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22 MLS players set to represent league at World Cup

Michael Bradley TFC MLS


With the late addition of Chivas USA’s Oswaldo Minda to the Ecuador World Cup squad due to injury Monday, Major League Soccer can claim 22 representatives in Brazil.

Outside of the U.S. Men’s National Team, 11 players will represent MLS when the World Cup kicks off on Thursday. Including the USMNT, the total is 22, with 43 percent of the American squad coming from MLS.

That figure of 22 includes a player who has yet to actually play in MLS, but who has signed on to play in MLS in 2015. Spanish national team striker David Villa will be hoping to lead Spain to a repeat World Cup title.

The U.S. World Cup squad this year represents the league prominently, but not as much as some previous years. MLS claimed a high of 16 USMNT players in 1998 and 12 players both in 2006 and 2002. The 2010 World Cup was an all-time low, with just four MLS players.

When it comes to national teams represented by their country’s domestic league, Russia is tops with all of their players coming from careers at home. England comes close, with 22 of 23 players coming from the English Premier League.

The EPL will be the most represented league in Brazil with 110 players in the tournament. Liga MX will be represented by 24 players.

Here’s a look at the players from MLS who will be in Brazil:


Tim Cahill, forward, New York Red Bulls


Julio Cesar, goalkeeper, Toronto FC


Giancarlo González, defender, Columbus Crew

Waylon Francis, defender Columbus Crew

Roy Miller, defender, New York Red Bulls


Oswaldo Minda, midfielder, Chivas USA


Victor Bernardez, defender, San Jose Earthquakes

Marvin Chavez, midfielder, Chivas USA

Oscar Boniek Garcia, midfielder, Houston Dynamo

Jerry Bengtson, forward, New England Revolution


David Villa, forward, New York City FC


Steven Beitashour, defender, Vancouver Whitecaps


Nick Rimando, goalkeeper, Real Salt Lake

Matt Besler, defender, Sporting Kansas City

Omar Gonzalez, defender, Los Angeles Galaxy

DeAndre Yedlin, defender, Seattle Sounders FC

Kyle Beckerman, midfielder, Real Salt Lake

Michael Bradley, midfielder, Toronto FC

Brad Davis, midfielder, Houston Dynamo

Graham Zusi, midfielder, Sporting Kansas City

Clint Dempsey, forward, Seattle Sounders FC

Chris Wondolowski, forward, San Jose Earthquakes


What do you think of the MLS players heading to the World Cup? Which players do you see having a big tournament?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. At the moment, even playing in the 4th German league was good enough to make it into the US squad. Which tells a lot about the level of football in the MLS.

    >30 MLS players in 2018 is only possible if Canada qualifies.

  2. Why is David Villa even on this list? He has not played one game in MLS and New York City FC has yet to play one game as a club.

    I think 2018 WC will yield >30 MLS players. Just my wishes.

      • Nasri is considered a troublemaker and has a bad relationship with the coach and a few players. I think Sabella, the Argentinian manager, just doesn’t rate Tevez.

        Donovan being dropped is the biggest shock so far, but Obafemi Martins is a big miss too, I think Nigeria will regret leaving him out. I heard on Soccer Morning that Martins doesn’t fit into their system because they will play a 4-3-3 and he is better in a 4-4-2.

  3. are u seriously telling me the no.1 for Brazil players for Toronto FC?

    hahahahahahahah. do they really have no better options?

    • Yes that is correct. Toronto FC decided to go with a player favored to win the World Cup…it was their best option.

      What is your point ? and why are you laughing. ?

  4. Any way to compare this with other second and third tier leagues around the world. Would be interesting to see how MLS stacks up

    • MLS is arguably on level with the Championship and 2 Bundesliga but salaries are on level with League 1 (3rd division England)

  5. A great analysis would be the number of foreign national team players selected by league. How does the 10 from MLS compare to the 24 from Mexico, minus the Mexican internationals. Quickly checking I think 15 of Mexico’s 23 play in Liga MX, so that would mean liga MX is sending 8 non-local country players to Brasil.

    There are some leagues like Iran that have a high number, but nearly all are playing for the Iranian NT.

    • But I’m not sure if that’s fair because there are some decent teams/leagues around the world that are reknowned for quality but in practice either underpay or don’t actually pay their players. Latin American countries, Caribbean, Africa. Brazil has an excellent domestic league — on a par with Europeans — that people flee to get a paycheck. Ditto most of these African teams, which tend to empty out to the cultural metropole (France, England), because there I can make money. I don’t think that means the Ghanaian league stinks. MLS itself benefits from a hemispheric infusion of people from nations that pay their players less. It is also good enough that it serves as a NT foundation, such that our players don’t have to leave to develop up to a decent level (but can), but part of its virtue as a global league is simply the power of the dollar and the magnet of relative suburban safety and checks that arrive when they’re supposed to.

