For years, we’ve seen some of the world’s top talent move to the US to play MLS football in the twilight of their careers.

From Pele to David Beckham, right through to modern day stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Villa, many of the best players ever to grace the beautiful game have headed stateside to prolong their careers or, in some cases, for vast financial rewards.

But it isn’t just the elite that often cross the Atlantic. Players that couldn’t quite cut it among Europe’s finest, such as Bradley Wright-Phillips and Giovani dos Santos, often make the move to Major League Soccer, find their level and go on to have great success in the promised land.

And the names mentioned above are just some of the most notable MLS imports that you can remember. So, what about the ones you forgot about?

Here at Squawka, we have prepared a list of 12 players that you may have forgot switched to MLS and are still plying their trade there to this day.

Fetch a brew and get comfortable, we’re about to throw some wild names at you.

1. Michael Mancienne – New England Revolution

Age: 31

Former clubs: Chelsea, QPR (loan), Wolves (loan), Hamburg, Nottingham Forest

Years spent in MLS: 1

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: 0

With 61 appearances for England at various youth levels, Michael Mancienne was supposed to be England’s next top-class centre-back.

However, with chances at Chelsea limited, Mancienne traversed various clubs around England instead, and Hamburg in Germany, with varying degrees of success before making the switch to New England Revolution in August.

One that got away…

2. Carlos Vela – Los Angeles FC

Age: 29

Former clubs: Guadalajara, Arsenal, Celta Vigo (loan), Salamanca (loan), Osasuna (loan), West Brom, Real Sociedad

Years spent in MLS: 1

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: 0

Despite not hitting the heights expected of him during his Arsenal days, Carlos Vela has, nevertheless, gone on to have a very respectable career.

The 29-year-old scored 73 goals during a 250 game spell with Real Sociedad, as well as winning 71 caps for the Mexican national side.

Vela joined Los Angeles FC in August 2017 and has scored 14 goals in 28 games for the club so far.

3. Bacary Sagna – Montreal Impact

Age: 36

Former clubs: Auxerre, Arsenal, Manchester City, Benevento

Years spent in MLS: 1

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: 0

With over 500 club appearances, 65 caps for France and a clutch of major honours under his belt to date, Bacary Sagna makes for an esteemed addition to MLS.

Sagna made the move to Montreal Impact in August 2018, after a short stay with Italian side Benevento, making nine appearances and scoring one goal so far.

4. Danny Wilson – Colorado Rapids

Age: 27

Former clubs: Rangers, Liverpool, Blackpool (loan), Bristol City (loan), Hearts

Years spent in MLS: 1

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: 0

Following his exploits in helping Rangers win the 2009-10 Scottish league title, Liverpool paid an initial £2m for Danny Wilson’s services and much was expected of the Scottish international.

However, Wilson couldn’t adjust to the demands of the English game and, following a spell with Hearts and a return to Rangers, he now finds himself at MLS side Colorado Rapids.

5. Philippe Senderos – Houston Dynamo

Age: 34

Former clubs: Servette, Arsenal, AC Milan (loan), Everton (loan), Fulham, Valencia, Aston Villa, Grasshoppers, Rangers

Years spent in MLS: 2

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: US Open Cup (2018)

Philippe Senderos was on the verge of excellence during his early years at Arsenal. However, his mistake-prone nature saw his standing take a gradual slide down the footballing ladder and, aged 33, he now finds himself playing for Houston Dynamo.

His time in MLS has seen Senderos become an unexpected goal threat, bagging four times in 13 games in the 2018 campaign.

6. Jay Simpson – Philadelphia Union

Age: 30

Former clubs: Arsenal, Millwall (loan), West Brom (loan), QPR (loan), Hull City, Buriram United, Leyton Orient

Years spent in MLS: 2

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: 0

Jay Simpson is another former Arsenal youngster who probably suffered from the loan system more than he benefitted from it.

Since leaving the Gunners in 2010, Simpson’s career has seen him travel as far as Thailand, come back to the much less glamorous Orient of Leyton (no disrespect), and then end up in MLS with Philadelphia Union.

The 30-year-old has struggled to find his form, though, and has only scored four goals in 33 games for Union to date.

7. Maynor Figueroa – Houston Dynamo

Age: 35

Former clubs: Victoria, Olimpia, Wigan Athletic, Hull City, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas

Years spent in MLS: 4 

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: US Open Cup (2016), Supporters’ Shield (2016)

Most famous for scoring from his own half for Wigan against Stoke in 2009, Maynor Figueroa has enjoyed a great deal of success since making his MLS move in 2015.

First with Colorado Rapids, now with FC Dallas, the 146-time Honduran international has made 96 appearances for American clubs to date, winning the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup and 2016 Supporters’ Shield in the process.

8. Roger Espinoza – Sporting Kansas City

Age: 32

Former clubs: Yavapai Roughriders, Ohio State Buckeyes, Arizona Sahuaros, Wigan Athletic

Years spent in MLS9 (across multiple spells)

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: US Open Cup (2012, 2015, 2017)

Another Honduran international who played for Wigan in their Premier League heyday, Roger Espinoza is currently enjoying his second spell with Sporting Kansas City, where he is regarded as a club icon with 251 appearances and three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup wins under his belt to date.

9. Gregory van der Wiel – Toronto FC

Age: 31

Former clubs: Ajax, PSG, Fenerbahce, Cagliari

Years spent in MLS: 1 

Trophies won in the USA/Canada: 1

Well, we started with a crash, so we will end with a bang – rounding off our list is 46-time Dutch international Gregory van der Wiel.

Van der Wiel has won titles in Holland and France, as well as being a World Cup runner-up with Holland in 2010, and now finds himself enjoying more success in MLS.

Since joining Toronto FC in February 2018, the right-back has already secured a Canadian Championship, reached the final of the Concacaf Champions League (the North American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League) and made 33 appearances for the club to date.


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