20 Best MLS Transfers from European Clubs | Soofootball

20 Best MLS Transfers from European Clubs

Best MLS Transfers From European Clubs

Last Updated on July 25, 2021

The popularity of Major League Soccer in the United States has certainly grown leaps and bounds over the past two decades. Many of the Best MLS transfers are from top European Clubs.

It’s been clear that high-profile player transfers from some of Europe’s biggest football clubs sparked an increase in the competition’s media coverage, not to mention the new audience influx that happened in 2007 when David Beckham signed for Los Angeles Galaxy.

In this article, I will rank the top 20 Major League Soccer transfers from European clubs. By the way, my name Samuel Waihenya – the founder of a football-based blog called Index Scholar – and a Guest Contributor on Soofootball.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

20. Jozy Altidore

Offloaded by Sunderland in 2015 after contributing just 3 goals in 52 appearances for the Premier League side, Altidore has successfully managed to restore his reputation as a fairly reliable striker.

He’s racked up more than 50 goals for Toronto FC so far and at 31 years of age, he still has a few more years of football left to improve that tally.

In the end, Altidore’s move to Toronto FC proved to be one of the best MLS transfers from European clubs.

MLS Honours: 

  • MLS All-Star – 2015, 2017
  • 2017 MLS Cup Most Valuable Player Award

Consider Reading: The Most Successful American Soccer Players Ever.

19. Wayne Rooney

Now some of you might be quite surprised as to why the long-time English veteran makes the list of Best MLS Transfers from European Clubs.

Well, he was instrumental for D.C. United once signed from his boyhood club Everton, as he managed to net 23 goals and 15 assists in 48 appearances.

Take a look at this incredibly executed tackle and winning goal setup against Orlando in stoppage time:

Prior to his arrival, D.C. United had the unenviable statistical title of being the worst side in the league, with a 2-7-5 win-draw-loss record. 

For a declining midfielder at the tail end of his playing career – Rooney was able to dramatically transform the team’s on-pitch fortunes as they secured a first playoff berth since 2015.

The Manchester United legend was able to show everyone in the United States that he still had the magic touch.

On the flip side, Rooney prefers Messi to his former teammate – Ronaldo.

Major League Soccer Honors: 

  • 2018 MLS Best XI
  • 2019 MLS All-Star

18. Alejandro Pozuelo

For Toronto Football Club, replacing the departed Sebastian Giovinco was a tall order.

But Pozuelo – signed from Belgian side Genk for a sum of 9 million euros – has done exceptionally well at filling up that void.

The Spanish creative midfielder hit the ground running from day one by finishing the 2019 season as his team’s top scorer in the regular season with 12 goals, whilst also providing 12 assists in equal measure.

In the following year, he netted 9 goals and 10 assists and drove his side to claim the title second-best record in the regular season.

Pozuelo may not be so popular in Europe but he is certainly famous enough to feature in the list of Best MLS transfers from European clubs.

Major League Soccer Honors: 

  • 2020 Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player Award
  • MLS Best XI – 2019, 2020

17. Brad Guzan

The only goalkeeper to make this list is the man called Guzan.

He played for a number of Premier League teams including Aston Villa, Hull City, and Middlesbrough, although he is more likely to be fondly remembered for his time at Atlanta United.

During the 2017 season, he posted 8 clean sheets in 14 games as well as led the entire league in save percentage figures (79.2%) that year.

Most importantly, however, his goalkeeper gloves were pivotal in Atlanta’s 2-0 MLS Cup final win over the Portland Timbers in 2018.

MLS Honours: 

  • 2007 MLS Best XI 
  • 2007 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year
  • The MLS All-Star – 2018, 2019

16. Bradley Wright-Phillips

It must be said that the lesser-known of the two Wright-Phillips brothers has forged out a decent career for himself.

Being in the shadow of his legendary father, Ian Wright, as well as his brother Shaun who managed to play for Manchester City and get capped for the England national team was no doubt difficult to endure.

But Bradley has certainly bloomed late, having notched a massive 108 goals in 195 matches for the New York Red Bulls, after making the transfer from Charlton Athletic in 2013.

The lad also played a big role in leading the club to 2 MLS Supporters Shield trophies – an annual award handed out to the MLS team with the best regular-season record by way of points accrued.

Anyway, as relatively unknown as Bradley may be, features as one of the Best MLS Transfers from European clubs.

MLS Honours: 

  • MLS Golden Boot – 2014, 2016
  • The MLS Best XI – 2014, 2016
  • MLS All-Star – 2014, 2018
  • 2020 MLS Comeback Player of the Year

Read Also: MLS vs Premier League Comparison in Detail

15. Clint Dempsey

In case you do not know, Clint Dempsey is one of the best Americans to ever play in the Premier League.

Dempsey was one of the players that put America on the map as a country that produces talented footballers who can compete at the highest level within European competition.

Heralded as one of the United States’ greatest ever football talents, he had an eventful 5-year stint at London club Fulham from 2007 to 2012, before plying his trade with Tottenham Hotspur for a solitary season.

