11 players you might not realise were in MLS: Onouha, Mancienne, Emnes

Quick Reads

Former Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal men are among the former Premier League players you may not have realised are now plying their trade in MLS.

Last week gave MLS clubs a final chance to sign players for the current season before the 2018 roster freeze deadline.

Most clubs had completed their business by then, and a number of familiar faces can be found in the competition.

Nedum Onouha

One of MLS’ most recent recruits, Onouha brought a six-year association with QPR to an end when his contract expired at the Championship club over the summer.

Despite interest from clubs in England, including one in the Premier League, the 31-year-old instead opted to join Real Salt Lake City.

“I have always been someone that wanted to go an experience something a bit different,” he told the BBC.

“I spoke to a few Championship clubs quite close to here [his home in Manchester], one in the Premier League, but it didn’t quite feel right and I didn’t want to retire thinking, ‘I wish I had done this.'”

Dairon Asprilla

The first of three sons with fathers who Premier League fans will be familiar with.

Asprilla, whose dad Tino was a famous renegade at Newcastle United, has spent the last three years at Portland Timbers.

Though he has been in and out of the side, spending time on loan back in Colombia in 2016, last season was the attacker’s best in MLS as he contributed three goals and four assists.

This summer we caught up with former Newcastle defender Robbie Elliott in Portland, and he had a few good stories to tell about Asprilla Sr.

READ: Robbie Elliott: Asprilla lost his deposit as there were bullet holes in the walls

Bacary Sagna

Sagna had already made one move which made you double take in 2018 when he joined Serie A outfit Benevento for the second half of last season, leaving the club in the summer upon their relegation.

The former Arsenal and Manchester City right-back then opted to join Montreal Impact, immediately establishing himself in the starting XI.

Michael Mancienne

We’re not quite sure how Mancienne is somehow now 30 years old, but reminders we’re all hurtling towards death can come in many surprising forms.

Once a highly-rated prospect at Chelsea, the defender made the leap many English youngsters are taking now by moving to Germany to join Hamburg.

After three years in the Bundesliga, Mancienne returned to England with Nottingham Forest before joining New England Revolution in August.

Krisztián Németh

Liverpool fans will recognise the name but are likely to be unfamiliar with the Sporting Kansas City striker’s playing style, given he never actually appeared for the Reds in three years at the club.

READ: The story of the two Hungarian strikers who went to Liverpool but never played

Chris Mavinga

Formerly of PSG and Liverpool, Mavinga failed to fulfil his early potential, which at one point had Arsenal interested in the defender.

After spending the majority of his career in France, the DR Congo international moved to MLS in 2017 to join Toronto, helping his new club win the MLS Cup in his debut season.

Brad Smith

Completing a hat-trick of forgotten Liverpool men, Smith made 11 appearances for the Reds, registering a goal, an assist and a red card in a brief career in the first team at Anfield.

Liverpool included a buyback clause when the left-back joined Bournemouth in a £4.5million move in 2016, although that is unlikely to be exercised.

The Australia international has made just 10 appearances in two years on the south coast and was loaned out to Seattle Sounders in August.

At least he gets to live in a pretty cool city.

READ: Away Days: Chasing the American dream in New York, Seattle & Portland

Marvin Emnes

We assumed Emnes was still on loan at Swansea or Blackburn, but it turns out the forward actually spent 2017-18 at Turkish side Akhisar Belediyespor.

Now 30, the former Holland youth international is another player to recently join Vancouver.

Brek Shea

Let’s get the boring bit out of the way: former Stoke, Birmingham and Barnsley man Shea is currently playing for Vancouver Whitecaps after moving to the Canadian outfit in 2017.

Right, now let’s get on to the story about the Stoke dressing room and a pig’s head, which Shea posed with in 2013 and resulted in the Potters launching an investigation as Kenwyne Jones threw a brick through Glen Whelan’s car window.

Peter Crouch has explained the incident in his new book, How To Be A Footballer: “There was a dark period at Stoke in 2013 that began innocently enough with Matty Etherington getting his new leather jacket flushed down the training-ground toilets.

“Quickly, however, it got out of hand. Etherington decided to take his revenge by taking a load of mouldy fish-bits, like old kipper heads, and putting them in the shoes and car of Jon Walters, who he suspected of the jacket theft.

“Walters then escalated it at pace by getting a severed pig’s head from a local butcher’s – still covered in blood – wrapping it in Matty’s jeans and putting it in his locker.

“Matty found it and put it in Glenn Whelan’s, except rather than Glenn Whelan’s he accidentally put it in Kenwyne Jones’s.

“Before you know it, Kenwyne has lost the plot and is putting a brick through Glenn Whelan’s car window, and Glenn is threatening to go round Kenwyne’s house, which we all knew was a bad idea, because Kenwyne was a well-built individual.”

And here’s that photo of Shea with said pig’s head…

Jack Barmby

Another attacker plying his trade for the Timbers, Barmby is the son of former Liverpool and England man Nick Barmby.

The 23-year-old was on the books at Manchester United and Leicester City as a youngster, and also spent time out on loan at Rotherham and Notts County.

He initially joined Portland on loan in 2016 and is now settled on the west coast.

Ian Harkes

Supporters of Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, West Ham and Nottingham Forest will remember Harkes’ father, John, who played in England throughout the 1990s and also captained the USA national side.

As a result of his dad’s time in England, Ian was born in Derby but has spent his entire playing career in the States.

The 23-year-old midfielder counts Wayne Rooney among his team-mates at DC United.


More from Planet Football

Away Days: Chasing the American dream in New York, Seattle & Portland

How Wayne Rooney has helped transform DC United’s MLS form

What a football club is meant to be – A Brit on the Seattle Sounders experience

Can you name every player from the USA to score in the Premier League?