Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

The Rise of Lionel Messi and the Impact of Iconic Soccer Players in MLS

greatest mls players of all time

There have been plenty of great players in the MLS, but some have left an indelible mark on the league. From Lionel Messi’s arrival to the contributions of other soccer legends, the MLS has witnessed the presence of some of the sport’s biggest icons. Join us as we take a closer look at the most famous players in MLS history, focusing on the impact they’ve made on the league.

The Arrival of Lionel Messi

At 36 years old and fresh off a World Cup victory, Lionel Messi made a historic decision to leave Europe and join Inter Miami in the MLS. Despite still having the ability to compete at the highest level, Messi recognized the opportunity to make an unprecedented impact on the league. His arrival has caused a frenzy among fans, who eagerly anticipate watching the legendary Argentine play and clamor for his jersey. Messi’s immense talent and decorated career, which includes numerous trophies and accolades, have solidified his position as the best player of all time. It is no surprise that he claims the top spot on this list.

The Contributions of Iconic Players in MLS

While Messi’s arrival is undoubtedly a game-changer for the league, it is essential to recognize the significant contributions of other iconic players who have graced the MLS throughout its history. Let’s take a closer look at some of these soccer legends:

Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey, a revered American soccer player, is renowned for his time in the MLS. Though he started and ended his career in the league, Dempsey’s most notable achievements came during his time with Premier League side Fulham. As Fulham’s all-time top goalscorer, he left an indelible mark on both sides of the Atlantic.

Carlos Vela

Carlos Vela, a Mexican player known for his creativity and goal-scoring abilities, made a significant impact during his time in the MLS. After stints with European giants Arsenal and Real Sociedad, Vela joined Los Angeles FC. He quickly became a star, winning numerous individual awards and helping his team secure the MLS Golden Boot, MLS MVP, MLS Cup, and a Supporter’s Shield.

Alexandre Pato

Alexandre Pato, a Brazilian player who achieved success at a young age, left his mark on the MLS. After winning titles like the FIFA Club World Cup and Serie A with Milan, Pato’s career led him to Orlando City. Despite facing some challenges, Pato’s talent and previous successes made him a noteworthy addition to the league.

Hristo Stoichkov

Hristo Stoichkov, a Bulgarian former player and one of the finest Bulgarian soccer players of all time, found success both in Europe and the MLS. With CSKA Sofia, Stoichkov won the European Golden Shoe in 1990. Later, joining Barcelona, he secured 13 titles, including the coveted Champions League. In the MLS, Stoichkov continued to shine, winning the U.S. Open Cup with the Chicago Fire in 2000.

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Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole, a former English defender, is remembered for his prowess on the field during his time at Chelsea and Arsenal in the Premier League. As part of Arsenal’s “Invincibles” team, Cole played an integral role in the club’s undefeated season. He also experienced success with Chelsea, winning the Champions League. In 2016, Cole joined LA Galaxy, leaving a lasting impact on the MLS.

Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan, a former American player, holds numerous records in the MLS. With a record-breaking six MLS Cups and being the league’s all-time top assister, Donovan’s contribution to the sport is unmatched. The league even renamed the MVP award in his honor. Donovan’s accolades and records solidify his status as one of the greatest players in MLS history.

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez, also known as Chicharito, made a name for himself with clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid before joining LA Galaxy in 2020. With an impressive minutes-per-goal ratio in the Premier League and the title of Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer, Chicharito’s impact on the sport is undeniable.

Lorenzo Insigne

Lorenzo Insigne’s shock move to Major League Soccer outfit Toronto FC in the summer of 2022 made headlines worldwide. As an electric winger, Insigne played a pivotal role in Napoli’s success and the Italian national team’s triumph in the 2020 Euro. His move to Toronto at the peak of his career was a significant coup for MLS.

Lothar Matthaus

Lothar Matthaus, a former German player, captained his team to victory in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, solidifying his place as one of the sport’s greats. Matthaus played in five different World Cups and is regarded by the legendary Diego Maradona as his greatest rival. His presence in the MLS with the Metrostars in 2000 added more star power to the league.

Alessandro Nesta

Alessandro Nesta, an accomplished Italian defender, is widely considered one of the best defenders of all time. With a World Cup victory in 2006 and multiple UEFA Team of the Year selections, Nesta’s impact on the sport is undeniable. His move to Montreal Impact in 2012 further enhanced the MLS’s reputation.

Gonzalo Higuain

Gonzalo Higuain, a former Argentine striker, has made a name for himself as a prolific goalscorer. With successful stints at Real Madrid, Napoli, and Juventus, Higuain’s move to Inter Miami in 2020 attracted attention. Despite experiencing some initial challenges, Higuain played a pivotal role in Inter Miami’s run to the playoffs in 2022.

