Major League Soccer keeps growing year after year and it is quickly becoming a top tier league. Making this list was no easy task and many great player didn't quite get in. On the other hand there will be many expected names like David Beckham and Robbie Keane.
This list is only taking MLS performances into account, not how great a player may have been overall throughout their career. Some players were in the league from the very start and some others are way more recent just breaking record after record.
There are some absolute league legends on here and some overall legends of the sport. There are many big names on this list and in one way or another they have done something worthy to be ranked among the greatest players in MLS history. Without further ado, lets take a look at the greatest MLS players of all time.
25. Brian Ching
Brian Ching is an American player who is now retired and played in the MLS for 12 years. Ching was the first player of Hawaiian descent to play in the league and he also represented the U.S. national team for eight years.
Ching won the Golden Boot and Best MLS XI in 2014 when he scored 25 goals in 56 games for the San Jose Earthquakes. He then made a move to Houston Dynamo and won two MLS Cups with the team while scoring important goals in the competition.
24. Cobi Jones
Cobi Jones is an LA Galaxy legend and played at the club for almost the entirety of his career. He is the all-time leader in caps for the United States national team and played for the Galaxy for 11 years. In 1998 he was named the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.
Jones had a fantastic run with the Galaxy and led them to two Supporter's Shields, two MLS Cups, and a CONCACAF Champions Cup. In 2005, Jones became the very first player to remain in the same MLS team since 1996 and when he did retire, the club also retired his jersey number to honor him.
23. Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry is an absolute legend of the sport. He was included in the UEFA Team of the Year five times and the PFA Team of the Year for six consecutive years. He was definitely one of the most impactful signings in MLS history.
Henry is a three-time MLS Best XI and led the New York Red Bulls to a Supporters' Shield which was the club's first ever trophy. The Arsenal all-time top scorer made his mark in the MLS and helped the NY Red Bulls achieve what they never had before.
22. Bradley Wright-Phillips
Bradley Wright-Phillips had to fight for his minutes playing for the New York Red Bulls as Thierry Henry was at the club during the same time. He showed he was worthy of playing time and has two of the top 10 best-goal scoring seasons in MLS history.
Phillips is a two-time MLS Golden Boot winner, two-time MLS Best XI, eighth in all time goals scored in the league, and carried the New York Red Bulls to three Supporters' Shields. As of March 2021, he has 116 goals in 214 MLS matches and is still going strong.
21. Guillermo Barros Schelotto
Guillermo Barros Schelotto played in the MLS for four years but his time in the league was well spent. He played for Columbus Crew before moving back to Argentina and finishing his career at Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata in 2011.
Barros Schelotto led the Crew to three league and cup titles and also won two individual awards in his short time with the league. in 2008 he was named the league MVP after getting 19 assists with the Crew and winning the MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield in the same year.
20. Clint Dempsey
If this was a list about the greatest United States national team players, there would be few who would argue that Clint Dempsey isn't #1. However, in the MLS Dempsey played for New England Revolution and Seattle Sounders were he made an impact on both clubs.
Dempsey was the 2004 MLS Rookie of the Year, the 2016 MLS Cup winner, the 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year, and a two-time MLS Best XI. He scored 72 goals in 186 games during his time in the MLS before retiring in 2018.
Preki is an 'MLS original' as he played for the Kansas City Wizards in 1996 upon the start of Major League Soccer. As of March 2021, he is the only player to have earned the MLS MVP award twice and was inducted into the American National Soceer Hall of Fame in 2010.
Preki played 244 games and scored 79 goals in the MLS and his 112 assists make him the 5th all-time assister in league history. He is the current all-time league leader in points scored and was named an MLS All-Time Best XI.
18. Carlos Ruiz
Carlos Ruiz has played for five different MLS clubs (LA Galaxy, FC Dallas, Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union, and D.C. United). Nicknamed "El Pescadito" or "The Little Fish" Ruiz is the 12th all-time scorer in the MLS with 89 goals.
