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Ranking the 15 Best Major League Soccer Players in 2022

| March 24, 2022 7:32 am PDT
MLS logo, Carles Gil (New England), Carlos Vela (LAFC) , Andre Blake (Philadelphia), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

Who are the best Major League Soccer players in 2022?

Due to the recent influx of high-profile stars in the league, that is not an easy question to answer. Still, there is no harm in attempting to rank the top players in MLS for a bit of fun, right?

From David Beckham and Thierry Henry to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andrea Pirlo, Major League Soccer has been blessed with a host of bona fide superstars over the years. Today, though, I will be ranking the best MLS players in 2022.

Without further ado, let’s get this show on the road!

15. Douglas Costa

Douglas Costa
  • Age: 31
  • Club: LA Galaxy
  • Position: Right Winger

There was a time when Douglas Costa was regarded as one of the deadliest wingers on the planet. The skillful Brazilian starred on the UEFA Champions League stage for Bayern Munich and Juventus at the peak of his powers.

Of course, the 31-year-old is no longer at the peak of his powers. But he is still one of the best players in Major League Soccer.

Having won three Bundesliga titles and three Serie A scudetti, Costa moved back home to Gremio before joining the LA Galaxy for the 2022 season. Please keep reading to find out which one of his teammates is also among the top players in MLS.

14. Xherdan Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri
  • Age: 30
  • Club: Chicago Fire
  • Position: Right Winger

Three Bundesliga titles? Check. Two Champions League titles? Check. Two FIFA Club World Cup titles? Check. One English Premier League title for good measure? Check.

It’s fair to say that Xherdan Shaqiri has achieved a lot across his career. He may not have been the standout player at Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, or Liverpool, but he is one of the best players in MLS after teaming up with Chicago Fire in February.

At 30, the Swiss winger – who has a century of international caps to his name – still offers a lot. In general, fans of both Chicago and MLS should be treated to some stunning long-range strikes while Shaqiri is around.

13. Jonathan Mensah

Jonathan Mensah
  • Age: 31
  • Club: Columbus Crew
  • Position: Center-Back

Jonathan Mensah is the first of two center-backs on my list of the best MLS players in 2022. The Ghanaian joined the Columbus Crew back in 2017 and has since established himself as one of the top defenders in the league.

Mensah captained the Crew to MLS Cup glory in 2020, earning a place in the 2020 MLS Best XI for his troubles. If it weren’t for the exploits of Walker Zimmerman (more on him later), he would have been named Defender of the Year.

Sure, stars such as Lucas Zelarayan and Gyasi Zardes invariably grab the headlines for Columbus. But Mensah is the unsung hero in Ohio.

12. Andre Blake

Andre Blake
  • Age: 31
  • Club: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Goalkeeper

When I first thought about ranking the top players in Major League Soccer, I knew I had to include a goalkeeper. In all honesty, it was always goings to be Andre Blake.

The Jamaican shot-stopper has been immense for the Philadelphia Union since he joined the club in 2014. Over the past eight years, he has racked up more than 50 clean sheets and is closing in on 200 MLS appearances.

MLS GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR (2016–2021)
Year Winner Runner-Up
2016 Andre Blake Luis Robles
2017 Tim Melia Andre Blake
2018 Zack Steffen Stefan Frei
2019 Vito Mannone Tim Melia
2020 Andre Blake Matt Turner
2021 Matt Turner Andre Blake

The two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year first won the award in 2016. In 2020, he became only the fifth player to scope the prize twice after guiding Philly to its first-ever Supporters’ Shield. That tells you everything you need to know about Blake’s ability.

If he carries on the way he’s going, Blake could become one of the greatest goalkeepers in MLS history.

11. Blaise Matuidi

Blaise Matuidi
  • Age: 34
  • Club: Inter Miami
  • Position: Central Midfield

Blaise Matuidi became only the twelfth World Cup winner to play in Major League Soccer when he signed for Inter Miami in 2020. He joined an exclusive list that features some of the top overseas players in MLS history, including Thierry Henry, David Villa, and Andrea Pirlo.

The former Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus midfielder played a crucial role in France’s triumph at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Granted, he is no longer the player that lifted the famous trophy. But he is still among the best players in MLS.

