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Football Greats: Ranking the Top 25 MLS Players of All-Time

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IJanuary 19, 2017

Football Greats: Ranking the Top 25 MLS Players of All-Time

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    Jaime MorenoLarry French/Getty Images

    Beckham. Angel. Henry. Marquez. Montero. Ferreira. Cummings. Ricketts. Wondolowski. Le Toux. Rimando. Coundoul. Buddle. Keller.

    These are just a few names when talking about some of the best-known players in Major League Soccer in the past few years.

    But who are the top 25 players to have ever competed in this league? Bleacher Report investigates.

    NOTE: Records are as of this publishing date.

25. Taylor Twellman

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    Though his career in MLS has been hampered by head injuries, New England Revolution forward Taylor Twellman has been known for his scoring prowess.

    In nine seasons with the Revs, Twellman scored 101 goals in 174 appearances.

    His 101 goals are good for sixth-best all-time while his ten playoff goals put him tied for sixth all-time.

24. Preki

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    Predrag Radosavljevic, known to the masses as Preki, was one of the original players for Sporting Kansas City (formerly the Kansas City Wizards).

    In his two stints with Kansas City, Preki scored 71 goals in 218 appearances. He also spent one season with the Miami Fusion, scoring eight goals in 24 appearances.

    After retiring as a player, he was a manager for Chivas USA from 2007-09 and Toronto FC in 2010, where he led the Reds to the Canadian Championship.

23. Carlos Valderrama

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    It's all about the hair.

    Before there was Juan Pablo Angel, there was this man: Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama, who spent time as a member of the Tampa Bay Mutiny, Miami Fusion and Colorado Rapids.

    Known for his prowess as a provider and a playmaker, Valderrama made 175 appearances for his three clubs. Valderrama is also the most-capped player in Colombian history, appearing in 111 international matches.

22. Dwayne De Rosario

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    Canada's finest to break into the MLS ranks may just come from current Toronto FC swingman Dwayne De Rosario.

    He spent time with the San Jose Earthquakes and the Houston Dynamo, winning two MLS Cups each while also winning a Supporters' Shield with the Quakes.

    Returning home as a member of TFC, De Rosario led the Reds to the Canadian Championship in 2009 and 2010.

    Currently, De Rosario has garnered 77 goals in 241 league appearances.

21. Raul Diaz Arce

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    A Salvadoran that made his mark on the league was forward Raul Diaz Arce.

    Diaz Arce was an important part of D.C. United's two MLS Cup-winning seasons in 1996 and 1997. He also had stints with the New England Revolution, the San Jose Clash, the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny, and the Colorado Rapids while having one final stint with United in 2000-01.

    Diaz Arce scored 82 goals in 152 appearances for five different clubs in MLS.

20. Mauricio Cienfuegos

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    Checking in at #20 on our list is Mauricio Cienfuegos, one of the finest attacking midfielders during the early years of the league.

    After playing for six different clubs in Central America and Mexico, including Santo Laguna and El Salvador's Luis Angel Firpo, Cienfuegos played eight seasons for the Los Angeles Galaxy, scoring 35 goals and 78 assists in 206 appearances for the G's.

    Cienfuegos helped lead the Galaxy to an MLS Cup in 2002, Supporters' Shields in 1998 and 2002, a CONCACAF Champions Cup in 2000 and a U.S. Open Cup in 2001.

    Cienfuegos is currently tied for seventh all-time in playoff games played with 35.

19. Marco Etcheverry

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    Mention D.C. United, and you have to mention this man: midfielder Marco Etcheverry.

    In eight seasons with D.C. United, Etcheverry scored 34 goals in 190 appearances while leading D.C. to three MLS Cups, a U.S. Open Cup in 1996 and both a CONCACAF Champions Cup and a Copa Interamericana in 1998.

    One of Bolivia's finest footballers, Etcheverry is a recipient of the country's Medal of Merit for his acheivements in sport.

18. Jay Heaps

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    The New England Revolution have been on the short end of the MLS Cup, more times than they would have want happened.

    However, one of the brighter spots from the 'Buffalo Bills of Major League Soccer' is defender Jay Heaps.

    Heaps began his career with the Miami Fusion and scored eight goals in 71 appearances for the club.
    After being traded to the Revs, Heaps continued his work, scoring nine goals in 243 appearances for the club.

    Heaps did lead New England to a U.S. Open Cup in 2007 and a North American SuperLiga crown in 2008.
    Overall, Jay Heaps scored 17 goals in 316 league appearances.

17. Chris Henderson

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    Alongside Marcelo Balboa, midfielder Chris Henderson is one of the Colorado Rapids' greatest players.

    In his two stints with the Rapids, Henderson scored 53 assists and 31 goals in 178 apperances for Colorado. He also helped lead the Fusion to the MLS Supporters Shield in 2001.

