Five Greatest English Born Players in MLS History


By K.C. Weldon

Major League Soccer has a lot to thank England for. After all, it’s credited with birthplace of soccer – sorry, football – itself, and if it wasn’t for the influence of our cousins across the Atlantic, maybe we wouldn’t have a professional soccer league in the States at all.

But another reason that England has helped soccer gained traction in the US is down to the number of big-name English players who have plied their trade on American soil.

In the wake of England’s friendly with the USA at Wembley, what better time to count down those who have made the most impact.

wayne rooney

Here’s our countdown of the top five English players in MLS history:

5. Wayne Rooney

In the 22-year-history of the MLS, many English-born players have starred in the league and some of them have been global superstars of the game, including Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and the man who is currently firing for DC United, Wayne Rooney.

While Gerrard and Lampard miss out on our top five, Rooney just makes the list for his heroic contribution in turning DC United’s fortunes around since he arrived at the club. In his first MLS season, the 33-year-old scored eighteen goals and added seven assists as the Black-and-Red finished 4th in the Eastern Conference and secured a play-off spot.

An agonizing penalty shoot-out defeat to Columbus Crew may have denied DC a fairy-tale MLS Cup ending, but if Rooney remains in Washington for a number of years they will be able to build on their impressive 2018 and Rooney will climb higher on this list.

wayne rooney

4. Liam Ridgewell

There may have been many big name English imports who have featured in this league, but amongst the best Englishmen to compete in this MLS are those who are lesser known to the general public.

Liam Ridgewell perhaps fits that description, but the veteran defender has no doubt been one of the most successful Englishmen to ever play in this league. Ridgewell joined the Timbers in 2014 and remains crucial to Portland’s defense, currently as the team’s captain.

Ridgewell’s Premier League experience was also vital at the back as Portland won the MLS Cup in 2015. In total he has made 109 appearances for the Timbers, scoring seven goals.

3. Dom Dwyer

After a catalogue of injuries Dom Dwyer’s hopes of a career in English football looked to be dashed, but instead of giving up, as a 19-year-old he managed to earn a college scholarship at Tyler in Texas, before being drafted into the MLS.

Since then Dwyer has gone from strength to strength, scoring 57 goals in 128 appearances at Sporting Kansas City before a permanent move to Orlando, where the forward currently totals an impressive 31 in 44.

david beckham

2. David Beckham

No list of English exports in the MLS would be complete without the Brit who put the league on the map, but Beckham doesn’t quite make the top spot.

Becks was the first player to be brought into the MLS under the designated player rule in 2007 and would enjoy a six-year spell at LA Galaxy, reaching three MLS Cup finals and winning back-to-back titles in his final two years at the club. He scored 20 goals and made an incredible 48 assists in total for the Galaxy, but it’s his impact off the pitch in America that was most noteworthy.


1. Bradley Wright-Phillips

Only one man can keep Beckham from top spot on this list and that is New York Red Bulls legend Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Since moving Stateside in 2013, Bradley has emerged from the shadow of his older brother Shaun, scoring 124 goals in 209 total appearances for the Red Bulls and firing them to three Supporters’ Shield titles. Wright-Phillips also became the first two-time MLS Golden Boot Winner. The Red Bulls are currently 11/4 with sites like to lift the MLS Cup  this season, ahead of their finals matches with Atlanta United at the end of this month.

Not only the greatest English player in MLS history, BWP is in the conversation for greatest MLS player of all time.

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