Ruiz won the MLS MVP award in 2002 when he scored 24 goals and led the LA Galaxy to an MLS Cup. He was also named an MLS Best XI and has an MLS Goal of the Year award. Ruiz also scored 16 goals in a post-season which is is an MLS record.
17. Taylor Twellman
Taylor Twellman is one of the greatest goal scorers that Major League Soccer has had. He joined the New England Revolution side in 2002 and scored 23 goals in 28 games in his first season. No other player scored more MLS goals than Twellman from 2002/09 with 101 goals.
Twellman played in four MLS Cups but has never won the trophy. He is the New England Revolution's all-time top goal scorer with 101 goals and won the 2005 MLS MVP and Golden Boot. He is also a two-time MLS Best XI and 10th in all time league goals.
16. Carlos Vela
Carlos Vela is known for being a lethal goal scorer and a versatile player who can play anywhere up top. As of March 2021 he has only played in the MLS for three years but he has had a big impact on the league.
Vela is a two-time MLS Best XI and won the 2019 MLS MVP and Golden Boot with the LAFC. That same year he broke a league record by scoring 34 goals in 34 games and also broke the league record for most combined goals and assists in a single season.
15. David Beckham
David Beckham is the most impactful signing that the MLS has ever had and there is no debating that. Him joining the league after playing for European giants Real Madrid and Manchester United instantly gave the MLS more prestige as a league.
Beckham won two MLS cups and two Supporters' Shields with the Galaxy while also being an MLS Best XI in 2011. He also scored many outstanding freekicks and has 18 goals and 40 assists in 98 games. He is the current owner of Inter Miami FC and is continuing his huge impact in the MLS.
14. David Villa
David Villa is Spain's all time leading top scorer and won a World Cup as well as the Champion's League. There is no debate that Villa is a soccer legend and his time in the MLS was well spent. He holds the record for most games played (113) and goals scored (73) for NYCFC.
Villa won the 2016 MLS MVP award and was second for the award the year after. He is also a two-time MLS Best XI and took NYCFC from a new expansion team to one of the league's best. Villa was one of the greatest goal scorers of his time.
13. Josef Martinez
Josef Martinez is a lethal goal scorer who has made his time in the MLS count. He holds the record for most hat-tricks in the league with six, the record for goals in both regular and post season with 35, and the record for most consecutive games with a goal with 15.
Martinez has broken record after record and there is still time to break more for the Venezuelan. He is an MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner, MLS Cup winner, and three-time MLS Best XI. He also won the 2019 MLS Goal of the Year award with Atlanta United.
12. Sebastian Giovinco
Sebastian Giovinco is another versatile player who can play in many offensive positions. He was the first player in MLS history to score 20+ goals and 10+ assists in a single season and is Toronto FC's top goal scorer with 68 goals in 114 games.
Nicknamed "The Atomic Ant" he was the 2015 MLS MVP and won the Golden Boot award. He is also a three-time MLS Best XI. In 2017 he won the MLS Cup and carried the team while also giving them their very first appearance in the playoffs.
11. Carlos Valderrama
Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama set expectations high for other attacking midfielders. He is known for his unique hairstyle and won the league's very first MLS MVP award. As of March 2021 he is the fourth all-time assister in the league with 114 assists in 177 matches.
Valderrama won the Supporters' Shield in the league's very first season with the Tampa Bay Mutiny. A three-time MLS Best XI and 1996 MLS MVP, he holds the MLS record for most assists in a single season with 26.
10. Jaime Moreno
Jaime Moreno was the all-time leading goal scorer in the MLS when he retired in 2010 and in 2009 he became the first MLS player to ever reach the mark of 100 goals and 100 assists. He was also inducted into the D.C. United Hall of Tradition in 2013.
Moreno scored 134 goals in 329 matches and is a five-time MLS Best XI. He is the fourth all time scorer and is sixth in all time assists. The Bolivian won four MLS Cups and is one of the most impactful players the league has ever had.
