Argentina is known for its passion for the game of soccer and the world class talent that the country produces. Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Gabriel Batistuta, and Daniel Passarella are just four names of a country that has produced thousands of talented players.
MLS is no exception in seeing this talent, since 1996 in one form or another there have been Argentine players in the league. Originally thought of as a soccer graveyard, for most of its early history, there were only a handful of players from Argentina in the league. With the signing of Guillermo Barros Schelotto in 2007, all that changed, as more eyes turned to watch the league many other players came and followed Schelotto on an American journey.
In the last 10 years, the number of players from Argentina jumped from 15 to 40 players currently for the 2021 season, with more players rumored to be coming. The Argentine well has not dried up at all for MLS teams, but who are the best of the best? Well, we took into account all the eras in the league and we have come up with the 15 best Argentine players in MLS history!
15. Lucas Zelarayán
Okay we may have cheated on this one, and in time Lucas Zelarayán will most likely be in the top 5 of this list, but has there been any other player to come from Argentina and just put the team on his back and carry them to a title? Lucas Zelarayán did just that in 2020, in the spirit of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Zelarayán had an MVP first season in MLS and won an MLS Cup with a fantastic display in the final. The good part about Zelarayán, is there is more to come!
14. Diego Soñora
In 1996 a very young MLS was able to sign the captain of Boca Juniors, Diego Soñora, a talented right back, "Chiche'' played for the Dallas Burn, MetroStars, DC United, and Tampa Bay Mutiny in his many stints in MLS. Soñora was a three-time All-Star in the first three years in the league.
13. Matías Laba
Sometimes defensive positions don’t get the love they deserve, but Matías Laba was a steady and talented holding midfielder and was a rock in the middle for the all too inconsistent Vancouver Whitecaps. Laba was the league leader in tackles in 2014 and played over 100 games for the Whitecaps. He left to return to Argentina after an ACL injury limited his action near the end of his MLS run.
12. Leandro González Pírez
Leandro González Pírez has been one of the toughest and better defenders in MLS since his arrival in 2017 with Atlanta United. Prone to yellow cards, he had very solid seasons before moving to Liga MX in 2019. González Pírez returned to the league in 2020 to play with Inter Miami, where he immediately made an impact helping the team defensively. Argentines in MLS usually play in attacking positions so giving some defenders love isn’t a bad thing.
11. Fabián Espíndola
The hot headed Fabián Espíndola was integral in the Real Salt Lake sides of the late 2000s and early 2010’s, winner of MLS Cup in 2009, Espíndola played for three MLS sides and scored 64 goals in 212 games. Known for his ball work and taking on defenders the Argentine was a handful to play against.
10. Mauro Díaz
The talented Mauro Díaz graced the field for FC Dallas from 2013-2018, Díaz was a great set up man for the Dallas attack, being an MLS best XI in 2016. Unfortunately, Díaz had nagging injuries that would sideline him often, nonetheless he scored 23 goals in 109 games and was later sold to a Saudi club.
9. Maxi Moralez
The under the radar signing of Maxi Moralez to NYCFC was received with mixed reviews, well it turned out to be arguably the best move in club history. The little midfielder has been nothing but money for City in New York. 21 goals in 103 games, still going strong the NYCFC attack goes through Maxi.
8. Christian Gómez
Gomito came to MLS in 2004 at the tail end of the season and helped DC United win their fourth MLS Cup, after that Christian Gómez was one of the best players in the league at the dawn of the DP era. An attacking midfielder with a knack for goal, Gómez scored some spectacular goals as well as providing assists. Christian Gómez ended his professional career at the age of 44 in his native Argentina.
7. Mauro Rosales
What a difference a change of scenery makes, Mauro Rosales came to the Sounders after a very rough spell at River Plate and reinvigorated his career. The Argentine midfielder gave the expansion side some veteran experience. Rosales won 1 U.S. Cup and played 64 games for the team. He would later play for Chivas USA, FC Dallas, and the Vancouver Whitecaps where his experience was always a plus.
6. Sebastián Blanco
Sebastián Blanco came to the Timbers in 2017, and year after year the dynamic attacking midfielder has gotten better for the Portland side. Blanco was a bit of a hot head, but proper management by his coaches has led to getting the most out of Blanco, at 26 goals in 106 games, he was the MLS is Back MVP. Blanco has become a fan favorite in Portland and an integral part of their attack forming a great partnership with Diego Valeri.
5. Guillermo Barros Schelotto
Guillermo Barros Schelotto did more than just win an MLS Cup in 2008 with the Columbus Crew, GBS as he is known, helped change the perception of the league down in Argentina. Schelotto was a league MVP, MLS Cup MVP, Sports Illustrated Latino's Sportsman of the Year, and two-time Supporters Shield winner. All roads lead back to Guille when it comes to Argentines in MLS.
4. Federico Higuaín
Federico Higuaín carried the mantel left behind by Schelotto in Columbus and became a club legend in Ohio with 193 games and 55 goals, some of them were highlight reel plays, Higuaín is one of the best and most dynamic midfielders in MLS. Since his time in Columbus Higuaín made a pit stop in DC United and now plays for Inter Miami with his brother Gonzalo.
3. Javier Morales
Javier Morales without question is one of the greatest imports in the history of MLS. JaviMo was just made to be the man at RSL. 49 goals in 240 games from 2007 - 2016 Morales became the face of the club, winning MLS Cup in 2009 and being named to the MLS All-Star game on two occasions. Tricky, silky, and confident, the fans in Salt Lake still miss their midfielder maestro.
2. Ignacio Piatti
Maybe the most underrated signing in MLS history, Ignacio Piatti dominated the opposition, scoring 66 goals in 135 games! If Piatti would have played for a bigger market club, maybe he’d be in the running of being a top 5 all-time best MLS player. Piatti was a creator, finisher, and dribbler on an often-weak Montreal Impact, today CF Montreal, side. He was an All-Star three times, best eleven twice, and Montreal MVP 4 times to go along with 3 seasons as the clubs top goal scorer.
1. Diego Valeri
The standard for Argentine imports is Diego Valeri, what can be said about Valeri which we don’t know. Talented, leader, face of the franchise and the league that is who Valeri is to MLS. 84 goals in 233 games are just numbers, Valeri holds the Timbers together, one the field, off the field his family is a part of the Portland scene doing a lot of humanitarian work. A true legend of Portland and MLS. One of the best signings in league history.