With Wayne Rooney earning plaudits since his move to MLS last year, the focus has once again shifted to English players making their living across the Atlantic.
However, the former Manchester United star is not the first English player to take MLS by storm. Ever since the days of David Beckham, MLS has become a huge attraction for English players. Over the course of MLS’ existence, multiple Englishmen have made a name for themselves, and in this feature, we are going to take a look at top nine Englishmen to make it big across the Atlantic. And if you think you can spot the next big star in the US, read this new guide to bet on the MLS to make sure you know all you need to know about the different opportunities available to you.
9. Ashley Cole (LA Galaxy)
Arguably, Ashley Cole is the best left-back to come out of England during the Premier League era. Cole won almost every possible accolade during his time with Arsenal and Chelsea. Following a small stint at AS Roma, the former England international joined LA Galaxy in 2016. He spent three seasons in MLS and was a regular for his side making 89 appearances in total. He even captained his side during the 2018 season.
Cole couldn’t win any silverware with LA Galaxy, but he made enough of an impact to make our list.
8. Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy)
Just like Beckham, Steven Gerrard made huge waves when he decided to sign for MLS side LA Galaxy in 2015. However, his impact was very limited as compared to Beckham’s and his spell lasted only a couple of seasons. During his time in the US, the LA side made it to the playoffs for consecutive seasons, but they got eliminated in playoffs on both occasions.
He hung up his boots in November 2016, citing adjustments problems with travelling distances for away games in the MLS and the diverse weather across the country. Regardless, he is one of the most famous English players to have played in the MLS.
7. Darren Huckerby (San Jose Earthquakes)
During his heydays, Darren Huckerby represented the likes of Newcastle United, Coventry City, Leeds United, Manchester City and Norwich City in Premier League. He joined San Jose Earthquakes in 2008 and made an immediate impact. At the age of 32, he was adjudged MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2008. Huckerby also attracted headlines because of his viral interview on American sports channel Kron TV.
However, his adventure in the MLS was cut short due to a hip injury and he retired from professional football in 2009.
6. Terry Cooke (Colorado Rapids)
Terry Cooke was a product of the Manchester United youth academy, but he could never carve out space for himself in the English football. After rather unsuccessful spells with both Manchester clubs and Sheffield Wednesday, he decided to cross the Atlantic and join Rapids in 2005. In 2008, he famously captained his side to a 4-0 win over David Beckham’s LA Galaxy. Cooke scored a goal and provided two assists in the win and was subsequently awarded MLS Player of the Week award.
His four-year spell at Colorado Rapids was arguably the most stable period of his career as he made more than 100 appearances for the club.
5. Danny Dichio (Toronto FC)
After playing for QPR, Sunderland, West Brom amongst other English sides, Dichio joined the newly formed Toronto FC in 2007. He assumed the cult status at the club by scoring their first-ever goal. Because of this, his name is still sung by the Toronto FC fans.
Dichio spent three seasons at Toronto FC before retiring from football in 2009. He scored a total of 14 goals in 59 appearances.
4. Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers)
Fans of the English football would know Ridgewell from his time at Midlands side Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich. He enjoyed quite a successful career in English football before joining Portland Timbers in 2014.
His time with Portland proved to be successful as well as he captained them to the MLS Cup win in 2015. He was also a part of the Portland side that lost the MLS Cup final to Atlanta United FC in 2018. It proved to be his last match for the Timbers as both parties mutually parted ways in January 2019.
3. Wayne Rooney (DC United)
Wayne Rooney hasn’t spent much time in the MLS, and he has already agreed to join Derby County at the end of the year. One might say that he hasn’t spent much time to feature this high on our list. However, in our defence, Rooney took the league by storm last season. He single-handedly guided DC United to the playoffs, and his impact was something like never seen before.
He scored 12 goals in 21 appearances in his first season to win the MVP and the Golden Boot award for FC United. Overall, he has scored 23 goals in 44 appearances, making him one of the most prolific English goal-scorers in the MLS history.
2. David Beckham (LA Galaxy)
David Beckham’s impact on MLS can’t be understated. He was the first famous football player to join the MLS under the designated player rule, and he single-handedly put the league on the global map. During his six seasons with LA Galaxy, he won a couple of MLS Cups. However, his off-pitch impact was far greater and do a lot of goof for the popularity of soccer in the US.
Even after retiring from football, Beckham is an important figure in the MLS as he owns Inter Miami FC, who will be making their debut in MLS in 2020.
1. Bradley Wright-Phillips (NY Red Bulls)
Bradley, son of famous striker Ian Wright and younger brother of Shaun Wright-Phillips, is a product of Manchester City academy. He spent the majority of his initial career in the lower leagues of English football. He joined NY Red Bulls in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. He is not only the best Englishman to have played in MLS, but his contributions on the pitch put him among the greats of the league.
He has won three Supporters’ Shield, a couple of MLS Golden Boots, three Red Bulls MVP awards and many more accolades in the US. His 108 goals in 180 MLS appearances make him the highest-scoring Englishman in the league. And we don’t see that record breaking anytime soon.