Major League Soccer is far from being referred to among the best leagues in the world, but it has seen groups of players – both American and otherwise – assume their places in the league and succeed, both in terms of winning trophies and scoring goals. In this list, we’ll be counting down the top 10 players currently in the MLS that are among the league’s all-time leading scorers as of May, 2014.
As is common in the MLS, most of the players on this list are in their 30s and, in the case of some of them, are on the road towards retirement. Some have a great wealth of international experience – a couple of whom are arguably their respective countries’ best-ever players – while others have very little or none at all. However, their accomplishments in the MLS – whether it be titles won or goals scored – stand out almost as much as anything they’ve accomplished outside of the league, if not more so.
Some of them – in the cases of Kenny Cooper and Conor Casey – tried establishing themselves at massive European clubs only to return stateside to find greater success. Others such as Davy Arnaud have spent the entirety of their club career in Major League Soccer, and thus have had a greater amount of time than others to work their way up the all-time MLS goal scoring list. Regardless of how they developed their careers, these players have come to this fast-growing league to establish themselves as big-time players, and are still going strong as we speak.
Furthermore, there is still lots of soccer left to be played in the current MLS season, so there remains plenty of time for these players to further seal their reputations as greats in this league. Here are the top 10 players currently active in the MLS that have the highest positions on the league’s all-time scoring list.
10. Davy Arnaud — DC United — 50 Goals
He struggled at times last season as the Montreal Impact’s captain, but Davy Arnaud makes this list probably more for how consistently he gets goals each season than for being a true goal machine. With 49 goals in his MLS career thus far, Arnaud is currently playing with DC United and starting almost every game of their campaign so far this season. With seven caps with the U.S. national team under his belt, Arnaud doesn’t have much of an international reputation as he’s also played his entire career in the MLS, but his veteran presence comes in handy – particularly for Kansas City, where he peaked with nine goals in the 2004 season.
9. Alvaro Saborio — Real Salt Lake — 58 Goals
Also known by his nickname “Pipe”, Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio has scored a total of 56 goals thus far in his MLS career, highlighted by a successful stint in Utah: Saborio has so far peaked with 17 goals scored during the 2012 season after coming to the team from a loan at Bristol City, and won MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2010. A regular for the Costa Rica national team, Saborio is expected to feature for them once again at the World Cup in Brazil this summer, and his role at the front of Real Salt Lake’s attack is expected to be consistent.
8. Mike Magee — Chicago Fire — 59 Goals
After being traded to the Fire from the Los Angeles Galaxy last season, Mike Magee took the opportunity to go to his home state club by the horns; netting a career-high 15 goals in 21 games. The native of Elmhurst, Illinois has won the MLS Cup twice while with the Galaxy, and has a current tally of 58 goals in his MLS career. Magee has yet to feature once for the U.S. national team despite being called up for the January Camp earlier this year, and is also eligible for the Republic of Ireland, with former Galaxy teammate Robbie Keane recommending him to Irish manager Martin O’Neill.
7. Conor Casey — Philadelphia Union — 60 Goals
Formerly a prospect with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, Colorado native Conor Casey spent quite a few years in Germany before moving back home to have a more successful career in the MLS. Moving to his hometown Colorado Rapids after a brief two-game stint at Toronto FC proved successful, netting 16 times in the 2009 season as part of his 60-goal tally in the MLS thus far. Casey currently plies his trade with the Philadelphia Union, where he found the net 10 times last season, but has yet to find it once – or start games very often – this season.
6. Eddie Johnson — DC United — 64 Goals
Eddie Johnson has seen interesting trends throughout his career. He first established himself as a young MLS star at the turn of the 2000s with FC Dallas and Kansas City before moving overseas to Fulham. He failed to establish himself at Craven Cottage, and returned to the MLS in 2012, where he’s been ever since; boasting a tally of 64 goals over the course of his MLS career. He’s also returned to the U.S. national team following a self-imposed exile, and is likely to feature in Jürgen Klinsmann’s 23-man squad at the World Cup in Brazil this summer – his first appearance at the biggest showcase in soccer since appearing twice at the 2006 tournament in Germany.
5. Kenny Cooper — Seattle Sounders — 75 Goals
While he never quite made the grade in Europe – he was once a Manchester United prospect – Kenny Cooper’s MLS accomplishments have spoken bigger volumes. The native of Baltimore has found the back of the net 74 times in his MLS career, reaching a peak of 18 goals twice; for FC Dallas in 2008 and the New York Red Bulls in 2012. His MLS career was briefly interrupted by two short-lived stints at TSV 1860 München and Plymouth Argyle, but Cooper’s return to the MLS has been successful even if the current Seattle Sounders man has played for a different team each of the last four seasons.
4. Chris Wondolowski — San Jose Earthquakes — 84 Goals
The player otherwise known as “Wondo” has just entered his 30s, but his accomplishments on the pitch for the Earthquakes as far as goals are concerned speak for themselves. Chris Wondolowski has 84 goals in his MLS career under his belt thus far, reaching his peak during the 2012 season by netting 27 times in 32 games. Wondo also has two MLS Cups that he won with Houston in two consecutive seasons, and was part of the United States national team that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup last year. Expect this goal machine to try for an even more serious challenge for the all-time leaderboard this season.
3. Edson Buddle — Colorado Rapids — 99 Goals
Although his biggest international accomplishment may be making the squad at the World Cup in South Africa four years ago, Edson Buddle’s reputation in the MLS is most certainly higher. Approaching the age of 33, this native of New Rochelle, New York has seen the peak of his goalscoring powers previously with the Los Angeles Galaxy, getting 17 balls in the back of the net in 2010 and winning the MLS Cup with the Galaxy two years later. Now plying his trade with the Colorado Rapids, Buddle has a chance to bolster his current 99-goal tally, although he’s only scored once so far this season.
2. Dwayne de Rosario — Toronto FC — 103 Goals
Back with hometown club Toronto FC after a couple of stints at DC United and New York Red Bulls (and previously the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo), Dwayne de Rosario has racked up a total of 103 goals in his history as an MLS player. Being the all-time leading scorer of the Canadian national team at age 35 isn’t a bad accomplishment either, even if Canada’s team has had nothing to celebrate since 1986. The player they call “De-Ro” is still getting goals for a TFC team boasting Jermain Defoe, Julio Cesar and Michael Bradley among their list of key players.
1. Landon Donovan — Los Angeles Galaxy — 134 Goals
Is there a more celebrated and accomplished player in American soccer’s history? Even though his career has mostly been spent in the MLS with a few short stints in Europe in between, Landon Donovan has earned his huge reputation thanks to his time with the San Jose Earthquakes and currently with the Los Angeles Galaxy, not to mention the fact that he’s about to go to his fourth – and likely last – World Cup with the United States.. With 134 goals, Donovan is tied with Jeff Cunningham for the all-time league record, and needs to get only one more ball in the back of the net to break it.