Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2024

Since its inception, the MLS has undergone a remarkable evolution, transforming from a nascent league into a global powerhouse that commands worldwide attention.

This transformation has been driven by the players – the men who don their boots week after week, crafting moments that become cherished memories for fans and influencing the trajectory of their teams.

As I unveil the top 20 MLS players of 2023, where dedication and skill converge, where soccer players transcend their designated roles to become key architects of their team’s success.

Each player on this list has a unique story to tell – one marked by unrelenting hard work, personal sacrifices, and an unwavering commitment to honing their skills.

From seasoned veterans who have left solid footprints on international stages to young prodigies who are blazing new trails, these lists stand as evidence of the rich diversity and depth of talent that the MLS has to offer.

1. Lionel Messi (Inter Miami)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Despite his legendary status, Lionel Messi’s move to Inter Miami marked a historic moment for the MLS. Messi has already made a strong impression for Inter Miami in both his debut and his first start.

Realistically, considering his exceptional skills, even with just half a season at this level, he could easily dismantle opposing defense strategies.

As long as he avoids extended breaks and doesn’t get overly absorbed in Miami’s nightlife, he’s likely to rack up numerous goals, positioning himself for a late surge in the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award race.

Despite only recently signing during the summer transfer window, he’s already established himself as the MLS’s most valuable player.

His unmatched dribbling, visionary passing, and precise finishing set him apart as an extraordinary player.

Beyond lifting the quality of play, his presence has also ignited a new wave of inspiration among the upcoming generation of MLS soccer players.

2. Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

The Germany international is leading the MLS in goal scoring with an impressive tally of 13 goals and seven assists.

This performance clearly proved his ability to contribute comprehensively to Nashville’s pursuit of championship success.

Week after week, Mukhtar consistently delivers exceptional performances for the team.

Having earned the title of 2022 MLS MVP, Hany Mukhtar seems poised to achieve a consecutive victory if he continues his current outstanding form for Nashville.

The club currently holds the fourth position in the Eastern Conference table.

Mukhtar’s remarkable versatility and creativity in the midfield have been instrumental in propelling Nashville SC to unprecedented achievements.

His skill in orchestrating attacks and delivering crucial goals has established him as an indispensable asset for his team.

3. Thiago Almada (Atlanta United)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

The key to Atlanta United’s success lies in the hands of the young World Cup winner.

As long as he remains a part of the MLS team, their prospects of winning are consistently strong. Thiago Almada has kicked off the 2023 season in remarkable fashion, netting 9 goals and contributing 12 assists.

These impressive numbers have played a key cog in maintaining Atlanta’s solid position for the upcoming playoffs.

With his exceptional on-field displays, the 22-year-old has captured the attention of prominent European clubs, potentially resulting in a new MLS transfer record being established this summer.

Notably, Manchester United is one of the clubs interested in securing the versatile Argentine player.

4. Josef Martínez (Inter Miami)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Josef Martinez, although a prominent player in the league, carries a certain burden of validation following his departure from Atlanta United.

While he may not fully resemble his pre-2019 self due to his ACL injury, his reputation as a premier goalscorer endures.

A shift in environment, coupled with the presence of Lionel Messi in the offensive lineup, sets the stage for a promising year ahead.

His impeccable finishing and unwavering determination have not only endeared him to fans but have also positioned him as a pivotal asset in Inter Miami’s attacking strategy.

5. Talles Magno (New York City)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

A 21-year-old Brazilian is making his mark as a winger for New York City FC in Major League Soccer.

His talent caught the attention of The Guardian, earning him a spot in their “Next Generation 2019” list.

Notably, Magno played a key role in Brazil’s Under-17 national team clinching victory in the U-17 World Cup held on their home turf in 2019.

With a playing style that shines when he’s in possession of the ball and when he’s collaborating with a target player, Magno’s performance this season with the MLS club has been inconsistent, experiencing fluctuations in form.

6 . Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

LAFC has a pool of talented midfield players like Jose Cifuentes and Kellyn Acosta, and the recent addition of Denis Bouanga strengthens the lineup.

