An XI of ex-Premier League players you had no idea are playing in MLS
The MLS has long held a reputation for being particularly welcoming to stars of yesteryear. Lionel Messi is just the latest ageing veteran to see out his twilight years – but which familiar names will he be facing off against?
There was a time in the not-too-distant past where, if you were unsure where a former Premier League player was plying his trade, an educated guess of ‘America’ would see you be right more often than wrong.
And we’ve had little trouble compiling an XI of ex-Premier League stars currently playing their football stateside.
GK: Brad Guzan
Guzan made over 150 Premier League appearances but returned to his native America in 2017 after suffering back-to-back relegations from the top-flight with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.
The goalkeeper joined Atlanta United during their inaugural campaign and has been their No.1 for the last five years, helping them win the MLS Cup, U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup.
Despite suffering a suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in his right leg in April 2022, the 38-year-old is still playing professional football. Which is nice.
RB: DeAndre Yedlin
After an impressive World Cup campaign for the USA in 2014, Yedlin left Seattle Sounders FC and joined Tottenham but made just one Premier League appearance for the club.
The right-back had a loan spell at Sunderland before crossing the Tyne-Wear divide and spending four-and-half years at Newcastle United.
He then had a brief stint in Turkey with Galatasaray before returning to America in February 2022, signing a four-year contract with Inter Miami.
CB: Danny Wilson
One of Roy Hodgson’s ill-fated signings at Liverpool, Wilson spent time at Blackpool, Bristol City, Hearts and Rangers before signing for Colorado Rapids in 2018.
The defender has made over 100 appearances for the Rapids, making himself at home in South Park country.
CB: Matt Miazga
After spending years on Chelsea’s books, sent to obscure corners of the European continent without much chance of breaking into the first team at Stamford Bridge, Miazga now plays for FC Cincinnati.
He’s made 27 appearances since moving back home in 2022, but didn’t make the USMNT squad for last year’s World Cup.
LB: Bryan Oviedo
A cult hero at Everton after scoring the winner at Old Trafford in 2013, Oviedo’s time at Goodison Park and Sunderland indicated that the Costa Rica full-back was a real sucker for punishment.
He spent three years at FC Copenhagen before moving to Real Salt Lake in 2022.
— Everton (@Everton) February 18, 2017
DM: Ashley Westwood
After years in the Premier League, Westwood now earns his corn at FC Charlotte, a club where Christian Fuchs is on the coaching staff.
“The professionalism, the way they work, the way they train and the hard work we’ve done so far this first week has been incredible,” Westwood told the media Tuesday from the club’s preseason training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Westwood added: “The work that the staff have done – for me, the way the set-up is here, it’s a proper Premier League club. It’s something the club should be very, very proud of.”
RW: Kei Kamara
Kamara has spent most of his career in America but did have a 19-month stint in England.
The striker scored one goal in 11 Premier League appearances during a loan spell at Norwich City in the second half of the 2012-13 season and then joined Middlesbrough in the Championship.
He’s since played for six different MLS sides and is currently turning out for Chicago Fire.
CM: Mateusz Klich
Klich said an emotional goodbye to Leeds United at the start of 2023 before switching to DC United.
The Poland international made 195 appearances for Leeds and was pivotal in helping the club complete a long-awaited Premier League return under Marcelo Bielsa in 2020.
“I saw that the coach was messing with the squad, throwing other players in different positions, and not taking me into account at all, although, for example, in the previous match I played well,” he said about Jesse Marsch after leaving Elland Road.
“Eventually, I started to get nervous. It was pure ambition.”
Klich has made 14 appearances for DC United, scoring twice, and has established himself as an important part of the MLS side’s midfield.
Klich’s just having a good time ⚽️🥊 pic.twitter.com/jQtYTAqril
— D.C. United (@dcunited) May 21, 2023
CM: Carles Gil
Scorer of one of the Premier League’s greatest forgotten goals, Gil is best remembered in England for being part of the dismal Aston Villa side that suffered relegation in 2015-16.
After two-and-a-half years back in his native Spain with Deportivo La Coruna, the midfielder joined the New England Revolution in a $2million deal in January 2019.
He has been a revelation in America and has previously won the Landon Donovan MVP award, which is given to whoever is deemed the most valuable player in MLS.
LW: Cucho Hernandez
After five years at Watford, which admittedly included three loan spells in Spain, Hernandez joined Columbus Crew in 2022 for a club-record fee of $10 million.
And, with nine goals in 16 appearances during his first season, the Colombia international has certainly lived up to his billing.
ST: Javier Hernandez
One of the greatest super-subs in Premier League history, Hernandez scored 53 league goals during his time at Manchester United and West Ham and they all came from inside the penalty area.
The Mexico international replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic at LA Galaxy in January 2020 but was seemingly heartbroken at the prospect of waving goodbye to top-level European football.
“It’s almost certain that I’m going to LA,” he said in an emotional interview. “It’s okay, everything is perfect, it’s only that, well it’s like the beginning of my retirement.
“What I mean is that we’re saying goodbye to a career that we put a lot of effort on and we worked, and I know you guys also feel it. We’re going to look at the bright side, but whether we like it or not we are retiring from the European dream.”
Those comments didn’t go down particularly well with LA Galaxy fans, and he had a difficult debut season. But the 34-year-old has since turned things around and now captains the MLS side.