    Henderson also has stints with Sporting Kansas City, the Columbus Crew and the New York Red Bulls.
    All in all, Henderson scored 51 goals in 317 appearances for five different MLS clubs, the latter good for seventh-best overall. He also recorded 26,242 minutes, which is good for fifth-best overall.

    A native of Edmonds, Washington, Henderson is currently the technical director for the Seattle Sounders.

16. Chris Klein

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    Versatility over a long period of time can get you places. Right back/midfielder Chris Klein is an example of this.

    Klein spent a good deal of his career as a member of Sporting Kansas City, scoring 39 goals in 200 appearances. He helped lead Sporting to an MLS Cup and Supporters Shield in 2000 and a U.S. Open Cup in 2004.

    Klein also spent time with Real Salt Lake, scoring eight goals in 43 appearances. He closed out his career with the Los Angeles Galaxy, making 90 appearances. 

    Overall, Klein scored 49 goals in 333 appearances (good for fifth-best all-time), while recording 26,248 minutes played (good for fourth-best all-time).

    Klein continues his work in MLS as the Senior Director of the LA Galaxy Youth Academy & Special Projects.

15. Carlos Ruiz

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    Perhaps the greatest MLS player to come out of Guatemala is "El Pescadito", forward Carlos Ruiz.

    Ruiz spent eight seasons with three different clubs from 2002-2008, the most notable being the Los Angeles Galaxy.

    2002 was Ruiz's finest year, as he helped lead the Galaxy to an MLS Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup, scoring a golden goal in extra time.

    Ruiz also played for FC Dallas and Toronto FC. Overall, he made 164 league appearances. Ruiz's 82 regular season goals are tied for ninth-best all time, while his 16 playoff goals is second-best all-time.

    Currently, Ruiz plays for Greek Super League side Aris Thessaloniki.

14. C.J. Brown

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    Center back C.J. Brown is one of the Chicago Fire's most recognized players.

    A tall, imposing presence at 6-foot-1, Brown was one of the original Fire players from their inaugural season. He made 286 appearances for the Fire, dispossessing opposing attacks with skill and tenacity.

    Brown helped lead the Fire to an MLS Cup in 1998, four U.S. Open Cups in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006, and a Supporters Shield in 2003.

    Brown's 35 playoff games played is tied for seventh all-time. His 3,221 minutes played are good for seventh-best all-time.

    Today, Brown is an assistant manager to Jason Kreis and Real Salt Lake.

13. Piotr Nowak

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    Former Chicago Fire midfielder and current Philadelphia Union manager Piotr Nowak was one of the key components of the Fire's early success.

    In 114 appearances for the club, he scored 26 goals while helping lead the Fire to two U.S. Open Cups and the 1998 MLS Cup.

12. Tony Meola

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    Goalkeeper Tony Meola is a goalkeeper that fans in New York and Kansas City are pretty familiar with.

    Meola was one of the New York Red Bulls' original members, and made 90 appearances from 1996-1998.

    As a member of Sporting Kansas City, Meola made 125 appearances in six season from 1999-2004, leading Sporting to the 2000 MLS Cup. He also spent one more stint as a member of the Red Bulls from 2005-06, making 35 appearances.

11. Marcelo Balboa

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    You gotta love the hair. You gotta love the beard. And you gotta love the mustache. It's defender Marcelo Balboa, and he is 11th on this list.

    Balboa spent a good deal of his MLS career as a member of the Colorado Rapids, where he scored 24 goals in 151 appearances for the side. He also made one final appearance as a member of the New York Red Bulls before retiring from the game.

    As a member of the USA men's national team, Balboa scored 13 goals in 128 appearances in a career that stretched from 1988-2000.

    Currently, Balboa is a soccer commentator for ESPN, ABC, HDNet and Altitude.

10. Eddie Pope

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    Defender Eddie Pope comes in at #10 on this list.

    Pope spent 14 seasons with three different clubs, the most notable being D.C. United. From 1996-2002, Pope recorded eight goals in 143 appearances for D.C.

    From 2003-04, Pope played with the New York Red Bulls, making 42 appearances. He closed out his career as a member of Real Salt Lake, making 69 appearances in the back line.

    A fixture on the U.S. men's national team, Pope recorded eight goals in 82 appearances from 1996-2006.

9. Jason Kreis

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    Current Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis was not too dang shabby himself as a player. His 108 regular season goals are good for fourth-best all-time.

    Kreis spent a good deal of his playing career as one of FC Dallas's finest. As a member of FCD (formerly the Dallas Burn), Kreis scored 91 goals in 247 appearances.

    After spending 11 seasons with FCD, Kreis was traded to RSL, where he added 17 goals in 58 appearances before taking the reins as manager. Kreis is the youngest manager to have ever won an MLS Cup.

8. Jeff Agoos

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    Jeff Agoos is one of the most decorated defenders in Major League Soccer.

    As a member of D.C. United from 1996-2000, he scored seven goals in 158 appearances while winning three MLS Cups and a U.S. Open Cup.

