Major League Soccer

The most famous players in MLS history - ranked

Lizzy Becherano
David Beckham stands as one of the most famous players in MLS history
David Beckham stands as one of the most famous players in MLS history / Cliff Hawkins/GettyImages

Several of the sport’s biggest icons have played on the American stage. Major League Soccer has been host to some of the world’s best football players in history, including FIFA World Cup champions and Ballon d’Or winners. 

Here is a list of the top 10 most famous players in league history, ranked.

10. Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney
DC United v Toronto FC - First Round / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney joined Major League Soccer after signing with D.C. United in 2018. He spent two seasons with the club, where he recorded 23 goals and 15 assists in 48 games. 

He stands as the top goalscorer for both Manchester United and England, while earning the second-top scorer in Premier League history.

9. David Villa

David Villa
David Villa playing for New York City FC / Mark Brown/GettyImages

The former FC Barcelona player is considered one of the best Spanish strikers of all time - he's the country’s all-time top scorer with 59 goals after all.

He became NYCFC’s first ever signing in 2014 before going on to record 77 goals and 26 assists in 117 appearances.

8. Kaka

Kaka playing for MLS side Orlando City SC / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Before he joined Orlando City SC, Kaka was one of only eight players to have won the FIFA World Cup, Champions League and Ballon d’Or.

In 2015 he joined Major League Soccer and went on to record 24 goals and 22 assists in 75 appearances.

7. Didier Drogba

Chelsea's French forward Didier Drobga h...
Didier Drogba while playing for Premier League club Chelsea / JOSE JORDAN/GettyImages

The former Ivorian striker stands as the all-time top goalscorer for his country. Before reaching the United States, Drogba had an exceptional career in the Premier League with Chelsea. He quickly rose to stardom after becoming the first player in club history to score a hat-trick in the Champions League. 

He went on to win everything with Chelsea before signing with the Montreal Impact in 2015. While playing in Major League Soccer, Drogba scored 21 goals in 33 games.

6. Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard playing for New York City FC / Michael Stewart/GettyImages

Former Chelsea player turned manager spent 13 years with the club to become the all-time leading goalscorer 211 goals. He stands as the only Premier League midfielder to have scored more than 150 goals. 

Before retiring, the iconic midfielder made his way to New York City FC, where he scored 15 goals in 29 games.

5. Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard playing for LA Galaxy after leaving Liverpool FC / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

Steven Gerrard famously left boyhood club Liverpool to play for MLS side LA Galaxy in 2015. The world renowned player is England’s fourth most capped footballer and holds the record for most matches as Liverpool captain with 573. 

The current Rangers manager recorded five goals and 14 assists in 34 matches for the Galaxy before announcing his official retirement.

4. Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo for NYCFC in 2015 / Noam Galai/GettyImages

One of Italy’s best, Andrea Pirlo lifted two Champions League trophies with AC Milan before heading over to MLS side NYCFC in 2015. He won six Serie A league titles, twice with Milan and four times with Juventus. Internationally, he inspired Italy to triumph in the 2006 World Cup. 

After his arrival to the United States, Pirlo became a leader for the New York side. Beyond his one goal and 18 assists, he shaped the younger generation too.

3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the Los Angeles Galaxy v Los Angeles FC - Western Conference Semifinals / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

The Swedish player became one of the league’s biggest signings when he joined LA Galaxy in 2018. Beyond his famous post-match comments, Ibrahimovic was a star in the league and recorded 52 goals and 17 assists in 56 games. 

Before Major League Soccer, Ibrahimovic won 11 league titles in four separate countries while representing Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Ajax Amsterdam, AC Milan and Inter. 

Overall, he has scored 421 goals for club, 62 goals for the Swedish national and tallied 159 assists in 730 club games.

2. Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry playing for the New York Red Bulls / Jim Rogash/GettyImages

Thierry Henry famously joined the New York Red Bulls in 2010 before going on to score 51 goals in 122 games. He was also as a four-time MLS All-Star and three-time MLS Best XI. Prior to signing for the New York-based team, he lifted the FIFA World Cup trophy with France and won the Premier League Golden Boot on four occasions. 

After a successful career as a player, Henry returned to Major League Soccer as the head coach for the Montreal Impact in 2019.

1. David Beckham

David Beckham
David Beckham playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2012 / Harry How/GettyImages

David Beckham, without doubt, the most famous player in Major League Soccer history. After succeeding in Manchester United and Real Madrid, the English player made his way to the United States to play for LA Galaxy. 

With the LA-based team, Beckham won two MLS Cups and two Supporters’ Shields. Now, he continues to impact the league as a co-owner of the South Florida expansion team Inter Miami.