The Major League Soccer (MLS) was once renowned for attracting only SUPERSTARS in the twilight of their careers.
European veterans like David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, David Villa, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, etc., moved to North America towards the end of their respective careers.
But nowadays, the league’s best players are no longer just European oldies but also comprise upcoming youngsters, who even sometimes later secure transfers to European clubs.
The label of MLS being just a league or European veterans has largely disappeared in the last decade as it has evolved into a talent developer.
In recent years, MLS has commanded massive transfer fees for young stars who have secured moves to the top European clubs, including Alphonso Davies, Miguel Almiron, Tyler Adams, Ricardo Pepi, Gaga Slonina, Jhon Duran, Taty Castellanos, Djordje Petrovic, and Brenden Aaronson.
There is no doubt that there are many top players in the MLS right now.
In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG brings you the top 20 best MLS players in 2023.
1. Lionel Messi (Inter Miami)
The arrival of arguably the greatest soccer player of all time, Lionel Messi, is a tremendous revolution for the MLS in terms of visibility, credibility, and prestige.
The Argentine superstar, who joined David Beckham’s Inter Miami, has unsurprisingly quickly settled in America — registering 10 goals and an assist in his first 8 appearances.
Despite being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Inter Miami — inspired by Messi —has won the Leagues Cup, their first-ever trophy.
What an achievement for Messi at a club that was just formed in 2018!
2. Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)
Having played for the likes of Hertha Berlin, Benfica, and RB Leipzig in Europe, Hany Mukhtar moved to the MLS in 2020.
Before the arrival of Messi, the best player in the MLS was Hany Mukhtar. The German attacker stood out with his impressive rate of goals and assists.
He won the MVP in 2022 after scoring 26 goals and providing 8 assists in just 37 matches.
He has continued with the same vein of form in 2023, registering 15 goals and 13 assists in 32 matches this year.
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.
3. Carlos Vela (LAFC)
Former Arsenal midfielder Carlos Vela has always been among the best players in the Major League Soccer since his arrival.
And at 34, the Mexican keeps going on — he has 10 goals and 5 assists in 24 games in 2023.
4. Josef Martínez (Inter Miami)
The Venezuelan striker joined Inter Miami in January 2023 and has struck a great partnership with Lionel Messi in the attack.
Josef Martínez has consistently been one of the best MLS players in recent years.
In over 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.
The Venezuelan joined Inter Miami this year and has 9 goals and 3 assists in 31 games.
5. Sebastian Driussi (Austin FC)
Having starred for Zenith Saint Petersburgh in Russia, Sebastian Driussi joined Austin FC in 2021. He has since become one of the household names in the MLS.
In April 2022, he became the first Austin FC player to score 10 goals for the club.
In 38 games last year, Driussi netted 25 goals and provided 6 assists. This saw him named as one of 26 players to make the 2022 MLS All-Star team.
In 2023, he has 8 goals and laid 3 assists in 20 appearances.
6. Lorenzo Insigne (Toronto FC)
Lorenzo Insigne spearheaded the European superstar arrivals to the MLS in the summer of 2022.
The former Napoli man has scored 10 goals and provided 4 assists in 27 games for Toronto FC since then.
7. Federico Bernardeschi (Toronto FC)
Like Insigne, Federico Bernardeschi also joined Canadian side Toronto FC in the summer of 2022.
The Italian has registered 11 goals and 5 assists for his new club so far.
8. Luciano Acosta (FC Cincinnati)
Luciano “Lucho” Acosta moved from Boca Juniors to the MLS in 2016, joining DC United.
He later moved to Mexican side, Atlas, but returned to the MLS in 2021, joining FC Cincinnati.
This year, Acosta has played in 29 matches and has scored an impressive 13 goals whilst providing 8 assists.
9. Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
A goalkeeper by trade, Andre Blake is among the best players in the MLS. He has won several accolades to his honor.
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.
The Jamaican has kept 9 clean sheets in 24 matches this year.
10. Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Walker Zimmerman is one of the best center-backs in the MLS. The experienced USMNT man is the captain of Nashville, SC.
