15 players we can’t believe are still playing in MLS in 2022: Pato, Fuchs…

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Orlando City forward ALEXANDRE PATO (7) reacts after a goal is scored during the Orlando City vs Nashville SC soccer match at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL on October 31, 2021.

The USA: the land of the free and home of the brave… as well as a bunch of footballers you thought were retired by now.

Major League Soccer has become an increasingly competitive league and is now some way from the ‘retirement home’ it was once labelled as, but there is still a fair share of players who have left Europe to play out their final few years in US cities, from New York to LA to… Cincinnati?

Beyond earning a good bit of money before they retire, MLS now offers players the chance to play at a considerably higher level than it once did and to work within some impressively run football clubs amongst some of the game’s best up and coming youngsters.

It’s particularly appealing to those whose home countries are nearby, but lots of veritable European legends find the opportunity to be in the USA just too good to turn down too.

So here are 15 players we can’t believe are still playing football in MLS in 2022.

Gonzalo Higuain

Alright, we all know Higuain is out at David Beckham’s new Inter Miami team, but he’s still got to be included in this list.

His record isn’t actually too bad, having scored 15 goals in 44 MLS appearances for Miami, but the poor form of his team and questions over his fitness has marred the prevailing view of his time in Florida.

It peaked recently when his father said the Argentine would retire… only for Higuain Jr. himself to declare that he wasn’t going anywhere.

“It was a misunderstanding he had with me,” he said.

“I never told him I was retiring. He misspoke, and that can happen, but this is very far from reality.

“When the time comes, if that decision is made, I will be the one communicating it, only me.”

Christian Fuchs

Incredibly, Fuchs didn’t just win the Premier League with Leicester but he won the FA Cup too.

Yes, the Austrian left-back was somehow still at the club, presumably sneaking around at the training ground trying not to get noticed until he could depart with another winners medal to his name.

At 36, he now plays for Charlotte FC who joined MLS for the first time in 2022. In his spare time, he runs his brand “No Fuchs Given” which doesn’t just deal in sensational names, but clothes and, for some reason, vodka as well.

Fair enough Christian, fair enough.

Keiran Gibbs

Thrice an FA Cup Winner, Gibbs is another member of Inter Miami’s FIFA 13 career mode of a team.

Once labeled by Arsene Wenger as the next Ashley Cole, he never quite hit the same heights as his predecessor at Arsenal left-back and left West Brom on a free last season to move to the USA.

He’s one of the younger players on this list at 32, but he’s only managed to play in one of Miami’s five games so far this season and found himself injured early on in the campaign.

READ: Where are they now? Arsenal’s youngest ever starting Xl from 2008

Brad Guzan

Guzan will turn 38 before the end of Major League Soccer’s 2022 season, but we’re not even sure it will be his last.

He’s been Atlanta’s No.1 almost since their inception and has made 138 appearances for the side since he moved back to the USA in 2017. It’s not as if he’s limping on, either; the former Villa and shot stopped has continuously remained near or at the top of the stats for goalkeepers in MLS.

His contract runs until at least 2023 and he continues to be called up by the national team, although not as a starter.

Geoff Cameron

Whereas before a lot of USA internationals would only get their big break if they left the country to go abroad, an increasing number get their chances domestically before being picked up by top-flight European clubs,

Cameron did that back in 2012 when after four years with Houston Dynamos he went to Stoke where he stayed for six Premier League seasons.

He’s back state-side now with FC Cincinnati, playing week in, week out at the age of 36.

It would be nice if he wasn’t a raging Trump supporter who refuses to get vaccinated so can’t play away games in Canada.

Danny Wilson

Danny Wilson was one of Liverpool’s Roy Hodgson era signings, AKA not a very good one.

He only ever made nine appearances for the club and after returning to Rangers in 2015 following his time at Hearts he’s been an MLS player with the Colorado Rapids since 2018.

Now in his fourth season at the club he’s still a regular starter at centre-back. What does that entail? Well, a lot of heading the ball into the back of the net after some of the worst defending and goalkeeping you’ll see.

