The 22 ex-Premier League players now playing in MLS: Vela, Bale…

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Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela during a MLS match against the Austin FC, Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at the Banc of California Stadium, in Los Angeles.

Major League Soccer is home to plenty of former Premier League players – and a number have taken the league by storm.

While some ex-Premier League players are seeing out their playing careers in America, there are also some younger players that have moved Stateside.

We’ve taken a look at the 22 players that have Premier League experience and are currently playing in MLS.

Ashley Fletcher

A Manchester United academy graduate, Fletcher never played for their first team but did make 16 Premier League appearances for West Ham in 2016-17.

After dropping down to the Championship with Middlesbrough and Sunderland, the striker returned to the Premier League with Watford in the summer of 2021.

But he played just 27 minutes of top-flight football for the Hornets before joining New York Red Bulls in an initial loan deal which includes an option to buy.

Victor Wanyama

The only footballer to rival Wayne Rooney for iconic tweets, Wanyama made a total of 154 Premier League appearances during his stints at Southampton and Tottenham.

But he was plagued by injury problems during his final year at Tottenham and joined a Thierry Henry-led CF Montreal in March 2020.

The defensive midfielder is one of the first names on the team sheet for the MLS side and helped them win the Canadian Championship in 2021. More importantly, he continues to love spaghetti.

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 CF Montreal alongside Wanyama.

Tyler Blackett

The second Manchester United academy graduate on this list, Blackett made 11 Premier League appearances under Louis van Gaal in 2014-15 but was then deemed surplus to requirements.

After five years in the Championship with Reading and Nottingham Forest, the defender decided to FC Cincinnati on a free transfer in 2021.

He had a disastrous start to life in America, finishing on the losing side in his first 13 MLS matches before finally getting a win in March 2022.

Geoff Cameron

Cameron joined Stoke City in 2012 and proved to be a hit in the Premier League, making 168 appearances in the competition across six seasons.

The defender then had three years at Queens Park Rangers before deciding to return to his native America with FC Cincinnati in 2021. He is still a first-team regular at the age of 37 but misses their away games in Canada because he won’t get vaccinated.

Alexandre Pato

Pato’s loan spell at Chelsea in 2019 brought a goal return of one every 131 minutes, which sounds alright until you realise he played – you guessed it – 131 minutes.

The 32-year-old has since had spells in Spain, China and his native Brazil before moving to America with Orlando City in 2021.

Alexandre Pato of AC Milan and Brazil, September 2009

READ: Remembering Pato at Milan: one of the greatest wonderkids ever

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 recently won the Landon Donovan MVP award, which is given to whoever is deemed the most valuable player in MLS.

Jozy Altidore

Fans in England will remember Altidore as the goal-shy striker who scored a grand total of two goals in 70 Premier League appearances during stints at Hull City and Sunderland.

But he rediscovered his goalscoring touch after returning to MLS with Toronto, scoring 62 goals in 139 league games for the Canadian side.

The 32-year-old left Toronto in February 2022 but has remained in MLS with New England Revolution.

Christian Fuchs

One of only three Premier League winners on this list, Fuchs joined Leicester City in 2015 and was a key part of the team that stunned the football world.

The left-back also picked up an FA Cup winners’ medal in 2021 before joining Charlotte FC, who joined MLS for the first time in 2022.

His move to America could also help the 36-year-old realise his dream of becoming an NFL kicker.

“I’ve tried out with NFL coaches and they were impressed so there’s potential,” he told FourFourTwo in 2021. “I was up in the top 30 per cent of NFL kickers without having any specialist coaching.”

Kieran Gibbs

Once labelled by Arsene Wenger as the next Ashley Cole, Gibbs failed to live up to those expectations but still made 180 Premier League appearances during his time at Arsenal and West Brom.

The left-back left the Baggies at the end of the 2020-21 season and joined Inter Miami, who are managed by Phil Neville and co-owned by David Beckham.

Since moving to America, he’s also become one of the first footballers to have half of their monthly salary paid in bitcoin.

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.

Brek Shea

Shea joined Stoke City in January 2013 and went on to make a grand total of three substitute appearances in the Premier League.

His most memorable moment in the Potteries came when he posted the pig’s head picture that led to an internal investigation and alerted the world to Stoke’s dressing room pranks.

