski won the 2012 MLS MVP and lifted two MLS Cups. Recently retired, he will be remembered as a legend in San Jose Earthquakes history.

1. Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan

  • Games: 340
  • Goals: 146
  • Assists: 110

Many consider Landon Donovan as the face of MLS. Winning six MLS Cups and the 2009 MVP award, Donovan’s impact on the league cannot be overstated. He currently ranks second all-time in goals scored and first in career assists. Donovan’s longevity and commitment to MLS set him apart as one of the league’s true greats.


  • Who is the greatest MLS player of all time?
    Diego Valeri is often hailed as the greatest MLS player of all time by Portland Timbers fans. However, opinions may vary, and other players on this list have also left an indelible mark on the league.

  • Are there any active players on the list?
    Carlos Vela, as a current MLS star, finds himself among the greatest players in the league’s history. His performances and records make him a standout talent.

  • What other players could have made the list?
    MLS has seen numerous exceptional players throughout its history. Some notable players who narrowly missed the top 15 include Thierry Henry, Sebastian Giovinco, and Josef Martinez.


MLS has been fortunate to witness the talents of incredible players who have shaped the league’s history. Each player on this list has contributed in their unique way, leaving a lasting legacy. As MLS continues to grow, new players will surely emerge to challenge the greatness of those who came before them.