However, Carlos Vela remains the heart of the team’s identity.

While he shared the spotlight last season alongside Gareth Bale and Cristian Arango, their departures have reinstated him as the focal point of the team’s attack.

Vela’s technical prowess and his knack for turning the tide of a game with his exceptional skills have defined his tenure at LAFC.

His leadership qualities and his consistent ability to find the back of the net continue to capture the admiration of fans.

7. Lorenzo Insigne (Toronto FC)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023
FOXBOROUGH, MA – JUNE 24: Lorenzo Insigne #24 of Toronto FC looks to pass during a game between Toronto FC and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on June 24, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).

Having previously played for Napoli, Insigne made a surprising move to Toronto FC in 2022.

The 31-year-old forward openly admitted that his experience in MLS has been more challenging than he initially anticipated. Insigne’s transition followed a decade-long association with the Italian powerhouse, Napoli.

Upon joining Toronto FC on a free transfer last summer, he promptly assumed the role of team captain. In the ongoing MLS season, he has participated in 14 matches, scoring 3 goals and providing 3 assists.

However, these statistics fail to truly prove the extent of his capabilities on the field.

Insigne’s presence has introduced a new dimension to Toronto FC’s offensive strategy, characterized by his flair, creativity, and ability to conjure magical moments during matches.

His agility and adept dribbling skills create a daunting challenge for defenders to contain and nullify.

6. Sebastian Driussi (Austin FC)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

The midfielder representing Austin FC is among the top earners in Major League Soccer this season.

Despite facing game absences due to injury, the 27-year-old Argentine exhibited his prowess by scoring an impressive 22 goals in the previous MLS season.

This achievement spans three different countries – Argentina, Russia, and the United States – where he has achieved double-digit goal counts.

Despite interest from Premier League’s Leeds, Driussi opted to remain in MLS.

Driussi’s adaptability in the attacking third and his knack for engineering goal-scoring opportunities establish him as a standout within Austin FC.

His tireless work rate and refined technical skills consistently pose a formidable challenge for opponents.

7. Facundo Torres (Orlando City SC)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

At the age of 23, Torres has risen as a shining star during the 2022 season, leading Orlando City to victory in the U.S. Open Cup.

The club had secured his services from Penarol for a record fee, and his adaptation to MLS was fast and impressive.

The Uruguayan talent has already earned attention from Arsenal, who view him as a potential backup for Bukayo Saka, recognizing his considerable growth potential.

Torres himself has mentioned that he envisions La Liga or the Premier League as potential destinations if he decides to make the move to Europe.

Torres’ youthful energy and refined technical abilities have set him apart as a standout performer for Orlando City SC.

His capability to take on defenders and create scoring opportunities adds a touch of flair to his team’s offensive play.

8. Daniel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

The Hungarian player gained attention when he scored the fourth goal against England at Molineux, a game that sealed England’s fate of relegation in the UEFA Nations League with a 4-0 defeat.

This win was a moment of celebration for Hungary, marking a major victory against one of the most highly regarded footballing nations.

Throughout the season, Daniel Gazdag has consistently delivered this level of performance for the Philadelphia Union, making him a factor behind the team’s success in 2022.

His exceptional talent is evident, demonstrated by his impressive tally of 22 goals.

What sets him apart, however, is his striking accuracy, with over 60% of his shots finding the target. As a result, his goal-scoring impact is significant, placing him second only to Hany Mukhtar in the entire division.

Gazdag’s ingenuity and strategic thinking in the midfield have injected a fresh dynamic into the Philadelphia Union’s gameplay.

His capacity to generate scoring opportunities and effectively link up play establishes him as an indispensable component within the team’s tactical structure.

9. Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Amidst the influx of young and promising players cycling through the Philadelphia Union, there’s one figure who stands as a consistent, unwavering presence – their goalkeeper, Andre Blake.

Continuously, year after year, Blake upholds his position as one of the premier goalkeepers in the league, and this season is no exception.

