In December last year, Major League Soccer unveiled its 25 Greatest – a list of players that the association considered the best and most important performers in the league’s 25-year history.
The list the MLS published immediately sparked a furious debate about the merits of certain inclusions and the names of all-time greats that might have deserved a spot in the elite rundown instead.
Dozens of U.S. born and foreign imports have thrived in the MLS since the league’s inception in 1993 and deciding which of those players deserves to be listed among the best is, as they say, a game of opinions.
We thought we’d add our weight to the debate by compiling our own top 10 MLS players of all time list and you can check out our picks below. Make sure to hit us up on Twitter if you disagree with any of our selections.
Teams: DC United (1996-2002), MetroStars (2003-04), Real Salt Lake (2005-07)
Honors: Three-time MLS Cup winner, four-time MLS Best XI, 1997 MLS Defender of the Year, 2011 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee
Eddie Pope resisted offers from Europe and beyond to spend his entire professional career in the MLS, where he made a huge 254 appearances between 1995 and 2007.
Pope is best remembered for his iconic spell with DC United, where he notched the dramatic golden goal that handed the Washington club the first MLS Cup back in 1996.
Teams: DC United (1996-2000), San Jose Earthquakes (2001-04), MetroStars (2005)
Honors: Five-time MLS Cup winner, three-time MLS Best XI, 2001 MLS Defender of the Year, 2009 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee
Legendary defender Jeff Agoos’ haul of five MLS Cup wins is second only to Landon Donovan – who appears a little further down our list – and the stalwart is still to this day considered one of the best in his position to play soccer stateside.
Agoos made 284 appearances combined for three MLS clubs, he is a three-time MLS Best XI and he picked up the award for MLS Defender of the Year in 2001. Agoos was later inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame the same year.
Team: Portland Timbers (2013-present)
Honors: 2015 MLS Cup winner, 2017 MLS MVP, three-time MLS Best XI
Many MLS aficionados consider Diego Valeri to be the most gifted creative midfielder to have ever graced the league and the innovative Argentinean schemer, who is still terrorizing defenses, is closing in on 100 career assists.
Valeri has spent the entirety of his time in the United States with the Portland Timbers, leading the club to MLS Cup glory in 2015. Included in the MLS Best XI on three separate occasions, Valeri has ensured that his name will be etched into Timbers folklore forever.
Team: DC United (1996-2003)
Honors: Three-time MLS Cup winner, 1998 MLS MVP, four-time MLS Best XI, two-time MLS Goal of the Year award winner
Bolivian midfield maestro Marco Etcheverry is one of his country’s most famous sporting exports. The dynamic performer turned out for DC United over a glittering seven-year stint between 1996 and 2003, winning three MLS Cups during a silver-lined period in the capital.
Etcheverry won eight trophies with DC United overall and chipped in with over 100 assists during his sparkling era with the club.
Team: Toronto FC (2015-18)
Honors: 2015 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner, 2017 MLS Cup winner, three-time MLS Best XI
Giovinco spent a shorter time in the MLS than most of the other players on our list, however, the impact the Italian made during his stay with Toronto FC is hard to match. The attacking midfielder looked several levels above pretty much every other player in the league during his three year stint north of the border, where the “Atomic Ant” was the star attraction every week.
The diminutive forward helped Toronto to reach back-to-back MLS Cup finals and the Canadian club lifted the trophy with Giovinco’s help in 2017.
Dwayne De Rosario
Teams: San Jose Earthquakes (2001-05), Houston Dynamo (2006-08), Toronto FC (2009-11, 2014), New York Red Bulls (2011), DC United (2011-13)
Honors: Four-time MLS Cup winner, 2011 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner, six-time MLS Best XI, two-time MLS Goal of the Year award winner
Prolific Canadian Dwayne De Rosario played with distinction for five different MLS clubs between 2001 and 2013 and his knack for producing match-defining moments allowed him to hit the Golden Goal in the 2001 MLS Cup.
De Rosario’s goal-getting numbers were phenomenal and he still ranks in eighth place in the list of all-time MLS top scorers with 104 goals.
Team: Los Angeles Galaxy (2011-16)
Honors: Three-time MLS Cup winner, 2014 MLS MVP, four-time MLS Best XI
Robbie Keane formed a triumvirate of superstars alongside David Beckham and Landon Donovan at LA Galaxy when he arrived on the west coast in 2011 and with the Irishman spearheading the attack, the big-spending Los Angeles side were impossible to stop.
Keane scored a superb 83 goals in just 125 games for Galaxy and he helped the club to win the MLS Cup three times inside a four-year spell.
Teams: DC United (1996-2003, 2004-10), MetroStars (2003)
Honors: Four-time MLS Cup winner, five-time MLS Best XI
Jaime Moreno ranks fourth in the all-time goals and sixth in the all-time assists list in the MLS – numbers that highlight just how potent an attacking force the Bolivian was during his time in the United States.
Landon Donovan is the only other player to top 100 goals and assists in the league’s history and Moreno was a four-time MLS Cup winner during his incredible career.
Teams: San Jose Earthquakes (2005, 2009-present), Houston Dynamo (2006-09)
Honors: MLS’ all-time leading goal-scorer, 2012 MLS MVP, three-time MLS Best XI, two-time MLS Golden Boot winner, two-time MLS Cup winner
Unfortunately for his fans and luckily for MLS defenders, 2021 is set to be Chris Wondolowski’s swansong season, though the striker will leave a wonderful legacy behind him.
Wondo is the top scorer in MLS history and is the only player in league history to have notched 10+ goals in ten consecutive seasons. He is on 168 goals and counting as of August this year and the 38-year-old will be determined to go out on a high.
Teams: San Jose Earthquakes (2001-04), Los Angeles Galaxy (2005-14, 2016)
Honors: Six-time MLS Cup winner, 2009 MLS MVP and Goal of the Year winner, seven-time MLS Best XI
If you find a top 10 MLS players of all time list without Landon Donovan at number one, then you need to start penning some angry emails.
Second, on the list of all-time goal-scorers and first on the list for career MLS assists, Donovan is a bona fide soccer legend in the U.S. and the ex-Galaxy superstar has won more MLS Cups than any other play in the competition’s history.
Donovan made the cut for the MLS Best XI a huge seven times during his career and the fact that the league renamed the MVP award to the “Landon Donovan MVP Award” after he retired really says it all.