From being known as a retirement league for aging football stars in the past, the Major League Soccer (MLS) has grown in leap and bounds in recent years. So much so that European clubs are now poaching youngsters from there.

The likes of David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, David Villa, Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Andrea Pirlo have graced the MLS.

In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG brings you the top 20 best players in the MLS in 2022.

The influx of high-profile stars from Europe often overshadows the exploits of the domestic players and the upcoming youngsters.

1. Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)

Josef Martinez best players in MLS
(Photo by Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images)

So far, across 151 matches for Atlanta United, Josef Martinez has netted an astonishing 108 goals!

The 28-year-old won both the MVP and Golden Boot in 2018 after guiding Atlanta to MLS Cup glory.

He bagged 31 goals in 34 regular-season games that year before scoring four goals in five post-season appearances.

He holds the MLS record for career hat-tricks with six in his first 44 games, the record for cumulative goals in regular and post-season with 35, the record for most consecutive games with a goal (15).

Additionally, Martinez scored 100 goals in the MLS faster than any single player in history (125 games).

In 2018, Martínez became the most decorated single-season player in MLS history by winning the League MVP, All-Star Game MVP, Golden Boot, and MLS Cup Final MVP.

Josef Martinez is still one of the most dangerous players in the league, if not the most dangerous.

2. Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)

Hany Mukhtar best MLS players 2022
(Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Having played for the likes of Hertha Berlin, Benfica, and RB Leipzig in Europe, Hany Mukhtar moved to the MLS in 2020.

Last season, the German registered more goal involvements than anyone else in MLS.

The Nashville FC wizard conjured up 16 goals and 12 assists as his club finished in third place in the Eastern Conference.

Mukhtar holds the record for the fastest hat-trick in MLS history when he scored in the 10th, 13th, and 16th minutes against Chicago Fire in 2021.

He has 16 goals in the current season.

3. Daniel Gazdag

Daniel Gazdag best midfielders in the MLS
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Gazdag is a talented Hungarian attacking midfielder who plays for American MLS side Philadelphia Union.

The 26-year-old has been in fine form for Philadelphia since he joined in 2021. Daniel has scored 13 goals in 23 league games this season.

He has also provided 4 assists for his side. He is a magnificent passer of the ball, top-notch playmaker, and decent goalscorer.

The Hungary international is highly rated by pundits and is regarded as one of the best midfielders in the MLS.

4. Carles Gil (New England Revolution)

Carles Gil best MLS players
(Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).

Carles Gil won the 2021 MLS MVP award as the best player. His 18 assists led New England Revolution to clinch the 2021 Supporters’ Shield.

Gil hasn’t stopped this season, as he already has 5 goals and 8 assists in 2022. What makes the diminutive midfielder one of the best soccer players in the MLS is his superior playmaking capabilities and technical intelligence.

5. Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC)

Carlos Vela best MLS players
(Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

Former Arsenal midfielder Carlos Vela has been one of the best players in the MLS in the last decade.

He missed most of the 2020 campaign due to injury. He was also sidelined for much of last season with a hamstring issue.

But the Mexican magician hit the ground running with a hat-trick on his first appearance in the 2022 season.

Those who follow Major League Soccer closely know exactly how good Vela is.

As it stands, the 33-year-old has notched 75 goals and 36 assists in 127 appearances for LAFC.

With an incredible 34 goals in 31 games during the 2019 campaign, he is officially the most prolific MLS Golden Boot winner of all time.

Carlos Vela currently has 8 goals and 7 assists this season.

6. Gareth Bale (Los Angeles FC)

Gareth Bale MLS
(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Gareth Bale is widely regarded as one of the greatest wingers of his generation and one of the greatest Welsh players of all time.

After a glittering career at Southampton, Tottenham, and Real Madrid, he moved to the MLS this summer.

Bale made his MLS debut for Los Angeles FC in July and scored his scored his first goal in the following match against Sporting Kansas City.

7. Lorenzo Insigne (Toronto FC)

Despite joining Toronto FC in the middle of the season, Lorenzo Insigne — like Bale — gets included on this list due to his past exploits in European football.

But the Italian has so much to prove, and quickly.

8. Luiz Araujo (Atlanta United)

Luiz Araujo only joined and arrived in the MLS in 2021 but has quickly become a fan favorite due to his performances in the second part of the 2022 season.

The Brazilian winger is very versatile because he can play in midfield, up forward, or on the right side of the attacking line.

Atlanta United’s forward line has become more formidable since Araujo’s arrival.

9. Javier Hernandez “Chicharito” (LA Galaxy)

Javier Hernandez Highest-Paid Players in the MLS 2021

Former Manchester United, Real Madrid, and West Ham striker Chicharito moved to the MLS in 2020.

Last season, the Mexican scored 17 goals in 21 games for the Galaxy. Despite missing 13 games due to injury, he finished just two goals behind the 2021 MLS Golden Boot winner, Valentin Castellanos.

