Top Five MLS Signings from Abroad
The American college system is producing several bright young soccer talents, but in recent years, the MLS has become saturated by foreign players. Often, players from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga have settled in the States in their career’s twilight years.
However, many of these players have drastically improved the standard of the league, producing skills and tricks as unpredictable as playing casino craps online. Despite often increasing the average age of the MLS, these players have brought undoubted experience, quality on the ball, and some fantastic goals, steals, and saves to American football fans. Here, we take a look at five of these players…
5. Steven Gerrard
Liverpool FC legend Steven Gerrard began his career with the Reds as an attacking midfielder and played a huge part in Liverpool’s success (albeit underwhelming for a club of their stature) since his debut in 1998. He scored some historic goals for Liverpool, including THAT iconic piledriver from the edge of the 18-yard box against Olympiakos in 2004, the header that ignited Liverpool’s stunning 3-3 comeback in Istanbul, and his angled free kick that condemned Manchester United to a 4-1 defeat at Old Trafford in 2009.
Gerrard joined LA Galaxy in 2015 and scored five times in 31 appearances in the MLS. He is now the manager at Scottish Premiership club Rangers.
4. Wayne Rooney
Ex-Everton, Manchester United, and England striker (amassing a record 53 goals for the latter) Wayne Rooney spent two years with D.C. United after a second spell at Merseyside- based club Everton. Despite only making 51 appearances for D.C, Rooney scored 23 goals and created a further 13 in his time in the States.
Rooney’s work ethic and sheer drive stood out during his time with D.C. and fans were sorry to see him go when he announced he’d be signing for EFL Championship side Derby County for the second half of the 2019/20 season as player-coach.
3. Sebastian Giovinco
Italian Sebastian Giovinco enjoyed a mixed spell in his native country, with Juventus, Empoli, and Parma. From 2006 to 2015, forward Giovinco only scored 42 goals and blitzed that record in only three years with Toronto FC.
Watching Giovinco play for Toronto between 2015 and 2018, you wouldn’t have understood why he wasn’t playing for a top European side. Many were left wondering why Giovinco didn’t quite fulfil his potential, making some wonder whether it was the expectations placed on him when he emerged as one of Juventus’ brightest young talents in 2008 that hindered his career.
He publicly expressed his happiness to be playing ‘better’ in the MLS and scored 83 goals in 142 games for the Canadian side. He’s now at Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.
2. David Villa
Villa is widely regarded as one of the greatest Spanish strikers of all time. A hardworking, terrier in the box, Villa loves playing on the shoulder of the last defender and racing through on goal.
When Villa joined New York City FC in 2015, he joined a number of famous players making the switch to the States including Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, and Didier Drogba. In his four seasons in the Big Apple, Villa notched up an impressive 77 goals in 117 appearances. Not bad. Not bad at all.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimović
Zlatan, Zlatan, Zlatan. A folk legend in the professional soccer game. Just his name strikes fear into opposition defenders.
Zlatan Ibrahimović is widely considered as one of the greatest strikers of all time. A bit of a maverick and outspoken in the press, ‘Ibra’ exudes buckets of confidence – and backs it up on the pitch.
With 485 goals in 808 career games, Ibrahimović literally scores wherever he goes. An astonishing 52 goals in 56 games (practically one goal per game) with LA Galaxy put him in the MLS history books – an impressive goalscoring trend that Ibra has mimicked throughout his career.
Imports into the MLS will likely continue in the future. Luckily for soccer fans, this means generations of world-class talent will be making its way to the States…