After that, he returned to the MLS – having initially represented New England Revolution from 2004 to 2006 – and made fantastic headway with the Seattle Sounders, recording a decent 47 goals in 115 professional appearances.

Major League Soccer Honors: 

  • 2004 MLS Rookie of the Year
  • 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year
  • MLS All-Star – 2005, 2014, 2015, 2016

14. Thierry Henry

Many good things can be said about Thierry Henry that I wouldn’t be able to fit it all in ten pages of paper!

So, I’ll keep things brief.

First, we all know he’s an Arsenal Legend and he is one of the few players who have Statutes built in their honor.

The Frenchman joined the New York Red Bulls in 2010 after spending the majority of his prime years representing Arsenal and Barcelona. Eventually, his move turns out one of the Best MLS Transfers.

The 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner was able to muster 51 goals over the course of 5 seasons, which is quite a respectable tally for a player that was seeing out the final years of his football career.

MLS Honours:

  • The MLS Best XI – 2011, 2012, 2014
  • MLS All-Star – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

13. David Villa

The Spaniard is most famously known for being La Roja’s all-time record goalscorer with 59 goals in 98 international appearances, along with his prolific goalscoring stints at La Liga sides Valencia and Barcelona. 

Villa joined New York City Football Club in 2014 on a free transfer from Atletico Madrid and went on to score 80 times in 124 appearances for them over the span of four years.

He left his mark on a team that was newly formed by helping to solidify their place as the second major soccer club within the New York area and as one of the best in the division.

MLS Honours: 

  • 2016 MLS Most Valuable Player
  • MLS Best XI – 2016, 2017
  • The MLS All-Star – 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

12. Josef Martinez

Here we have a Venezuelan-born talisman who bangs in the goals with alarming regularity for Atlanta United.

Signed from Italian side Torino in 2014, he’s gone on to achieve the most hattricks in the league with a tally of 6, not to mention breaking records for most goals in the regular and postseason, along with 15 consecutive goal-scoring games which are the highest in MLS history.

At 28 years of age, the forward still has some time to get more goals under his belt due to theoretically being at the peak of his powers.

Major League Soccer Honors: 

  • 2018 MLS Most Valuable Player
  • MLS Best XI – 2017, 2018, 2019
  • The MLS All-Star – 2018, 2019
  • 2018 MLS Golden Boot 
  • 2018 MLS Cup Most Valuable Player 
  • 2019 MLS Goal of the Year

11. Carlos Vela

If you’ve followed the sport for some time, you will be aware that Vela was heralded as one of the finest young talents from as early as 2005. 

Vela joined Los Angeles Football Club from the Spanish side Real Sociedad in 2018, and the Mexican has had a profound impact having notched 34 goals in as many games in 2019.

He also broke the single-season record for combined goals and assists, plus at the time of writing, he stands at 52 goals in 71 appearances for the American team which is remarkable.

MLS Honours: 

  • 2019 MLS Most Valuable Player
  • 2019 MLS Golden Boot
  • MLS Best XI – 2018, 2019
  • The MLS All-Star – 2018, 2019

10. Predrag Radosavljević

Rolling back the years is the former Kansas City Wizards and Miami Fusion midfielder commonly known as Preki.

He was there when the MLS started in 1996, having joined from former English Premier League side Portsmouth. 

And during his playing career in the United States, he managed a total of 242 games with 79 goals scored and 112 assists laid off for teammates.

The Serbian-American also comes in at 5th place on the charts for all-time assists within the league’s history.

Major League Soccer Honors: 

Best MLS Signings from europe

9. Sebastian Giovinco

One of the greatest lessons that life has to offer relates to never giving up despite various setbacks or disappointments.

The general consensus in the footballing world is that Giovinco was a player who floundered in Europe, having played for Italian side Juventus and failing to impress on many occasions.

A move abroad from Italy to the United States rejuvenated his career, as he became Toronto FC’s top goalscorer with a tally of 68 goals in 114 matches for the club.

In addition to this, he holds the title of the first player to score more than 20 goals and provide more than 10 assists in a single MLS campaign.

MLS Honours: 

  • The MLS All-Star – 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 
  • MLS Best XI – 2015, 2016, 2017
  • 2015 MLS Most Valuable Player Award
  • 2015 MLS Golden Boot
  • The 2015 MLS Top Assist Provider
  • 2015 MLS Newcomer of the Year Award

8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Although Ibrahimovic is one of the top players who never won the Champions League, he is one of the best Strikers in Football.

Lots of people working within football are likely to have an interesting story about the Swedish striker.

His infectious winning mentality was clear for all to see during his time in the MLS.

Coming off of a horrific anterior cruciate ligament injury that he received whilst playing for Manchester United, the Swede defied the odds. At the age of 36 to spearhead an LA Galaxy team on the pitch with a staggering 52 goals in 56 games.