Carlos Valderrama

Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama, known for his iconic hairstyle, is considered Colombia’s greatest ever player. Valderrama’s exceptional skills and performances earned him the South American Footballer of the Year award multiple times. His arrival in the MLS with Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996 showcased his talent to a broader audience.

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Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard, an iconic English player, is hailed as one of the greatest players of his generation. Known for his heroic performance in the Champions League final in 2005, Gerrard’s versatility and ability to score in crucial moments set him apart. During his time with LA Galaxy, Gerrard exhibited the same commitment and leadership that made him a legend at Liverpool.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Bastian Schweinsteiger, a former German midfielder, is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time. With numerous titles, including the UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup, Schweinsteiger’s impact on the sport is undeniable. His move to Chicago Fire in 2017 allowed fans in the MLS to witness his exceptional skills firsthand.

Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard, an English player, is considered one of Chelsea’s best ever players and a midfield maestro. With an impressive goal-scoring record, Lampard left an indelible mark on the Premier League. His move to New York City FC in 2015 allowed MLS fans to witness his exceptional talent before his retirement.

David Villa

David Villa, a former Spanish player, is regarded as the best Spanish striker of all time. With a UEFA Champions League victory and multiple records to his name, Villa’s impact on the sport cannot be overstated. During his time with New York City FC, Villa became the club’s all-time top scorer, further cementing his status as a soccer legend.

Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba, a former Ivorian striker, is known for his remarkable goal-scoring ability. Drogba’s time with Montreal Impact, where he scored 21 goals in 33 games, showcased his talent to MLS fans. His success with Chelsea, including a Champions League triumph, solidifies his status as one of the best African players of all time.

Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo, a former Italian player, is revered for his skill and creativity. With a World Cup victory and numerous trophies to his name, Pirlo’s impact on the sport is unquestionable. During his time with NYCFC, Pirlo continued to dazzle fans with his exceptional passing and vision.


Kaka, a former Brazilian player, is considered one of the best players of his generation. With a World Cup victory, Champions League triumph, and Ballon d’Or award, Kaka’s resume speaks for itself. His time with Orlando City helped elevate the MLS’s reputation, further establishing its place on the global soccer stage.

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale’s move to LAFC generated significant buzz due to his fame and talent. The Welsh winger, known for his world-class performances, helped Real Madrid win multiple UEFA Champions League titles. His short tenure in the MLS before retiring after the Qatar 2022 World Cup made a lasting impact on the league.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, an exceptionally talented player, boasts an impressive goal-scoring record and has scored in the last four decades. During his time with LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic’s incredible games-to-goal ratio astounded fans. With multiple Ballon d’Or nominations and memorable goals to his name, Ibrahimovic solidified his place among soccer’s elite.

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Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney, an English legend, holds the distinction of being the top goalscorer for both Manchester United and the England national team. Rooney’s prolific goalscoring record in the Premier League further enhances his status as one of the sport’s greats. His time with D.C. United showcased his exceptional talent to MLS fans.

Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry, a former French striker, is widely regarded as the greatest player in the history of the Premier League. Known for his speed, agility, and impressive goal-scoring ability, Henry left an indelible mark on the sport. During his time with the New York Red Bulls, Henry continued to showcase his exceptional skills, winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2013.

David Beckham

David Beckham, a global icon, is one of the most famous players in MLS history. Beckham’s successful career with clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid made him a household name worldwide. His move to LA Galaxy in 2007 helped transform the perception of the MLS and attract global attention to the league. Beckham’s continued involvement in the MLS as the owner of Inter Miami FC further solidifies his impact on the sport.


Q: How has Lionel Messi’s arrival impacted the MLS?

A: Lionel Messi’s arrival in the MLS has generated unprecedented excitement and interest in the league. Fans eagerly anticipate watching the greatest player of all time compete on American soil, resulting in increased attendance, merchandise sales, and overall buzz around the league.

Q: Are there any other notable players who have made an impact on the MLS?

A: Yes, the MLS has seen the likes of Clint Dempsey, Carlos Vela, Hristo Stoichkov, and others leave a lasting impact on the league. Each of these players brought their unique talents and accomplishments to MLS clubs, further elevating the league’s reputation.

Q: Who is considered the greatest player in MLS history?

A: While opinions may vary, players like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan, and Carlos Valderrama are often regarded as some of the greatest players in MLS history. Their contributions both on and off the field have shaped the league and increased its popularity.


The MLS has had its fair share of iconic players who have left an indelible mark on the league. From Lionel Messi’s historic arrival to the contributions of legends like David Beckham and Thierry Henry, these players have elevated the stature of the MLS on the global soccer stage. As the league continues to attract top talent, the future holds even more promise for the MLS and soccer enthusiasts around the world.

For more information and the latest updates on the MLS and its iconic players, visit Pesstatsdatabase.