READ: Where are they now? Roy Hodgson’s eight signings as Liverpool manager

Javier Hernandez

The little pea is still leaping in the air doing things he shouldn’t be able to. Turning out for LA Galaxy these days, his time at Old Trafford will always be remembered fondly.

READ: An ode to Javier Hernandez & a very unconventional backwards header

Jozy Altidore

Altidore will always be the most well-known and best-loved American on Wearside thanks to his Man of the Match performance in the North-East derby back in 2013.

That’s basically all he did there, however, and he was characterised by a consistent lack of consistency that’s plagued his career.

He’s been back in MLS since 2015 first with Toronto and now New England Revolution.

And why not? Altidore made 115 appearances for the US throughout his career, and his ability to bring out moments of class will always be remembered.

Kei Kamara

Kamara isn’t a name that will be known to many English football fans, but the Sierra Leonian international had one Premier League season with Norwich in 2012-13 as well as one Championship season with Middlesborough the following year.

Those two are part of an exclusive group of three clubs that Kamara has been a player of that aren’t in the USA. That’s despite the fact he’s played for a total of 13 clubs.

The other one not in the USA? HIFK in Finland, whom he joined at the age of 36 for one season before heading back to the MLS with Montreal at the age of 37. No, we don’t know why either.

Victor Vazquez

If you want an even more obscure player than Kamara, you’ll have to go to 35-year-old Vazquez.

A product of La Masia, he made over 150 league appearances for Barca over the course of five years as a senior player there… 149 of which were for the B or C teams.

He’s now on his second stint in the US, having played for Toronto in 2017-18 during his worldwide “sign a former Barcelona player” tour, helping them to a treble of trophies.

Now he’s back in MLS with LA Galaxy and into his second season.

Blaise Matuidi

It was a bit of a shock when Matuidi decided to leave Juventus for Inter Miami in 2020, as he had remained a starter up until he decided to leave.

Why did he want to move to the US? Well, mainly for business.

“When I see athletes here in the United States, I think they have something different to European athletes and the difference is that they know about business,” Matuidi told The Guardian.

“They are experts in their own field but they are also very focused in making other things in life, especially business.”

The other reason?

“When I heard Inter Miami was interested in signing me, David [Beckham] was a big part of my thinking, so I was happy to join his team because he is an example with his experience, what he did in his great career and now as an owner for me is something special.”

Maybe Matuidi will set up his own franchise in the future. “Balise Matuidi’s AC San Francisco,” anyone?

Carlos Vela

Bored of being an average player in La Liga, Arsenal youth product Vela moved to the new MLS team Los Angeles FC in 2018.

Well, he’s now the holder of the record for the most goals in a single MLS campaign with 34 in 2019, which saw him outscore Ibrahimovic and claim the MVP award that campaign.

Sure, things have dried up a little since then but 61 goals in 91 MLS appearances is some return. Why be a small fish in a big pond when you can be a big fish in a small pond?

Michael Bradley

When Bradley joined Aston Villa on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2011, it was a big deal and the American international was paraded in front of Villa Park.

How did he do? Well, he made just four appearances and wasn’t signed permanently, so not great.

He spent the following three years in Italy with Chievo and then Roma before moving to Toronto FC presumably to play out the last couple seasons of his career.

Except that Bradley, aged 34 now, is still going. 212 appearances in Canada later, he doesn’t look like he’s slowing down.

Sebastian Blanco

How many players do you think can say they played for Metalist Kharkiv, West Brom, and the Portland Timbers? Well, it’s probably just one, and that would be Blanco.

A senior Argentine international with two caps to his name, he’s recently extended his contract until 2023 as one of their designated players.

From his three appearances in the English midlands in 2014, you really wouldn’t have expected him to be able to do this eight years later.

Alexandre Pato

Pato was so much more than just a FIFA Ultimate Team legend. From Italy to Brazil and China, now Orlando is his home. Can he muster one a last bout of entertainment?

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


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