      • Let’s not overlook the fact that the US is also a very attractive place to live. Guys like Beckham and now Keane really like it here; Beckham has returned and the way Keane talks he probably wouldn’t leave even if he got a better offer. I remember one English commentator quoting an EPL coach from a smaller city saying they had trouble getting some of the better players b ecause the wives and families prefer to live in London. Similarly, would you prefer to live in Mexico or a major city in the US? A city like Lille or New York? The US as a country has a lot to offer.

  6. This is a great list thanks for putting it together would be interesting to compare it with a list from say the 2002 World Cup.

  7. “When it comes to national teams represented by their country’s domestic league, Russia is tops with all of their players coming from careers at home. England comes close, with 22 of 23 players coming from the English Premier League.”

    It’s a fair observation that Russians and English don’t do well as “imports” in other leagues. I wonder if that means that they are developed in a specific way suited only to their particular soccer style/culture. Correlation or causation?

    • It also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to leave England. Think about the reasons American’s leave the USA. They want a chance to play for the best teams (plenty of whom are in England), the money is better in Europe (Englands right at the top salary wise), and they want the chance to play against the best competition (the best top level week-in week-out competition is in England). There’s just really no reason to leave unless its for playing time I guess.

      • A lot of the English people we see are one foot in the retirement home (Beckham) or someone like Barnes who struggled to find footing but have self belief and want to re-state their case outside the pyramid. Right now we’d rarely if ever see a prime age player because we’d be a pay cut and a risk to international play based on their own MLS conception.

        We’re not getting Bale so judging them like they’re sending Bale but instead what we get is John Rooney would be harsh.

      • Look at the comment a couple spaces below, I know he’s Welsh. My point is you can’t judge how well EPL players would fit here by the standard of people we usually get. We generally get washouts (or to be fair, people who feel they’ve not gotten a fair shot) and retireees.

        How Beckham faired suggests if we got a higher standard of player more often Brits might be quite helpful in our league.

        If there are players who can’t stand the physicality or speed of play of MLS, it’s not Brits, they at the lower levels play hoofball and knock each other around. They get stuck in. It would be more continentals that couldn’t stand getting tackled and the lunchpail work.

      • We also share the same language and similar culture. That’s why a number of Mexican players migrate to La Liga.

    • Can’t speak for the Russians but I wouldn’t say the English necessarily fail or struggle in foreign leagues, more so they lack the desire to move abroad when they have such a strong and well paying league at home.

    • Russian oil money pays well, and the league is decent. So I can see how they keep many of their people. I think the issue for them is cultural, there may be some insularity and there also may be a language barrier. Not like an English or Spanish language person who can basically go anywhere in a diaspora. Otherwise, they have many good players who surely would be in demand abroad if they were so inclined. They would be in demand in places where they could make decent money, too. And I don’t buy style because there are an array of soccer leagues to choose from. Surely one or more styles would fit Russian players.

      Similarly, I don’t buy UK players play some non-transferable way that doesn’t travel. Look at Bale, who while Welsh is a UK player doing just fine abroad. I just think the home league and money is so good there is no necessity to go abroad unless you are some elite player wanting a new challenge. Otherwise the UK coaches respect EPL credentials, and the league prepares you for international rigors. The language is transferable to other leagues, although to be real, they are top of their language heap. Again, I’d see it as cultural, there is not as big of an American or emerging nation notion that spreading your wings may involve or require a move abroad (our Euro obsession). Even if the EPL doesn’t regularly dominate the UCL, they think of their league as sufficient for all you need.

      The only other breed of English player that goes abroad are people like Hargreaves that weren’t prototype Englishmen to begin with. All the more reason to see it as cultural becase those not bred in it seem to have a different approach, ie, I’m off to Germany.

  8. England could probably use the goal scoring exploits of Jermain Defoe and Bradley Wright-Phillips after their friendly showing against CONCACAF power Honduras.

    • Defoe got hurt at the wrong time for a marginal player trying to make a case in an unorthodox league.

    • Defoe has always been more on the fringes of the england squad for whatever reason; BWP for England? As the English say, you’re having a laugh.

    • no way DEFOE would improve the squad. His best shot was from 2010-2012. He failed. Wellbeck and Carroll and Sturridge (to a degree) were younger and coming up through the ranks and he failed to stamp his mark on a starting spot along with Rooney.

      scoring in MLS isn’t impressive to Hodgson

      • If I recall he scored a pretty important goal for England against Slovenia… a 0-0 draw to Slovenia would have seen England finish in 3rd and eliminated on goal difference, goals scored tie breaker…

      • Andy Carroll is utterly useless. He is a poor man’s Brian McBride. Can’t believe that he is/was considered for the English national team.

  9. Realistically, Julio Cesar has a legitimate shot at being the first active MLS player to win a World Cup. That is a minor but important barrier that needs to be broken down.


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