MLS: My All-Time “Good” Players List

We all know about “the Greats” of Major League Soccer (MLS), but we too rarely acknowledge, or even celebrate, “the Good.”  These are the kinds of players who, during their best years, showed up every week and played the game at a level befitting a pro; and plenty of them are still doing it.  Begging the gods to deliver these players to your team isn’t going to happen, but, in the event they do pull on your side’s jersey, you’re confident they’ll wear it well.  Bottom line, these players are the real lifeblood of MLS, the half-anonymous guys whose consistence and quality make possible an American top-flight.

With that fuzzy sub-ideal in my head, I went over to MLS’s all-time player register and wrote down all the names deemed to match it.  After refining the criteria bit by bit – and this was damned subtle at times – I compiled the list below….and then struggled for a while with what to name all these players.  In the end, I went with stating the matter plainly: MLS’s All-Time Good Players.  Here are the criteria for making the club:

A minimum number of games: I went with around 50 starts/games.  This operates on a loose, four good year rule.  Playing for a few teams works better, but “super journeymen” work all right as well.
Awards winners/”Arguably, the best ____”: This is about recognizing the unrecognized, so MVP awards or ____ of the Year (except Comeback Player or Humanitarian) disqualifies a player.  Also, any player you can see discussed as “arguably, the best ____.”
National team experience: the less experience the better. World Cup participants are right out, as are past and future long-time regulars in the pool.   Let’s call a hard ceiling of 20 caps.  (Great resource for counting caps.)
– MLS should be the peak of the players’ ambitions/abilities; modest European Escapes (e.g. no top 5 leagues) are allowed, but only after a long time in MLS – say, six years.
– I’m going by my faulty, much-abused memory; I won’t name anyone I don’t at least vaguely remember.  I’m leaning on MLSnet.com to catch awards and that’s much to my chagrin: I’m leaving off a lot of guys I feel are appropriate.

With that out of the way, I want to emphasize something: this isn’t me issuing The Word from the Mount; I absolutely invite people to question my choices, and to lobby for players they view as appropriate.  Drop candidates or question choices on the list in the comments below (or email me) and I will answer – even if I don’t agree.  I’ll add and subtract where I can be convinced.

Now, without further ado, commentary, without additional asterisks, my list of the All-Time Good Players in MLS History appears below (don’t ask me why the names are capitalized).  Players with asterisks next to their names are the All-Time Good Player All-Stars, which is awarded based on playing at a consistent level for a long time in relative anonymity:
NELSON AKWARI
DAVY ARNAUD (1 cap)
GEOFF AUNGER
IMAD BABA (1 cap)
JEFF BAICHER (2 caps)
TENYWA BONSEU
SEAN BOWERS
PAUL BRAVO (4 caps)
PAUL BROOME
CHRIS BROWN
C. J. BROWN (15 caps)*
EDSON BUDDLE (2 caps)
JOSE BURCIAGA JR.*
DAN CALICHMAN
JOSE CANCELA
BRIAN CARROLL
JEFF CASSAR
TED CHRONOPOULOS (1 cap)
MIKE CLARK
RYAN COCHRANE
RAMIRO CORRALES
LEO CULLEN (3 caps)
JIM CURTIN
TROY DAYAK (9 caps – no shit?)
ERIC DENTON
ANDY DORMAN (* to be)
MARK DOUGHERTY
MIKE DUHANEY
TODD DUNIVANT (2 caps)
BRIAN DUNSETH
TED ECK (13 caps)
ANSIL ELCOCK
SIMON ELLIOTT
JASON FARRELL
JOE FRANCHINO (1 cap)*
HUNTER FREEMAN
NICK GARCIA (6 caps)*
SCOTT GARLICK*
CHRIS GBANDI
FRANCISCO GOMEZ
CLARENCE GOODSON
MARIO GORI
NED GRABAVOY (* to be)
KELLY GRAY (* to be)
JOSHUA GROS
DIEGO GUTIERREZ*
WOLDE HARRIS
JAY HEAPS
EZRA HENDRICKSON (caps for St. Vincent don’t count)*
DANIEL HERNANDEZ
ZAK IBSEN (15 caps)
UGO IHEMELU (1 cap)
NATE JAQUA (1 cap)
JACK JEWSBURY
STEVE JOLLEY
MATT JORDAN
MILES JOSEPH (3 caps)
BRIAN KAMLER*
HARUT KARAPETYAN
PAUL KEEGAN (modest cheat, but does Irish top-flight count?)
KRIS KELDERMAN
CLE KOOIMAN (12 caps)
RICHIE KOTSHCAU*
DAVID KRAMER
JOHN MAESSNER
BRIAN MAISONNEUVE (13 caps)*
PETE MARINO
JESSE MARSCH (1 cap)** (he gets two; hugely underrated)
TYRONE MARSHALL
KYLE MARTINO (8 caps)
CHAD McCARTY (1 cap)
MATT McKEON (2 caps)
IVAN McKINLEY
CARLOS MENDES
DREW MOOR
ALEJANDRO MORENO
BRIAN MULLAN (2 caps)
PAULO NAGAMURA
BRIAN NAMOFF
JOSEPH NGWENYA
FRANCIS OKAROH
DANNY O’ROURKE (if not now, he will be)
BO OSHONIYI*
DUNCAN OUGHTON
OSCAR PAREJA
JEFF PARKE
ROSS PAULE*
LOGAN PAUSE
DANNY PENA
ORLANDO PEREZ
MIKE PETKE (2 caps)
RUSTY PIERCE
BRANDON POLLARD
TOM PRESTHUS (1 cap)
BRANDON PRIDEAUX
ERIC QUILL
MATT REIS (1 cap; never won GK of the Year)
BOBBY RHINE*
NICK RIMANDO
EDDIE ROBINSON
JIM ROONEY
IAN RUSSELL
MARCELO SARAGOSA
GIOVANNI SAVARESE
SCOTT SEALY
GONZALO SEGARES
MARK SEMIOLI
CLYDE SIMMS (1 cap)
MARK SIMPSON
KHANO SMITH
TOM SOEHN
JUERGEN SOMMER (8 caps)
RYAN SUAREZ
VITALIS TAKAWIRA
CAREY TALLEY*
SHAVAR THOMAS
ABE THOMPSON
RYAN TINSLEY
PETE VANEGAS (2 caps – * to be)
SIMO VALAKARI
DAVID VAUDREUIL
SCOTT VERMILLION
SASHA VICTORINE (4 caps – * to be)
CRAIG WAIBEL (* to be)
DANTE WASHINGTON (6 caps)
WELTON
BRIAN WEST (7 caps)
EVAN WHITFIELD
ANDY WILLIAMS** (also gets two; always useful)
CHRIS WINGERT
JOHN WOLYNIEC (2 caps)*
TODD YEAGLEY
ALEX ZOTINCA

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One Response

  1. […] dubs this group “mid-range players,” while I called them “good” players in an ode I wrote way back when, but these are basically the guys who make a team better without making the […]

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