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:
|Costa Rica||8||C. America|
|El Salvador||2||C. America|
|St. Kitts and Nevis||1||N. America|
|Trinidad & Tobago||4||N. America|
PS: These numbers might defer by a few as the list was compiled a few months ago, source being www.mlssoccer.com
Props for the Azizi mention. One of our all-time greats!!
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.