Major League Soccer Honors: 

  • The MLS All-Star – 2018, 2019
  • MLS Best XI – 2018, 2019
  • 2018 MLS Newcomer of the Year
  • 2018 MLS Goal of the Year
  • 2020 MLS Greatest Goal

7. Taylor Twellman

Twellman came from the reserve team of TSV 1860 Munich in the city of Bavaria, Germany. He is one of the most unlikeliest Best MLS transfers.

He had a fantastic career with New England Revolution from 2002 to 2010 before his career was tragically cut short by a neck injury and concussions, racking up 101 goals in a total of 174 appearances.

That tally puts him in 10th on the all-time list of MLS scorers.

MLS Honours: 

  • 2005 Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player
  • 2005 MLS Golden Boot
  • MLS Best XI – 2002, 2005

6. David Beckham

The free-kick maestro made the move to America with his highly publicized transfer to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007. This move turned out one of the best MLS Transfers, however, the majority of his sporting impact took place off the field.

He arguably changed the whole trajectory of American soccer as legislation such as the designated player rule – designed to allow teams to sign a total of three players on salaries outside of the team’s own cap – was put in place to make the league more competitive in the international transfer market.

On the pitch, the former England captain won 2 MLS Cups and 2 MLS Supporters Shield trophies during his 5-year stint.

MLS Honours: 

5. Dwayne De Rosario

Here is the definition of an impact player. Rosario lit up the MLS and became the best MLS transfer during his time.

Coming from a small team called FSV Zwickau in Germany, De Rosario started off with the Richmond Kickers and the San Jose Earthquakes, prior to becoming an instrumental figure in the Houston Dynamo’s two-time MLS cup success.

More so, the Canadian’s name is high on the list of all-time goal scorers within the division, as he comes in 8th place with 104 goals to his credit.

He was also the opposite of a one-club man, having played for five different MLS clubs during the span of his professional football career.

Major League Soccer Honors: 

  • MLS All-Star – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • The MLS Best XI – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Most Valuable Player Award
  • 2011 MLS Golden Boot
  • MLS Goal of the Year Award – 2004, 2005

4. Jaime Moreno

Leaving Middlesbrough in 1996 for D.C. United turned out to be a career masterstroke for the now-retired Bolivian forward.

He’s currently recognized as the fourth-highest MLS all-time leading scorer with 133 goals and helped D.C. to pretty much every trophy that they have won throughout their professional soccer existence.

Enough said.

MLS Honours: 

  • MLS Best XI – 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006
  • 1997 MLS Cup Most Valuable Player
  • 2021 National Soccer Hall of Fame

3. Robbie Keane

The Irishman joined LA Galaxy from Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in 2011 and formed one of the greatest forward partnerships that the MLS has ever seen.

With Landon Donovan and David Beckham able to regularly link up with him on the field, Keane went on to record 83 goals in 125 appearances for the American side.

He also topped up his trophy cabinet with 3 MLS Cup wins during his time there.

Robbie Keane is well worthy of being one of the Best MLS transfers from European clubs.

Major League Soccer Honors: 

  • MLS Best XI – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • 2014 MLS Most Valuable Player
  • 2014 MLS Cup Most Valuable Player
  • 2015 MLS All-Star

2.  Jeff Agoos

Goalkeepers love to have a calming presence leading the backline, and that’s the sort of defender that Jeff Agoos was during his playing career.

Signed by D.C. United from German side SV Wehen, the Swiss-born player led D.C. to multiple MLS Cup wins and when he later transferred over to the San Jose Earthquakes, he won another 2 MLS Cups with them before deciding to call his time on the game in 2005.

His list of accolades is seriously outstanding.

MLS Honours: 

  • The MLS 25 Greatest
  • MLS Best XI – 1997, 1999, 2001
  • 2001 MLS Defender of the Year Award
  • MLS All-Time Best XI
  • National Soccer Hall of Fame – 2009 Inductee

1. Landon Donovan

Finally, we have Mr. MLS himself, the great Landon Donovan! He sits top of our Best MLS transfers.

His career started without much fanfare over at Bayer Leverkusen, and it was only until his move to LA Galaxy in 2005 that things really took off for the former USMNT international.

Donovan ranks 2nd on the MLS all-time scorers list with a total of 145 successful strikes, and he leads the all-time assist charts too.

In fact, here’s a great compilation of his top 10 goals for LA Galaxy:

Major League Soccer Honors: 

  • MLS All-Time Best XI – Midfielder
  • 2009 Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player
  • MLS Best XI – 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
  • The MLS Cup Most Valuable Player – 2003, 2011
  • MLS All-Star – 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • MLS All-Star Game Most Valuable Player – 2001, 2014
  • 2008 MLS Golden Boot
  • 2010 MLS Silver Boot
  • 2009 MLS Goal of the Year
  • MLS Greatest Player of All Time 

Final Thought

The Major League Soccer is getting more momentum in recent years and high-profile signings from European clubs are some of the contributing factors. In fact, some sections of football fans believe the best MLS transfers are those from European Clubs.

Anyway, who’s your favorite MLS transfer from European Club?

Further Reading:

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