The winger returned to America after loan spells at Barnsley and Birmingham and is currently at Inter Miami, his fifth different MLS club.

Gonzalo Higuain

While Higuain got over 100 goals in both La Liga and Serie A, he only scored five in the Premier League during an underwhelming loan spell at Chelsea in 2019.

He joined Inter Miami in 2020 and had a very memorable debut that saw him miss a penalty and scuff with opposition players before crying about a lack of respect.

The striker, who has scored 15 goals in 51 MLS appearances, has often had to settle for a place on Miami’s bench in 2022 but is still enjoying his life in America.

“I found the emotional and inner tranquillity that I had been looking for for a long time. I came out of that European vortex. I didn’t think I would have found myself so well,” the 34-year-old told Argentine publication Ole.

“I wanted to go back to the sensations I had with amateurism, like when I played in the lower leagues. Here there is not that mistrust, that envy.

“If a journalist is critical, he does it with respect. We always arrive two hours before the game, my daughter can go on to the pitch with my wife: there are fewer rules, everything is more natural.

“You play only on weekends, so during the week you can relax. MLS is a very nice league to play in and makes you happy even off the pitch.”

Alejandro Pozuelo

Pozuelo didn’t make much of an impression on the Premier League, failing to score in 22 league appearances during his solitary season at Swansea City in 2013-14.

But he’s made a huge impact in the MLS, scoring 30 goals in 100 appearances in all competitions for Toronto and winning the Landon Donovan MVP Award in 2020.

The Spaniard recently moved across the border and joined Inter Miami, a move which will allow Toronto to sign Fernando Bernadeschi on a Designated Player deal.

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 37-year-old doesn’t plan on hanging up his gloves anytime soon and hopes to be playing in 2023.

Emerson Hyndman

Admittedly, Hyndman only ever made two Premier League appearances during his time at Bournemouth but that’s still two more than most people make.

After loan spells at Rangers, Hibernian and Atlanta United, he joined the latter on a permanent deal in 2020 and has since become a key player for the MLS side.

Michael Bradley

After impressing Gerard Houllier with his performances at the 2010 World Cup, Bradey joined Aston Villa on loan in January 2011 but made just three substitute appearances in the Premier League.

He spent the following three years in Italy with Chievo and Roma before leaving European shores and completing an £8.18million move to Toronto, where he has become a bona fide club legend.

The former USMNT captain has won the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup during his 275 appearances for the Canadian side and is still going strong as he approaches his 35th birthday.

Brad Smith

A Liverpool academy graduate, Smith featured in five Premier League games for the Reds and also made a handful of top-flight appearances during his time at Bournemouth.

After being deemed surplus to requirements by the Cherries, the Australia international spent time on loan at Seattle Sounders and Cardiff City before joining the former on a permanent deal in 2020.

He’s now turning out for DC United, who have just named former Everton and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney as their new manager.

Xherdan Shaqiri

After playing for two of European football’s heavyweights in Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, Shaqiri raised a few eyebrows with his £12million move to Stoke City in 2015.

He remained with the Potters until their relegation in 2018 and then became a good squad player for Liverpool as they won the Premer League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.

The Switzerland international had a brief stint at Lyon before joining Chicago Fire in 2022 and signing a contract worth $7.35million a year, making him the second-highest earner in the MLS after Lorenzo Insigne.

Carlos Vela

If only someone had written about how Vela’s career has panned out. Oh, right…

Carlos-Vela-LAFC-MLS

READ: The seven stages of Carlos Vela’s career: Arsenal wonderkid to LA star

Gareth Bale

The latest former Premier League star to move to the MLS, Bale came through Southampton’s academy and then developed into one of the best players in the world during his time at Tottenham.

He then had a trophy-laden nine-year stint at Real Madrid before receiving offers from Cardiff City and Los Angeles FC. Ultimately, the winger picked California over a return to his hometown and we can’t exactly blame him.

“I still have many years to come,” Bale said at his unveiling. “I want to give myself the best opportunity to go to the next Euros or maybe even further.

“I want to make my mark on this league and I think by being here it gives me the best chance of going to the Euros and you never know maybe one more.

“My plan is to really work hard – it’s a very physical league but I’m really looking forward to getting up to speed and getting started.”

The 32-year-old is yet to make his MLS debut but has already managed to piss off MARCA by doing an interview in Spanish. What a shithouse.

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.


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