Los Angeles Galaxy icon David Beckham highlighted the list of “The 25 Greatest” MLS players, which was announced by the league in conjunction with the league celebrating its 25th season.
However, there is no place for the likes of global superstars Zlatan Ibrahimovic (52 goals in 56 games) or Thierry Henry (51 goals in 122 games).
A panel of close to 200 MLS experts chose the star-studded group, factoring in achievements on the field as well as who helped lay the foundation for the league’s future.
Among the former players on the list along with Beckham are United States legends Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Cobi Jones plus foreign greats Carlos Valderrama, Sebastian Giovinco and Robbie Keane.
The league’s anniversary comes at a chaotic time and one in which Commissioner Don Garber said the MLS is on track to have losses nearing $1 billion ($A1.3b) due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Now for 25 seasons, MLS has been a story about resilience and innovation and a commitment and our players, our owners, our staffs and our fans…” Garber said.
“And I want to remind everybody, and reflect how far we’ve come since our founding 25 years ago to become a top flight professional soccer league in the world.”
When Beckham left Real Madrid to join the Galaxy in 2007 it sent shockwaves through the sports world and helped increase the legitimacy of the MLS.
Beckham and Donovan – the most successful player in league history with six titles – were Galaxy teammates for five years and won two MLS Cup titles together.
Ibrahimovic, now 39, dominated the MLS for two seasons after linking with the Galaxy in 2018, scoring outrageous goals and leaving an indelible mark before his return to European football with AC Milan.
The MLS 25 Greatest by position are:
Goalkeepers: Kevin Hartman (1999 Goalkeeper of the Year), Tony Meola (2000 MVP), Nick Rimando (record 154 cleen sheets).
Defenders: Jeff Agoos (2001 Defender of the Year), Carlos Bocanegra (two-time Defender of the Year), Robin Fraser (two-time Defender of the Year), Chad Marshall (three-time Defender of the Year), Eddie Pope (1997 Defender of the Year).
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (record 498 games played), David Beckham (2011 Best XI), Dwayne De Rosario (2011 MVP), Marco Etcheverry (1998 MVP), Cobi Jones (1998 Best XI), Preki (two-time MVP), Steve Ralston (second with 135 assists), Carlos Valderrama (1996 MVP), Diego Valeri (2017 MVP).
Forwards: Clint Dempsey (two-time Best XI), Landon Donovan (2009 MVP), Sebastian Giovinco (2015 MVP), Robbie Keane (2014 MVP), Josef Martinez (2018 MVP), Jaime Moreno (fourth with 133 goals), Chris Wondolowski (2012 MVP), Bradley Wright-Phillips (two-time Golden Boot).