MLS has had many great players play in the league in the 26 years since the league began way back in 1996. Marco Etcheverry, Landon Donovan, Jorge Campos, David Beckham, Diego Valeri, Carlos Valderrama, and Thierry Henry come to mind as being flag bearers of the league in various points of its history.
Some lesser known but equally as important players came through the league and left a mark as well, Roberto Donadoni, Carlos Ruiz, Sebastian Giovinco, and Dwayne De Rosario in many ways were stars on their teams and influential in many aspects. More importantly MLS provided a place for Americans to shine like Eddie Pope, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Taylor Twellman, and so many more.
Every so often, as is the case in world soccer, players transfer in and out of leagues, some of them in their own right were name signings at the time, MLS is no exception. Here are 5 players that at the time were known players that played in MLS that you might not know about.
5. Walter Zenga
Like many name foreign players in the early days of MLS, Walter Zenga came to MLS at the tail end of his career in 1997. The former Italian national team goalkeeper signed with the New England Revolution to provide some leadership, and while the club marginally improved with Zenga, his odd look of a baseball cap, used to cover up his bald spot, and spider web over the number 1 made him look unique. Zenga played on and off for three years in New England, 47 games total, then he became a player coach, only to be fired by 1999.
4. Alain Sutter
Still very much in his prime, Alain Sutter was a DP way before being a DP was a thought in MLS. The Swiss midfielder and former Bayern Munich player signed with the Dallas Burn in 1997, he was the league's highest paid player, and played very well. Sutter wore the number 66 as a tribute to route 66 and originally wanted to sign a 10-year deal with the league so he could play in all 10 teams before retiring. Thankfully, the heads of MLS talked him out of it. Unfortunately, Sutter suffered a career ending injury in preseason of 1998 when while jogging his foot sunk into a hole in the high school field the Burn used to train on, forcing Sutter to retire.
3. Giuseppe Galderisi
Giuseppe Galderisi the former Juventus and Milan forward signed with the Revolution in 1996 but played only 4 games before having a decent run with the Tampa Bay Mutiny, where he scored 12 goals in 37 games. Pepe Galderisi would retire after a return to the Revolution midway through 1997.
2. Thomas Ravelli
The Swedish goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli played only 1 season with the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1998. The former World Cup hero brought all his charm and flair, but the Mutiny were a really bad team. Ravelli is most remembered for his antics, and a fight with a photographer during a game which costed the Mutiny a goal.
It went lightning fast but English goal machine Jermain Defoe played for Toronto FC in 2014 at the dawn of the DP era. Defoe was an instant hit in Toronto, who finally saw their fortunes changing, but then after 19 games and 11 goals Defoe wanted out. Following a coaching change Defoe was not happy as to where the team was going and would push for a move back to England.