His performance shines brightly both statistically and in the eyes of those who watch, marking him as the unequivocal best and most vital player within the squad.

His goalkeeping skills in halting shots and his authoritative command of the goal area have rightfully positioned him as a standout among the league’s elite goalkeepers.

10 . Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Entering his fourth season with Nashville SC, Walker Zimmerman returns to anchor their defense.

He played a big part in a backline that conceded one of the lowest numbers of goals in the previous season. His contributions were vital in allowing the team to yield only 20 road goals, the fewest across the entire league in 2022.

This remarkable performance earned Zimmerman the record of being included in the MLS Best XI for that year.

This achievement is particularly noteworthy as he became the fifth player in MLS history to receive this honor for four consecutive seasons.

Among active MLS players, Zimmerman holds the record for the most MLS Best XI selections and shares the fifth spot all-time.

Zimmerman’s role as a leader at the defensive end, coupled with his ability in aerial situations, has solidified Nashville SC’s defensive strength. 

11. Luciano Acosta (FC Cincinnati)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Acosta’s potential was once sought after by top clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, and his performance in 2022 only solidified the belief that he could have thrived in European football.

Now 28, he seems settled in the MLS, but he’s undeniably on track to receive accolades as one of the best MLS players in 2023.

His recognition is primarily rooted in his incredible versatility in attack.

While he typically operates in the attacking midfield role, he has proven adept in playing as a forward or even in central midfield.

Acosta’s tactical intelligence ranks among the best in the league, consistently making the right decisions when distributing the ball.

His knack for providing incisive through balls and creating key scoring opportunities makes him an invaluable asset to his team.

When there are no clear passing options, he can unleash a potent shot, as evidenced by his impressive record this season with of 8 assists and 12 goals in the league. 

12 Carles Gil (New England Revolution)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Since his arrival at New England Revolution in 2019, Carles Gil has made a profound impact on the MLS.

The former Valencia midfielder immediately left his mark, earning the title of MLS Newcomer of the Year in his debut season.

Throughout the 2023 season, he has showcased his prowess by contributing 7 goals and providing 6 assists in 21 games for his club.

Gil’s remarkable playmaking skills and exceptional vision in the midfield have been impactful in the successes of the New England Revolution.

His ability to deliver precise passes and control the rhythm of the game cements his role as a central figure in his team’s midfield.

13. Sergio Busquets (Inter Miami)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

In the manner of Lionel Messi’s move, Sergio Busquets also made his way to Inter Miami this summer.

Carrying with him a reputation as one of the best midfielders on the global stage for the past fifteen years, his stature seamlessly transferred to the MLS.

Hailed as one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the history of football, Busquets’ legacy is undeniable.

His seasoned presence has significantly influenced Inter Miami’s style of play. His vast experience and acute tactical awareness have left an indelible imprint on the team’s performance.

His proficiency in orchestrating the game’s rhythm and distributing the ball with precision has emerged as a cornerstone of his team’s accomplishments.

14. Jordi Alba (Inter Miami)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

At 34 years old, Jordi Alba remains a dominant force, cementing his status as one of the game’s greatest left-backs in soccer

Joining forces with Messi and Busquets, Alba has taken his talents to Inter Miami, where he has made an instant impact, playing a key cog in the team’s capture of their first trophy.

Alba’s dynamic surges down the left flank, his precision in delivering crosses, and his defensive contributions from his position have significantly bolstered Inter Miami’s offensive threat from the flanks.

His on-field chemistry with Messi adds an extra layer of excitement and anticipation to the team’s performances.

15. Javier Hernandez (LA Galaxy)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

During the previous season, the Mexican player managed to net an impressive 17 goals in just 21 games for the Galaxy.

Despite a setback of missing 13 matches due to injury, he was narrowly edged out by only two goals by the 2021 MLS Golden Boot winner, Valentin Castellanos.

Unfortunately, Hernández’s 2023 season was cut short during the club’s quarterfinal match against Real Salt Lake in the 2023 U.S. Open Cup, as he suffered a torn ACL.

