The Los Angeles Galaxy were one of the ten inaugural teams of Major League Soccer when the league started in 1996. From the first kick the Galaxy wanted to stand out above the rest, the team signed Mexican and human highlight reel Jorge Campos and American international and USMNT fan favorite Cobi Jones, not to mention Melrose Place actor Andrew Shue.
The Galaxy had something for everyone, but above all, the team has had a winning mentality in the 25 years they have been in MLS. Winners of the most MLS cups by any team, the Galaxy have 5 MLS Cups, 4 Supporters Shields, 2 U.S. Open Cups, and 1 CONCACAF Champions Cup.
The Galaxy also made the most important signing of MLS history, they signed the one and only David Beckham. The star power has always been there, but the club has also had many workhorses that have given the team a balance of work and ability. Here are the 15 greatest Los Angeles Galaxy players of all-time.
15. Greg Vanney
The shifty and quick defensive back Greg Vanney was a staple of the Galaxy’s defense in the early years of the league. Vanney was drafted 17th overall in the 1996 MLS College Draft and in his six years for the club played 168 games before an unlikely move to French side SC Bastia. Vanney won a U.S. Open Cup, and CONCACAF Champions Cup, but departed to Europe before the team would win their first MLS Cup. Today, Vanney is one of the best coaches in all of MLS.
14. Jorge Campos
The Galaxy’s first superstar signing, you cannot exclude Jorge Campos from this list. Campos was worth the price of admission, he was flair, with acrobatic saves, craziness with his running from the goal area to the middle of the field with the ball, and effective making clutch saves. He only played 43 games, but when 70,000 fans show up to just watch him play, you know he was something special. He did not win any championships with the club, but he did help give the league and team huge notoriety. He was replaced by Kevin Hartman in goal, as Campos fell victim usually to salary cap demands and better overall goalkeeping by his American understudies.
13. Eduardo Hurtado
Some people might roll their eyes at this one, but numbers don’t lie. In 50 games El Tanque scored 30 goals for the club. Eduardo Hurtado was one of the most feared forwards in MLS in the early years as his size made him very difficult to mark. Why the Galaxy traded him in 1998 remains a bit of a mystery, rumor has it he and Octavio Zambrano did not get along, because he started the year scoring goals and went on to have a very productive 1998 with the MetroStars.
12. Robin Fraser
The American defender was one of the best in the early days of MLS. Robin Fraser was a locker room leader and an elegant defender. He was an MLS best 11 defender 4-times and played a total of 129 games for the club. He has since become a very decent coach, coaching the Colorado Rapids.
11. Edson Buddle
At the dawn of the Beckham era, Edson Buddle was the go-to forward for the Galaxy in MLS. He scored 42 goals in 87 games in his first stint with the club. During that time, he earned his starting position with the Galaxy, he got on the 2010 USMNT World Cup squad and earned a transfer to FC Ingolstadt 04 in Germany. His later stints with the club were not as productive but the 2007 - 2010 run makes him one of the best of all-time, the man worked for everything he got.
10. Omar Gonzalez
Omar Gonzalez was a USMNT defender and L.A. Galaxy standout. The young and vocal defender was one of the best in the league and during his 7-year stint with the club, Gonzalez won three MLS Cups and played in 180 games scoring 12 goals, as he was very dangerous on set pieces. Omar Gonzalez went on to win championships in Mexico and is currently with Toronto FC.
9. Carlos Ruiz
El Pescadito, the little fish, Carlos Ruiz came to MLS at a young 22 years of age and wanted to showcase his talents to the world. He did, he scored 50 goals in 72 matches for the club in his first stint. He was a tough and difficult forward, known for quick shots and runs at goal and a harsh temperament. Ruiz scored the golden goal in the Galaxy’s first MLS Cup triumph in 2002 against the New England Revolution. No Galaxy fan will ever forget the tough forward from Guatemala.
8. Mike Magee
One of the most underrated players in MLS history, Mike Magee, was a workhorse, a contributor, he wasn’t the star player nor the first guy you thought of in the Galaxy lineup, but there he was Mr. Consistency. Magee scored 2 goals in the playoffs in 2009 helping the Galaxy get to the MLS Cup final. He won 2 MLS Cups with the club and even had to play as a goalkeeper one time when the team was out of subs and Donovan Ricketts was sent off. He made 4 saves and kept a clean sheet, Magee did it all!
7. Kevin Hartman
When the Galaxy announced that they traded Jorge Campos to the Chicago Fire, Galaxy fans were livid. While they had seen a bit of Kevin Hartman in 1997, usually when Campos was with the Mexican National Team, was it enough to give a young keeper the position held by one of the team's top players? It was, Kevin Hartman went on to become one of, if not the greatest goalkeeper in MLS history. Even the Mexican L.A. fans fell in love with him and gave him the nickname El Gato.
6. Zlatan Ibrahimović
Let’s face it Zlatan Ibrahimović would be number one if not for one thing… He did not win MLS Cup. Zlatan was on a tear in MLS he scored at will, 52 goals in 56 games, maybe no other forward will come close to such productivity in just two years. Aside from the goals Zlatan Ibrahimović was a show off the field, with his crazy quotes and brash if not sometimes hurtful remarks about the league and teammates. He is one of MLS and the Galaxy’s greatest players, even though it went lighting fast.
5. Mauricio Cienfuegos
The small creative midfielder from El Salvador, Mauricio Cienfuegos was the engine behind the Galaxy’s attack in the early years of MLS. He scored 35 goals and 78 assists in over 200 games, he played with the club until he retired in 2003. Cienfuegos was an MLS best 11 three times, He won the 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup, the 2001 U.S. Open Cup, and the 2002 MLS Cup.
4. Cobi Jones
One of the USMNT all-time fan favorites, Cobi Jones was ultra-cool in the Galaxy midfield for over 10 seasons. He played over 300 games for the team and scored 70 goals, having a breakout 1998 where he scored 19 goals. He won 7 trophies with the club; the team retired his number 13 making it the first number retired in MLS history.
3. David Beckham
The man who changed MLS forever, David Beckham played 4 seasons with the Galaxy and although at times it was up and down, Beckham’s signing had an effect that will last forever in the league. Becks played 98 games for the team and won 2 MLS Cups and 2 Supporter Shields. He scored lovely goals and while it took a bit to get on the winning track, Beckham delivered much more than what could be asked of him.
2. Robbie Keane
The Irish striker came to MLS at 31 and was the missing link to get the Galaxy on that championship track. Robbie Keane scored 83 goals in 125 games; he was one of the most lethal goal scorers the league had ever seen. 3 MLS Cups later the Galaxy fans miss the feisty Irish striker.
1. Landon Donovan
The greatest player in USMNT history, Landon Donovan came to the Galaxy after a rough go at Bayer Leverkusen, Bayer’s loss was the Galaxy’s gain as Donovan scored 113 goals for the club, and won 4 MLS Cups, and 1 U.S. Open Cup. When motivated no player on the field was better than Donovan. He proved the naysayers wrong when he went on loan to Everton in the EPL twice and played extremely well. At the World Cup Donovan always showed up, the face of U.S. Soccer and MLS for years, Donovan took the responsibility and ran with it. Donovan is the greatest player in MLS history as awarded by the league and the MVP trophy bears his name.