9. Eddie Pope
Eddie Pope spent his entire career in the MLS were he made 254 appearances. He played for three different teams (D.C. United, Metrostars, and Real Salt Lake) but is mostly remembered for his time at D.C. United. The star defender quickly became an MLS icon.
Pope gave D.C. United their very first MLS Cup in 1996 when he scored the golden goal cementing him as a club legend. He won three MLS Cups and was the 1997 Defender of the Year. The four time MLS Best XI was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011.
8. Tony Meola
Tony Meola is remembered by many as an iconic American keeper. He had 250 appearances in the MLS mostly representing the Kansas City Wizards. In 2000 Meola set the record for most clean sheets in a season at 16.
Meola is the only goalkeeper to win the MLS MVP award and he was just outstanding in goal. He led the KC Wizards to their first MLS Cup victory in 2000 and also made the MLS Best XI. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012.
7. Diego Valeri
Diego Valeri is a Portland Timbers legend. He has played 223 matches and scored 84 goals for the Timbers while also leading them to an MLS Cup win in 2015. Valeri is an outstanding player and the Portland Timbers fans will never forget what he did for the club.
Valeri had his most memorable season in 2017 when he single-handedly qualified his team into the playoffs when he got 20+ goals and 10+ assists. He is number 1 in goals and assists for the club. Valeri won the 2015 MLS Cup, the 2017 MLS MVP, and is a three-time MLS Best XI.
6. Marco Etcheverry
Marco Etcheverry is considered as one of the best Bolivian players of all time. He was one of the most dominant players in the first years of the league and carried his team to three separate MLS Cup wins. He spent his MLS career playing for D.C. United.
Etcheverry is one of the best forwards to ever play in the MLS. He won the MLS Goal of the Year twice and is a four-time MLS Best XI. He is seventh in all-time assists in the league with 101 and he also scored 34 goals in his 190 games for D.C. United.
5. Dwayne De Rosario
Dawyne De Rosario played for five different MLS teams (San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls, and D.C. United). The Canadian is the eighth all time top scorer in the league with 104 goals.
De Rosario won the MLS Cup four times and was the 2011 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner. He is a six-time MLS Best XI and has won two MLS Goal of the Year awards. He was also crucial for the Houston Dynamo and them winning their first two MLS Cups.
4. Jeff Agoos
Jeff Agoos is second in MLS Cup wins to the one and only Landon Donovan. He won five MLS Cups (three with D.C. United and two with the San Jose Earthquakes) and is considered one of the best defenders the MLS has ever had.
Agoos also helped lead his team to two Supporters' Shield and a U.S. Open Cup. He is a three-time MLS Best XI and won the 2001 award for MLS Defender of the Year. Agoos was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2001.
3. Chris Wondolowski
Chris Wondolowski was is a player you'd love in your team but hate to come up against. He is the top scorer in MLS history and the only player in league history to have scored 10+ goals in ten consecutive seasons.
Wondolowski was the 2012 MLS MVP and is the all-time leading goal scorer for the San Jose Earthquakes with 162 goals as of March 2021. Wondo has won two MLS Cups, two MLS Golden Boots, and three MLS Best XI awards.
2. Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane is the most capped player and highest goal scorer for the Republic of Ireland national team. In 2011 he joined LA Galaxy to create one of the best trios the MLS has ever seen with him, David Beckham, and Landon Donovan.
Keane won three MLS Cups with the Los Angeles Galaxy and was the 2014 MLS MVP. He scored 83 goals in 125 games for the Galaxy and was a four-time MLS Best XI. He was one of the best strikers that the MLS has ever seen!
1. Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan being number 1 on this list should be no surprise to anyone. He has the most MLS Cups out of any other player with six and was the 2009 MLS MVP. He has won almost a quarter of the leagues MLS Cups.
Donovan won the Goal of the Year award and is a seven-time MLS Best XI. He holds the record for most assists in MLS history with 136 and in 2015 the league renamed the MVP award to the "Landon Donovan MVP Award". An easy pick for our number 1 spot!