Biggest English Players to Play in the MLS – all time


In this article, we will look at the top five most prominent English players who have played in MLS and their impact on American soccer culture. We will also discuss how they have contributed to American soccer and whether this trend is likely to continue for future generations.

But before delving into that, let us take a brief trip down memory lane and explore how MLS came to existence.

The birth of MLS can be traced back to 1988, when FIFA awarded the United States the right to host the 1994 World Cup. The tournament was successful beyond expectations, drawing huge crowds and generating massive interest in soccer across America. However, after the event ended, enthusiasm dwindled, leaving many wondering what would become of soccer in America.

Enter Alan Rothenberg – then President of U.S. Soccer – who proposed an idea for a professional league to help sustain soccer interest beyond World Cups. In 1996, MLS was inaugurated with ten teams dispersed across various states, an accomplishment that reflected his visionary aspirations.

Subsequently, the league has witnessed a steady growth in popularity among fans and garnered the interest of skilled players worldwide.

A notable cohort of players who have significantly contributed to American soccer is English footballers renowned for their on-field prowess. So without further ado, let’s examine each one more closely.

Top 5 Biggest English Players to Play in the MLS

1. David Beckham

Recognized as one of the most renowned names in soccer history, David Beckham’s legacy speaks for itself. Having played for prominent clubs such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, he also served as England’s national team captain.

In 2007, when L.A. Galaxy signed him as a marquee player, the American audience was intrigued to witness his performance on their soil – and he didn’t disappoint. During his six-year tenure with L.A. Galaxy, he won two MLS Cups while becoming an iconic face of the league.

Beckham’s arrival revolutionized soccer in America by raising its profile and inspiring young players to strive toward greatness. He remains a game-changer who made an indelible impact on the sport at a global level.

2. Wayne Rooney

Hailing from England, Wayne Rooney is a football icon who left his mark on the MLS. Having played for esteemed teams such as Manchester United and Everton, he signed up with D.C. United in 2018.

Rooney’s arrival at D.C. United marked an instant turning point for the team as they went from the bottom of the table to qualifying for playoffs within a season. His veteran leadership qualities and expertise played a crucial role in D.C. United’s success, making him one of their key signings.

3. Ashley Cole

Another notable English footballer who made his presence felt while playing for L.A. Galaxy between 2016-2018 was Ashley Cole. With Arsenal and Chelsea among his previous teams, Cole’s inclusion strengthened L.A. Galaxy’s defense, giving them stability and experience and contributing to their fifth MLS Cup win.

4. Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard joined New York City F.C. as their designated player in 2015 after leaving Premier League giants Chelsea FC where he spent thirteen years of his career as one of its greatest midfielders ever.

During his time at NYCFC, being named captain early on by head coach Patrick Vieira Lampard tallied up some impressive numbers:

  • Scoring twelve goals from midfield while providing four assists that year alone.
  • Helping NYC reach playoffs for their very first time.
  • Ultimately cementing himself as part of the New York City Football Club history books forever.

5. Jermain Defoe

Jermain Defoe may have only spent one season playing for Toronto F.C., but it was enough time to make a lasting impression on Canadian soccer fans everywhere. He was instrumental in taking Toronto F.C. to Eastern Conference Finals, even though they lost that game eventually. In addition, Defoe helped Toronto score critical goals throughout that season, ultimately leading them toward victory each time he found himself on-pitch.

Together, these five English players have had a massive impact on Major League Soccer, individually and collectively, by raising interest levels in the U.S. Soccer industry.

Impact and Legacy of English Players in MLS

English players have left an indelible mark on Major League Soccer (MLS) since its inception in 1996, raising the profile of American soccer both domestically and globally. The influx of English players into the MLS has brought about a remarkable change, not just in terms of play quality but also in nurturing a fresh wave of aspiring American talent. The impact these players have had on inspiring young generations is noteworthy as they bring an abundance of experience from playing at the topmost level. In addition, their experiences provide invaluable insights into what it takes to succeed as a professional footballer, thus aiding young Americans looking to build careers in soccer.