    From 2001-2004, Agoos earned two more MLS Cups as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes, playing alongside a certain Landon Donovan. He ended his career in 2005 as a member of the New York Red Bulls (formerly the NY/NJ MetroStars).

    A member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Agoos earned 134 caps for the USA Men's National Team.
    Agoos's 39 playoff games played are good for fourth all-time and his 3,557 playoff minutes are good for third all-time. He is currently Sporting Director of the Red Bulls.

7. Brian McBride

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    Another of MLS's most celebrated players is striker Brian McBride.

    His career at Premier League side Fulham was sandwiched between stints with the Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire.

    As one of the Crew's original players, McBride scored 62 goals in 161 appearances while leading Columbus to the 2002 U.S. Open Cup.

    After his career with Fulham ended, McBride closed out his footballing career with the Fire, scoring 18 goals in 59 appearances.

    McBride's 10 league playoff goals is good for sixth all-time. As a member of the USA men's national team, McBride garnered 96 caps while scoring 30 goals for the Stars and Stripes.

6. Steve Ralston

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    Steve Ralston is an ironman when comes to playing in the midfield. His 378 regular season games played and 33,143 regular season minutes played are league records.

    Ralston began his career as one of the original members of the Tampa Bay Mutiny, where he was a fixture in the lineup until the team's folding. Ralston scored 34 goals in 177 appearances.

    After the 2001 season, Ralston played with the New England Revolution from 2002-2009, where he scored 42 times in 201 appearances. After a brief stint with defunct NASL club AC St. Louis, Ralston made one final appearance with the Revolution before retiring.

    Ralston scored 76 goals in 379 league appearances. He is currently an assistant coach for Dominic Kinnear and the Houston Dynamo.

5. Jeff Cunningham

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    Columbus Crew forward Jeff Cunningham just seems to find a way to score goals. And goals. And goals.

    Cunningham's most prolific years came in his first stint with the Columbus Crew, where he scored 62 goals in 182 appearances. He also spent time as a member of the Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC and FC Dallas.

    With 132 goals to his credit, Cunningham just needs to score twice to pass Jaime Moreno for most career goals scored all-time in MLS.

4. Cobi Jones

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    These days, midfielder Cobi Jones is doing business with the New York Cosmos in their bid to revive the sleeping giant. But not too long ago he was one of the Los Angeles Galaxy's most familiar faces.

    He still is today.

    In 14 seasons with the Galaxy, Jones scored 70 goals in 305 appearances. For his work as a player, his number #13 jersey is the only number that is retired at the Home Depot Center.

    Jones continued his work with the Galaxy as an interim and assistant coach under Bruce Arena from 2008-2010.

    Jones's 3,938 playoff minutes played is good enough for second all-time, while his 45 playoff games played remains an all-time record.

    As a member of the USA national team, Jones scored 15 goals in 164 appearances.

3. Kevin Hartman

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    The longevity of the one they call "El Gato" must never be underestimated.

    FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman has had a long, storied career as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy, Sporting Kansass City and the Hoops.

    Hartman's most prolific years came with the Galaxy, in which he appeared 243 times in front of goal.

    After 10 seasons, two MLS Cups, a U.S. Open Cup and a Supporters' Shield, Hartman took his stopping skills to Sporting, where he made 90 appearances from 2007-2009.

    As a member of FC Dallas, he made 20 appearances in goal, though he was sidelined due to injury from a certain Thierry Henry.

    Nonetheless, in spite of the injury, Hartman is second all-time in games played (353), minutes played (31,590), playoff games played (44), first in playoff minutes played (4,042) and eighth in goals against average (1.21).

2. Landon Donovan

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    Midfielder Landon Donovan is not only one of the ambassadors of Major League Soccer, but American soccer in general.

    Donovan broke on to the MLS scene in 2001 as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes, scoring 32 goals in 87 appearances while helping the Quakes win the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003.

    Afterwards, Donovan was acquired by the Galaxy, where he really began to make a name for himself. He helped lead the Galaxy to an MLS Cup and U.s. Open Cup in 2005 and a Supporters' Shield last season. 

    As a member of the national team, Donovan is the USA's all-time goalscorer (45) and assists (45) leader, a four-time U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year and a seven-time Honda Player of the Year.

    So far, Donovan has scored 103 league goals in 232 league appearances. His 17 playoff goals are an all-time record, while his 103 goals are fifth all-time.

1. Jaime Moreno

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    There is a reason why D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno is at the top of this list.

    He is the all-time leading scorer with 133 goals.

    He is fourth all-time in playoff goals with 12.

    He is fourth all-time in games played with 340.

    He is ninth all-time in minutes played with 25,704.

    Finally, he is a five-time MLS Best XI selection.

    Moreno helped lead D.C. United to just about all the silverware they have won, though he did have a brief spell with the Red Bulls.

    It's because of these plaudits that Moreno is our No. 1 MLS Player of All-Time.

    And his son James is training with Premier League side West Ham United. Could this be a sign that both father and son will have spent their time in MLS?

    Stay tuned...

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