The 30-year-old has played 24 matches in 2023, and despite being a defender, has scored 4 goals and provided 1 assist.
11. Daniel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union)
Hungarian International Daniel Gazdag joined the Philadelphia Union in 2022 and immediately established himself as one of the top players in the MLS.
Gazdag has 13 goals and 5 assists to his name in 28 games.
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.
12. Sergio Busquets (Inter Miami)
Like Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets recently moved to Inter Miami this summer.
His reputation as one of the best midfielders in the world in the last decade and a half followed him to the MLS.
The Spaniard is also widely considered to be among the greatest defensive midfielders in soccer history.
13. Jordi Alba (Inter Miami)
Jordi Alba joined Messi and Busquets at Inter Miami and has already helped the club secure their first-ever trophy in history.
14. Facundo Torres (Orlando City SC)
Orlando City winger Facundo Torres is one of the most exciting young players in the Major League Soccer.
Last season, he registered 13 goals and 10 assists in 40 appearances.
This campaign, he already has 7 goals and 2 assists in 24 games.
15. Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)
Miles Robinson was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by expansion club Atlanta United.
He initially did not feature for the side and was loaned out to the Charleston Battery in 2017, followed by reserve affiliate Atlanta United 2 in 2018.
From the 2019 season, Robinson began appearing as a regular starter for the club following the arrival of Frank de Boer as head coach and has now firmly established himself.
He made his senior debut for the United States in September 2019.
In July 2021, he was selected as part of the 23-man squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. In the final against Mexico, Robinson scored the winner in extra-time to give the United States the championship.
Highly regarded as among the future stars of the USMNT, Miles has played 19 matches for his club this year.
16. Carles Gil (New England Revolution)
Ever since joining New England Revolution in 2019, Carles Gil has taken the MLS by storm.
The former Valencia midfielder was named the MLS Newcomer of the Year the year he joined the club.
In the 2023 season, he has scored 7 goals and assisted 6 in 21 games for his club.
17. Javier Hernandez “Chicharito” (LA Galaxy)
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.
Although Hernández’s 2023 season came to an end during the club’s quarterfinal match against Real Salt Lake in the 2023 U.S. Open Cup when he suffered a torn ACL, he is still one of the best MLS soccer players.
18. 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 2022.
19. Jonathan Mensah (San Jose Earthquakes)
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.
However, in 2023 San Jose Earthquakes acquired the defender after his impressive performances.
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.
20. Riqui Puig (LA Galaxy)
The diminutive midfielder was one of the most exciting talents in La Masia and when he moved to the Barcelona first team, many had high hopes for him.
Lack of game time in Barcelona prompted Riqui Puig to move to MLS in 2022. No one doubts that the Spaniard is incredibly talented and he has shone in the MLS.
He is one of the best playmakers in the MLS and was part of the MLS All-Stars in 2023.
In the 2023 season, Riqui Puig has scored 3 goals and assisted 4 in 21 matches.
21. Thiago Almada (Atlanta United)
Thiago Almada was a member of the Argentine team that won the 2022 FIFA World Cup, thus making history as the first-ever footballer to win the World Cup while playing in the MLS.
The wing wizard has scored 9 goals and provided another 9 assists in 23 matches in 2023.
22. Cucho Hernandez (Columbus Crews)
At 24 years old, Colombian forward Cucho Hernandez is one of the most feared attackers in the MLS.
His game-changing abilities and energy on the field are an asset for the Columbus Crew.
Hernandez has played 20 matches so far in 2023 and has goals, 8 goals, and 8 assists to his name.
23. Brandon Vázquez (FC Cincinnati)
American forward Brandon Vázquez netted 20 goals and provided 8 assists across all competitions in 2022.
He has continued his rich form this year, registering 11 goals and 2 assists in 24 games.
24. Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas)
Jesús Ferreira impressively bagged 18 MLS goals in 2022.
This year, he has already netted 10 goals in just 18 league appearances.
25. Evander (Portland Timbers)
Brazilian midfielder Evander joined Portland Timbers from Danish side FC Midtjylland this year.
In just 20 appearances for the club so far, he has notched 7 goals and provided 3 assists.