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Major League Soccer is now 26 years old since its establishment. Since its creation, it has made leaps and bounds to be among the most-watched soccer leagues in the world. Most importantly, MLS has taken US soccer to the world, negating a perceptional in America it was always about American Football. While American Football remains a top sport in the country, thanks to the Super Bowl, soccer is also gaining traction among millions of fans. We have also seen many EPL players in MLS help teams win trophies.
Interestingly, American soccer is now attracting some of the world's renowned soccer talents. Football greats have always played their golden years in the MLS, further highlight the fast-growing soccer culture in the US. When everyone thought American sporting culture was limited to other sports, we have seen athletes like Christian Pulisic emerge as American Captain in the world of soccer. As many more soccer talents come from America to the world, MLS is equally gaining popularity league but a destination for top soccer talents. This post explores 10 former EPL players MLS.
Famous EPL Players in MLS
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a well-known ex EPL soccer player in MLS, now playing for AC Milan. At the age of 39, he continues to shine in the beautiful game. While most people thought MLS is a retirement league for players who ply their trade in soccer leagues outside America, it was not the case with Zlatan. He is regarded high among former EPL players in MLS who left a huge impact on American soccer. The Swede plied his trade at LA Galaxy where he helped the team achieved milestones that remained a mirage for many years.
Even though he was quoted at some point complaining the America’s soccer academies are expensive, Ibrahimovic’s MLS exploits have gone down to the history books. Zlatan helped LA Galaxy reach the semi-finals in Wester Conference League. In his first season, Zlatan was named in the MLS best eleven and became LA Galaxy captain during his season at the club.
Former Manchester United player, Wayne Rooney, is among the top EPL players in MLS. Rooney drew large fans to the beautiful sports and when he moved to DC United, he formed a scoring partnership with the team’s forwards. When everyone thought a 17-year-old career in EPL would mark the end of Rooney’s football career, a surprise move to DC United at the age of 32 made him an epl stars in mls. Rooney scored goals for fun before switching back to EPL. For two seasons as DC United, Wayne Rooney scored 23 goals and provided 15 assists.
Before dismally performing on the touchline as Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard shuttered the EPL goals with rocket shots. Lampard is among the football greats from EPL who plied their trade in the MLS. As an ex EPL soccer player in MLS, Lampard played for New York City FC where he netted 15 goals in 29 appearances for the MLS team.
Carlos Vela is a former Arsenal player who adds to our rich lost of EPL players in MLS. Vela was loved for his style of chipping the goalkeeper in one-on-one situations. Now 32, Vela’s time in MLS playing for Loss Angles FC has been the most impressive compared to other EPL players who switched to the American soccer league. His debut season in MLS came with 14 goals. The Mexican international also provided 10 assists during his first season at the club. Moreover, Carlos Vela scored more than 50 goals for Los Angeles FC in more than 60 goals. During his stint in the MLS, the former Arsenal player established himself as one of the MLS top talents. He was named the best MLS eleven at the end of his debut season. In 2019, Vela earned the MLS prestigious individual award of the Most Valuable Player (MPV).
Bastian Schweinsteiger may not have spent a long spell in EPL after leaving Germany but he remains a top football icon from EPL who also plied his trade in MLS. The German football legend and World Cup winner achieved more success at Chicago Fire than he managed at Manchester United. Bastian Schweinsteiger was a regular starter for the Chicago fire. In some games, he was the team captain for the MLS side.
Kei Kamara may not have thrived in English football but he has earned a reputation in the MLS as one of the most successful talents who came from EPL. Kamara kicked off his EPL career after a loan move to Norwich City in 2013. However, the Sierra Leone international only made 11 appearances and scored only once. Kei Kamara would later move to the second-tier league side, Middleborough. He later returned to the US where he previously played soccer. Kamara scored more than 75 goals in the MLS across different MLS clubs such as New England Revolution, Columbus Crew, Sporting Kansas, Houston Dynamo and Vancouver Whitecaps. He also played for FC Cincinnati, Minnesota United FC and Colorado Rapids. At the end of his MLS career, Kei Kamara moved to the Finnish side, HFK.
Gideon Zelalem is a former Arsenal player who also plied his trade in the MLS. Arsenal handed the German-born US immigrant a five-year contract from 2014 to 2019. Unfortunately, things did not go as played for the player in EPL. Gideon Zelalem spent most of his time in Arsenal as a loan player. The player hardly made it to the first team. He would then secure a return to the US and joined the MLS side, Sporting Kansas City. It seems Gideon Zelalem was meant for the MLS because he has impressed more in the league than he did in the EPL.
Gideon Zelalem is only 24 years old now and now plays for New York City FC. He switched to his current club on a free transfer in January 2020. He was briefly without a club in January 2021 before being contracted again by New York City FC in March this year.
Thierry Henry was undoubtedly a top ex EPLsoccer player in MLS who plied his trade in the US. The former Arsenal player netted 175 goals during his stint in Arsenal and was recently inducted into the newly created Premier League Hall of Fame. Thierry Henry helped the Gunners secure many titles, including the Premier League and F.A Cup during his time at Arsenal. At the end of his EPL Career, Thierry Henry moved to New York Red Bulls. In MLS, Thierry Henry made 122 appearances and scored 51 goals. The French international hanged his boots in 2014 to become a football TV pundit. He also trained as a football manager after which, he took over managerial duties at Monaco where he later quit.
It could be incomplete to mention former EPL players in MLS without David Beckham. David Beckham is a football great whose impact on MLS is still being felt today. The former Manchester United player did wonders under Sir Alex Fergusson. With a desire to improve soccer in the US, the former England international signed a 5-year contract with LA Galaxy after his time at Manchester United. However, he only made fewer than 100 appearances in MLS during that period due to frequent loan spells in Europe.
Notably, Beckham's move to MLS made the league even more popular. His move to the US soccer league became a major starting point for what would become a retirement league for top European soccer talents. MLS has become a retirement league for former English Premier League players. Since his career days, David Beckham has become a darling of the sport. Several other players such as Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and Bradley Wright Phillips followed in his footsteps.
Didier Drogba is one of the greatest soccer talents the world has ever seen and ex EPL player in MLS . The Ivorian international plied his trade in Chelsea, a place where he earned a cult-hero-like following from English soccer fans. During his time at Stamford Bridge, Drogba helped Chelsea win the premier league on several occasions.
At the end of his Premier League career, Didier Drogba moved to China where he played briefly before switching to the US Major Soccer League. In 2015, Didier Drogba joined Montreal Impact. The former Chelsea striker made 33 appearances for Montreal Impact and scored an impressive 21 goals during his stint in the MLS team. Drogba also made history in the MLS when he became the first-ever player-club-owner at Phoenix Rising. Didier Drogba retired in December 2018 to focus on his club ownership. At some point, Drogba became a peacemaker when he stopped a civil war in his native country.
The US Major Soccer League remains a budding ground for top talents. It is also a preferred destination for soccer talents, especially those who retire from top European flights such as EPL. For example, former Manchester United player, Javier Hernandez IS now among the EPL star in MLS plays for LA Galaxy. This year, the Mexican international is among those tipped to score lots of goals in the American soccer league, MLS. While Chicarito did not impress in his debut season at LA Galaxy, he is up there among the best attackers projected to compete for the top scorer award in the new season.