Nevertheless, his standing as one of the premier MLS soccer players remains unshaken.

Hernandez’s innate ability to score goals and his shrewd positioning within and around the penalty area have rendered him a formidable asset for the LA Galaxy.

His knack for creating space and efficiently converting opportunities has made him a fan favorite.

16. Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Since his emergence as a soccer prodigy, he has been affiliated with FC Dallas, a journey that has also seen him represent the US Men’s National Team (USMNT), despite being born in Colombia.

His narrative isn’t just heartening prose; it’s also backed by his prolific goal-scoring ability.

He found the net 18 times in the year 2022, a big contribution as FC Dallas advanced to the semi-finals of the Western Conference.

Ferreira’s journey also led him to the World Cup in Qatar, where he made a notable appearance, starting in the knockout game against the Netherlands.

To maintain his place in the national team, he’ll need to sustain his form, particularly since he didn’t participate in the January friendly against Serbia.

17. Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

With an impressive collection of trophies that includes 3 Bundesliga titles, 2 UEFA Champions League titles, 2 FIFA Club World Cup titles, and an English Premier League title, Xherdan Shaqiri’s career is a success.

While he might not have consistently occupied the spotlight at Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, or Liverpool, his pedigree has experienced a significant rise since joining forces with the Chicago Fire in February 2022.

His transfer fee of €6.5 million ($7.5 million) not only represents a historic milestone for the Chicago Fire but also places him among the highest-paid players in the MLS.

Shaqiri’s distinctive style, combined with his exceptional prowess in delivering set pieces and his knack for unlocking tight defenses with inventive plays, has infused the Chicago Fire with renewed energy.

His adaptability and versatility in various attacking roles introduce an element of unpredictability to his team’s tactics, reshaping the dynamics of their gameplay.

18. Riqui Puig (LA Galaxy)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Emerging as one of the most promising talents from La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, the diminutive midfielder carried high expectations when he transitioned to the Barcelona first team.

However, limited opportunities in Barcelona prompted Riqui Puig to make a move to the MLS in 2022. His undeniable talent has been on full display in the MLS, where he has captured attention with his performances.

Puig ranks among the best playmakers in the MLS, a fact underscored by his inclusion in the 2023 MLS All-Stars lineup.

Throughout the 2023 season, Riqui Puig has contributed with 4 goals and 4 assists in 21 matches.

Known for his adept dribbling, close ball control, and aptitude for orchestrating play in midfield, Puig has injected fresh life into the LA Galaxy.

His youthful exuberance and creative flair have undoubtedly invigorated the team’s offensive capabilities.

19. Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Selected as the second overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by Atlanta United, an expansion club at the time, Miles Robinson embarked on his professional journey.

Initially, he didn’t find a consistent place in the squad and was subsequently loaned out to the Charleston Battery in 2017.

This was followed by a stint with Atlanta United 2, the reserve affiliate, in 2018.

However, Robinson’s fortunes took a positive turn from the 2019 season onwards.

With the appointment of Frank de Boer as the head coach, Robinson began to solidify his position in the starting lineup and has since firmly entrenched himself as a key player for the team.

He made his debut for the United States senior national team in September 2019.

Renowned for his physical prowess, calm ball control, and astute defensive positioning, Robinson has earned a reputation as one of the top defenders in the league.

His ability to anticipate the game’s flow and execute crucial interventions has been a cornerstone of Atlanta United’s defensive solidity.

20. Jonathan Mensah (San Jose Earthquakes)

Top 20 Best MLS Players | 2023

Mensah has firmly established himself as one of the standout defenders in the MLS.

Having joined the Columbus Crew in 2017, the Ghanaian defender quickly ascended the ranks to become one of the league’s top defensive talents.

In 2023, the San Jose Earthquakes secured Mensah’s services, recognizing his impressive performances and defensive prowess.

Mensah’s leadership qualities and defensive capabilities have been pivotal in fortifying the San Jose Earthquakes’ defensive line.

His adeptness at reading the game, dominating aerial challenges, and distributing the ball effectively have all contributed to his undeniable value on the field.