Top Stories

A look at the current and former MLS players heading to the World Cup


Major League Soccer’s influence on soccer’s top stage is growing, even without the presence of the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Nineteen current MLS players will participate in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while a handful of former MLS stars are headed to eastern Europe as well.

Mexico could be Concacaf’s best hope to shine in Russia, and El Tri’s roster holds three of the biggest names in MLS in Carlos Vela, Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos.

Panama and Costa Rica boast the largest MLS delegations in Russia, with six representing each Concacaf nation.

Michael Amir Murillo, Harold Cummings, Fidel Escobar, Adolfo Machado, Roman Torres and Anibal Godoy are the MLSers on the Panama roster, while most of the 23-man squad put together by Hernan Dario Gomez has MLS experience, including Blas Perez and Jaime Penedo.

Kendall Waston. Francisco Calvo, Ronald Matarrita, Rodney Wallace, David Guzman and Marco Urena are the current MLS players leading the Ticos. Johan Venegas is still owned by Minnesota United, but he’s loan at Saprissa.

Giancarlo Gonzalez and Christian Bolanos are the former MLS players on Oscar Ramirez’s squad.

Portland’s Andy Polo and Orlando City’s Yoshimar Yotun are part of Peru’s 23-man squad, while Seattle’s Gustav Svensson will be playing for Sweden and LAFC’s Omer Gaber is on Egypt’s roster.

Other former MLS players participating in Russia include Mexico’s Rafa Marquez. Australia’s Tim Cahill and Switzerland’s Blerim Dzemaili.

Here’s a full look at which current and former MLS stars are bound for Russia:

Current MLS Players on World Cup Rosters


Michael Amir Murillo (New York Red Bulls)

Fidel Escobar (New York Red Bulls)

Harold Cummings (San Jose Earthquakes)

Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders)

Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo)

Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes)

Costa Rica 

Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United)

Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Ronald Matarrita (New York City FC)

Rodney Wallace (New York City FC)

David Guzman (Portland Timbers)

Marco Urena (LAFC)

Johan Venegas (Minnesota United; on loan at Saprissa)


Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)

Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy)

Carlos Vela (LAFC)


Andy Polo (Portland Timbers)

Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City)


Omer Gaber (LAFC)


Gustav Svensson (Seattle Sounders)

Former MLS Players on World Cup Rosters


Jaime Penedo

Blas Perez

Gabriel Gomez

Armando Cooper

Alberto Quintero

Gabriel Torres

Costa Rica

Giancarlo Gonzalez

Christian Bolanos


Rafa Marquez


Tim Cahill


Blerim Dzemaili



  1. Short list. And I don’t know how the Dos Santos brothers made it..

    Even more telling is how, Gioancarlo Gonzalez aside, not a single player in the World Cup really got their start in MLS or used their time in the league to advance their careers.

    Hopefully this changes in the next 4 years with more investments in younger players, development and not being afraid to let players move up to bigger leagues.

  2. “Major League Soccer’s influence on soccer’s top stage is growing, even without the presence of the U.S. Men’s National Team.”

    I’d love to see some data that actually backs up this assertion. I’m not saying it is not true, but there’s nothing in this article to support it. To me, the numbers of non-US MLS players in this tournament does not immediately look larger than past World Cups. And if it is, that seems like it could be attributed to the presence of 2 non-US, non-Mexico CONCACAF sides, rather than the typical one.

    • The LA Times had a very similar article and had an answer to your question. For the last World Cup there were 21 MLS players involved, but 10 of them were on the US team. That means 11 were members of other national teams compared to 19 this time. While it didn’t go farther back in time, for those who have been following MLS, there is no doubt that in 2010 and before there wouldn’t have been more than 11 non-US players going to the WC from MLS.


Leave a Comment