Major League Soccer

The best American strikers in MLS - ranked

Chris Smith
Ricardo Pepi has enjoyed a breakout season with FC Dallas and is destined for Europe.
Ricardo Pepi has enjoyed a breakout season with FC Dallas and is destined for Europe. / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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Strikers; you can't win much without them but, damn, are good ones hard to find...

The United States Men's National team have felt that pain in recent years, struggling to find a true successor to Jozy Altidore as his career declines through injury.

But things appear to be changing. Right now in Major League Soccer, there are a couple of options that have already caught the eye at club and international level. The future is starting to look bright for USMNT No.9s.

With that in mind, let's rank the best out-and-out American strikers in MLS right now:


10. Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati)

A surprise inclusion from the off. A matter of months ago you'd have laughed at the thought of Brandon Vazquez climbing his way into this list.

However, the 23-year-old has come up with four goals and two assists in his last eight appearances, and if teams pumping five or six goals past the Orange and Blue are going to have "Cincy tax" waved in their face, surely the same applies to those actually managing to score goals for the league's worst team.

In truth, Vazquez is simply making good on the talent he's always had. He has a great physical profile, is good at holding up the ball, and is smart with his runs. A potentially clinical MLS striker is finally starting to emerge.

We should add that Vazquez's goals per 90 now stands at a team-high 0.5 - 0.2 higher than Brenner who, putting it politely, cost a few dollars extra.

9. Mason Toye (CF Montreal)

A shoulder injury has kept him sidelined since August, but prior to that Mason Toye had been on an absolute tear for CF Montreal. The 23-year-old netted seven goals in just 895 minutes at the start of the season, enough to keep him second in the scoring charts for Wilfried Nancy's team, even at this stage.

Toye is a powerful runner and great in the air, but most importantly, he seems to have refined the decision-making and finishing which frustrated so much prior. He can hit you from all angles.

Switching Minnesota for Montreal was the best thing he ever did.

8. Jeremy Ebobisse (San Jose Earthquakes)

Given his general importance to the team and his four goals at the start of the season, it was a huge shock when the Timbers allowed Jeremy Ebobisse to leave for the San Jose Earthquakes.

Injuries have disrupted his start to life somewhat, but we're all aware of his qualities already. Ebobisse is a great presser and is excellent at holding the ball up. He's only really missing the ruthless streak that separates good strikers from great strikers.

7. Rubio Rubin (Real Salt Lake)

Chances are Rubio Rubin will be a Guatemala international soon but for now, he's only trained with Los Chapines and remains a seven-time United States international.

After some tough spells in Europe and Mexico, Rubin has enjoyed something of a career renaissance with Real Salt Lake this season, scoring eight goals in 23 starts while adding a further five assists.

He's unlikely to ever get another call from Gregg Berhalter, but Rubin's pace and movement make him an effective MLS striker at the very least.

6. Brian White (Vancouver Whitecaps)

There's been absolutely no stopping Brian White since he joined the Vancouver Whitecaps earlier this season, with his return now standing at 12 goals and three assists in 25 appearances.

Like Vazquez but on a bigger scale, it feels like White is simply hitting the levels he should be when taking his talent into consideration.

Indeed, he's always been good in the air, has always connected play well, and has always been a willing worker without the ball. Now, with the likes of Ryan Gauld and Cristian Dajome around him, he's started getting the service he needs to score more goals. Goals that might just fire the 'Caps back into the Playoffs at long last.

At 25, there's still time for White to make an impression on Berhalter in some capacity, even if it's just coming into one of the MLS-heavy rosters for friendlies.

5. C.J. Sapong (Nashville SC)

While he's been inconsistent over the years, C.J. Sapong has that important proven ability to score goals at an MLS level without the massive budget cost usually required for a striker.

Nashville have benefited greatly from that in 2021, with Sapong netting 12 times in 32 games so far - a nice amount to compliment MVP candidate Hany Mukhtar.

Sapong is good both in the air and on the ground and though he won't get any more looks with the USMNT, he is a great option in MLS.

4. Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)

As mentioned, Altidore's career has been ruined by injuries in recent years, completely removing him from the national team picture.

But when he's on it, there aren't many strikers in MLS that can tear you apart more ruthlessly or efficiently than him.

Altidore has already scored twice since returning to action in mid-October and if TFC can keep him fit in 2022, there's absolutely no chance they'll be so close to the bottom of the East again. He's that individually important.

3. Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

Gyasi Zardes has taken plenty of stick from national team supporters over the years and, yes, his strike rate for the USMNT isn't the best.

But in terms of a penalty area striker who simply knows how to lose a defender and put the ball in the net, there are few better in MLS. What's more, he has a nice habit of coming out with the odd screamer, too.

Taking Altidore's fitness into account, Zardes remains the best American option among the established veterans and he'll still have a part to play in the demanding surroundings of Concacaf World Cup qualifying.

2. Daryl Dike (Orlando City)

Daryl Dike came out of nowhere to spearhead Orlando City's run into the Playoffs last year and he's not let up in 2021, repeating the exact same feat with Barnsley in the EFL Championship. Nine goals in 21 outings in the English second tier from a player who had barely been a professional for a year is a remarkable achievement.

Dike suffered with some persistent injuries upon his return to Orlando, but he's back fit now and has hit the net nine times in just 1,238 minutes. Just 21, Dike is expected to battle it out with a certain other young American striker for the No.9 jersey in the coming years...

1. Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas)

That man is the one everybody is talking about right now: Ricardo Pepi.

Just 18 years old, Pepi has already caught the eye with 13 MLS goals for a truly terrible FC Dallas outfit, and he's translated that to international level with three goals and two assists in his first four USMNT caps.

As revealed by 90min, Pepi is attracting a huge amount of attention from Europe, with Wolfsburg agreeing on personal terms, Sampdoria making a bid, and the likes of Bayern Munich and Inter in the mix. Pepi himself has handed in a transfer request to get things moving.

He's fast, can finish, is great at linking play, and is already tough enough to mix it with senior pros despite his tender age. Ricardo Pepi is going places.

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