Javier Hernández is also one of the highest-paid MLS players.

10. Douglas Costa (LA Galaxy)

Douglas Costa best MLS players
(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Douglas Costa was once regarded as one of the deadliest wingers on the planet.

The skillful Brazilian starred for Bayern Munich and Juventus at the peak of his powers.

Of course, the 31-year-old is no longer at the peak of his powers, but he is still one of the best players in Major League Soccer.

Having won 3 Bundesliga titles and 3 Serie A titles, Costa joined Brazilian side Gremio before joining the LA Galaxy for the 2022 season.

11. Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire)

With 3 Bundesliga titles, 2 UEFA Champions League titles, 2 FIFA Club World Cup titles, and an English Premier League title, Xherdan Shaqiri has achieved a lot in his career.

He may not have been the standout player at Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, or Liverpool, but he is one of the best players in the MLS after teaming up with Chicago Fire in February.

12. Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew)

Jonathan Mensah is one of the best defenders in the MLS.

The Ghanaian joined the Columbus Crew back in 2017 and has since established himself as one of the top defenders in the league.

Jonathan Mensah is a big, physical, imposing center-back who’s also great in the air. He is great at timing tackles and is also great passer of the ball.

13. Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)

Andre Blake best goalkeepers in MLS
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake has been immense for the Philadelphia Union since he joined the club in 2014. He has consistently been one of the best MLS goalkeepers since he joined the league.

Over the past eight years, he has racked up more than 50 clean sheets and is closing in on 200 MLS appearances.

Blake won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016 and 2020.

14. Blaise Matuidi (Inter Miami)

Having won the 2018 FIFA World Cup with France, Matuidi signed for Inter Miami in 2020.

The former PSG and Juventus midfielder played a crucial role in France’s triumph at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Although he is no longer the player that he was in his prime, Matuidi is among the best players in MLS.

15. Gonzalo Higuain (Inter Miami)

Gonzalo Higuain has played for many of the world’s biggest soccer clubs. After starting his career at Argentine giant River Plate, the prolific striker starred for Real Madrid, Napoli, Juventus, AC Milan, and Chelsea.

Higuain’s record speaks for itself. Although he has struggled to shine for Inter Miami consistently, you can’t leave him out when ranking the top MLS players.

16. Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

Last year, Walker Zimmerman became only the third player in history to win back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year awards.

After winning the Supporters’ Shield at FC Dallas in 2016, Zimmerman clinched the Shield with Los Angeles FC in 2019. He is definitely one of the best defenders in the MLS.

The center-back moved to Nashville FC and has since transformed them into one of the best defensive teams in the league.

Walker Zimmerman’s significance to Nashville, SC cannot be overemphasized.

17. Raul Ruidiaz (Seattle Sounders)

Fans of Seattle Sounders were overjoyed when Raul Ruidiaz signed a new contract in February. It is not difficult to understand why.

The Peruvian striker has no doubt been one of the top soccer players in the MLS. He has had a serious impact for the Sounders since he joined them.

His goals have helped the Sounders achieve five consecutive second-place finishes in the Western Conference and also win the MLS Cup in 2019.

18. Victor Wanyama (CF Montreal)

Victor Wanyama best MLS players 2022
(Photo by Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images)

Having played for the likes of Celtic, Southampton, and Tottenham in the UK, Victor Wanyama moved to the MLS in 2020. He signed for Montreal Impact, now known as CF Montreal.

The former Kenyan captain helped Montreal win the Canadian Championship in 2021.

19. Federico Benardeschi (Toronto FC)

Federico Benardeschi shocked many when he decided to move to the MLS from Italian giants Juventus this summer.

Bernardeschi was part of the Italian national team that won Euro 2020.

20. Maxi Moralez (New York City FC)

Maximiliano Moralez

Maxi Moralez is one of the shortest players in the world and is nicknamed “frasquito” (little flask). He is one of the shortest footballers in the world.

Despite his stature, he is one of the best players in the MLS.

Moralez helped New York City FC win the MLS Cup and MLS Eastern Conference in 2021.

Notable Mentions:

Here are other notable names who are deservedly among the best soccer players in the MLS:

  • Riqui Puig (LA Galaxy)
  • Christian Benteke (DC United)
  • Sebastin Driussi (Austin FC)
  • Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas)
  • Brandon Vázquez (FC Cincinnati)
  • Jeremy Ebobisse (San Jose Earthquakes)
  • Romell Quioto (Montreal CF)
  • Emanuel Reynoso (Minnesota United FC)
  • Darlington Nagbe (Columbus Crew)
  • Diego Rubio (Colorado Rapids)
  • Sebastian Rodríguez (New York City FC)
  • Luis Acosta (FC Cincinnati)
  • Kai Wagner (Philadelphia Union)
  • Jakob Glesnes (Philadelphia Union).

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