Moreover, the style of play these English players have introduced has positively influenced the MLS. Known for their technical ability, clever positioning, and exceptional vision on-field, they complemented their teammates’ athleticism and tenacity to create beautiful moments during games that fans appreciate.

Additionally, English players have helped raise interest levels in MLS within North America and abroad through increased media attention around the league. The star power generated by names like David Beckham or Wayne Rooney captivates audiences globally, bringing more eyeballs to American soccer than ever before.

Moreover, English players continue to impact off-field by sharing stories about what they’ve learned while playing professionally at various stages throughout their careers – from Lampard’s discipline to Rooney’s determination – inspiring future generations pursuing similar paths toward success.

In conclusion, it is clear that English players have played a vital role in shaping MLS over time. As we look towards the future of the American soccer industry, it is safe bet that other teams consistently followed suit trying to add star-studded names across different positions.This raises the competition level and helps grow interested in this growing market. Thanks mainly to these talented individuals who came from the U.K., America could finally stake its claim as one top globally, attracting even more talent from diverse backgrounds worldwide, which can further enrich the cultural heritage of sport.

Challenges faced by English players when playing Internationally

Participating in an international team poses a significant challenge, particularly for English players brought up with a distinct football culture. One of the primary difficulties they face is adapting to their teammates’ diverse playing styles and tactics from various nations. For instance, several MLS teams are overwhelmingly influenced by South American football styles that can clash with conventional English approaches.

Furthermore, acclimating to new settings and adjusting to life in America presents another hurdle for English players. This includes coping with the demands of traveling long distances across multiple time zones, unfamiliar playing conditions such as artificial turf pitches or hot weather, and cultural differences off the pitch.

Language barriers can also pose a problem for some English players when communicating with non-English speaking teammates or coaches. Although most professional footballers are proficient in English, it is common for misunderstandings or miscommunications to occur due to language nuances or local expressions.

Furthermore, MLS has unique rules and regulations that differ from those found in England’s Premier League. For example, the salary cap system limits how much teams can pay players, while roster restrictions mean that squads cannot be as large as they are in Europe.

Finally, there is often pressure on English players to justify their high salaries compared to their American counterparts. Fans expect them to perform at a higher level than domestic players despite not being familiar with local conditions or having prior experience playing in MLS.

In conclusion, while playing for an international team offers exciting opportunities for English players such as experiencing different cultures and playing styles, it also comes with its own set of challenges that must be overcome through adaptability and perseverance.

The significance of these players for the U.S. Soccer industry

The impact of notable players on the U.S. soccer industry cannot be understated, both in terms of their contributions on and off the pitch. Among these icons, David Beckham stands out for his pivotal role in elevating Major League Soccer (MLS) to a higher level of competitiveness and international recognition. Beckham’s arrival in 2007 ignited a sea change for MLS as he introduced a new level of talent, prestige and experience that enticed many other star players to join him in the league.

Wayne Rooney for example, his presence greatly enhanced the quality of play and generated more interest among fans, helping boost ticket sales and T.V. ratings. Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe also played important roles during their time in MLS. They brought a wealth of experience from playing at top clubs in Europe and contributed immensely to elevating the level of play within the league.

Off the field, these players have also played an important role in promoting soccer as a viable career option for young Americans. By sharing their experiences and insights about what it takes to become successful professional soccer players, they have inspired countless young athletes to pursue their dreams.

Moreover, these players’ contributions extend beyond just MLS; they have also helped raise awareness about U.S. soccer globally through their high-profile careers playing for iconic English Premier League teams like Manchester United and Chelsea. Their achievements at club level have demonstrated that American players can hold their own against some of the world’s best talents.

In conclusion, these five players – Beckham, Rooney, Cole Lampard and Defoe – have had significant impacts on U.S. soccer both on and off the pitch. Their contributions to MLS have not only improved the quality of play but also served as inspiration for future generations of American soccer stars looking to make it big globally.