We are all aware of how Major League Soccer (MLS) has gained significant momentum since its launch in 1993. Top international players like Valderrama, Matthaus, Stoichkov, Azizi, Djorkaeff, Beckham, Henry and Keane have called US their home for a season or two or more, since then. With the league maintaining its global aura, curiosity led me to see how “international” it really is?

Just in case you had any doubt that MLS is a global league at the vanguard of a global game…

There are a record numbers of 269 foreign players on the various rosters this season as it dwells in the playoff session, hailing from 64 countries. That, my friends, is approximately 46 percent of the league and a 31% increase since 2011 which showcased 184 athletes. Quite significant, isn’t it?

Europe (67) and South America (66) are the top two continents featuring their respective nationalities across the various franchises. The top country represented, is obviously led by their northern neighbors with 26. Apart from the Canadians, South Americans dominate the number of imports in the league featuring 20 each from Brazil and Colombia followed by 16 from Argentina.

And in terms of their actual impact this season?

The top 10 goal scorers include 8 foreign players who have scored 118 goals between them with Brazilian Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo of Vancouver Whitecaps, leading the list with 22 goals. You must be aware of him, as we marked this incredible goal of his against Portland Timbers a month ago. This list includes 3 South Americans, 2 Europeans, 1 each from Asia, Africa and Central America.

The same applies for the number of assists generated by foreign players around the league. Argentinean Diego Valeri of Portland Timbers heads this list with 13 assists. This list includes 4 South Americans, 3 Europeans, and a lone contender from Canada.

All in all, it’s evident that the influx of foreigners has raised the profile of the league through the quality of play but more importantly, the part it has played in introducing MLS as a league for European scouts to look into for prospects. Below is the list broken down by the individual countries:

Countries # Region
Algeria 1 Africa
Argentina 16 S. America
Australia 3 Asia
Austria 1 Europe
Bermuda 1 N. America
Brazil 20 S. America
Cameroon 5 Africa
Canada 26 N. America
China 1 Asia
Colombia 20 S. America
Congo 4 Africa
Costa Rica 8 C. America
Croatia 1 Europe
Cuba 2 N. America
Denmark 3 Europe
Ecuador 4 S. America
El Salvador 2 C. America
England 12 Europe
Estonia 1 Europe
France 11 Europe
Gambia 6 Africa
Germany 5 Europe
Ghana 5 Africa
Grenada 1 S. America
Guatemala 1 C. America
Haiti 3 C. America
Honduras 9 C. America
Indonesia 1 Asia
Ireland 3 Europe
Italy 7 Europe
Jamaica 13 N. America
Japan 3 Asia
Kenya 1 Africa
Liberia 1 Africa
Mali 1 Africa
Malta 1 Europe
Mexico 12 C. America
Montenegro 1 Europe
Morocco 2 Africa
Netherlands 1 Europe
New Caledonia 1 Oceania
New Zeland 4 Oceania
Nigeria 2 Africa
Northern Ireland 1 Europe
Norway 1 Europe
Panama 5 C. America
Peru 1 S. America
Poland 1 Europe
Portugal 1 Europe
Scotland 5 Europe
Senegal 1 Africa
Serbia 2 Europe
Sierra Leone 2 Africa
South Africa 1 Africa
South Korea 1 Asia
Spain 4 Europe
St. Kitts and Nevis 1 N. America
Sweden 2 Europe
Switzerland 3 Europe
Trinidad & Tobago 4 N. America
Uganda 1 Africa
USA 323 N. America
Uruguay 3 S. America
Venezuela 1 S. America
Zambia 2 Africa
Total 592

PS: These numbers might defer by a few as the list was compiled a few months ago, source being www.mlssoccer.com


    • I was not tempted to add a few names from the region and the first one that popped up in the mind was Azizi. One of the finest, indeed.

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