10. Javier Hernandez

avier Hernandez
  • Age: 33
  • Club: LA Galaxy
  • Position: Striker

When Javier Hernandez arrived in MLS in 2020, many believed he was past his prime. But the ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid striker has proved his doubters wrong.

Last season, “Chicharito” scored 17 goals in 21 games for the Galaxy. Despite missing 13 games due to injury, he finished just two goals behind New York City’s Valentin Castellanos – the 2021 MLS Golden Boot winner.

Hernandez was one of the highest-paid Major League Soccer players in 2021. Do you think he earned his guaranteed compensation of $6 million?

9. Gonzalo Higuain

Gonzalo Higuain
  • Age: 34
  • Club: Inter Miami
  • Position: Striker

Gonzalo Higuain has played for many of the world’s biggest soccer clubs. After starting his career at Argentine giant River Plate, the prolific striker starred for Juventus, Napoli, and AC Milan in Italy before ending his time in Europe with a brief spell at EPL side Chelsea.

GONZALO HIGUAIN’S RECORD IN EUROPE
Club Games Goals Assists
Real Madrid 264 121 56
Juventus 149 66 16
Napoli 146 91 26
AC Milan 22 8 3
Chelsea 18 5

As you can see, Higuain’s record speaks for itself. Although he has struggled to shine for Inter Miami consistently, you can’t leave him out when ranking the top Major League Soccer players in 2022.

8. Alejandro Pozuelo

Alejandro Pozuelo
  • Age: 30
  • Club: Toronto FC
  • Position: Attacking Midfield

It is easy to forget that Alejandro Pozuelo won the 2020 MLS MVP award. Having spent most of the previous campaign sidelined through injury, the Spaniard became a forgotten figure. Still, he remains one of the best MLS players in 2022.

During his debut campaign at Toronto FC, Pozuelo notched 12 goals and seven assists. He racked up nine goals and ten assists to clinch the MVP crown the following season.

You won’t be surprised to learn that another Spanish playmaker finds himself on my list of top MLS players. No prizes for guessing who that might be!

7. Walker Zimmerman

Walker Zimmerman
  • Age: 28
  • Club: Nashville SC
  • Position: Center-Back

You don’t win back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year awards without being a special player, right? Walker Zimmerman became only the third player in history to achieve that feat last year.

After winning the Supporters’ Shield at FC Dallas in 2016, Zimmerman clinched the Shield with LAFC in 2019. The dominant center-back has since transformed Nashville into one of the best defensive teams in the league.

No defender has ever been named the MLS MVP, but Zimmerman has the potential to buck that trend. I included him among my top MVP contenders for 2022.

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6. Raul Ruidiaz

Raul Ruidiaz
  • Age: 31
  • Club: Seattle Sounders
  • Position: Striker

Before the start of the current campaign, Seattle supporters were getting pretty worried when contract talks between Raul Ruidiaz and the Sounders stalled. But nerves were eased when he signed a new deal in February.

It is not difficult to understand why fans of Seattle were anxious about Ruidiaz’s future. After all, his goals have helped the Sounders achieved five consecutive second-place finishes in the Western Conference and MLS Cup glory in 2019.

At the time of writing, the prolific Peruvian has scored 61 goals in 91 appearances for Seattle. That record makes him one of the best Major League Soccer players in 2022.

5. Josef Martinez

Josef Martinez
  • Age: 28
  • Club: Atlanta United
  • Position: Striker

From one prolific striker to another.

I think Ruidiaz’s record is impressive; you will be amazed by Josef Martinez’s strike rate. Across 135 games for Atlanta United, Martinez has netted a whopping 103 goals!

The 28-year-old won both the MVP and Golden Boot in 2018 after guiding the Five Stripes to MLS Cup glory. He bagged 31 goals in 34 regular-season games that year before scoring four goals in five postseason appearances.

It’s no wonder that Martinez was among the most valuable Major League Soccer players in 2021. I can’t wait to see what he achieves this year.

4. Hany Mukhtar

Hany Mukhtar
  • Age: 26
  • Club: Nashville SC
  • Position: Attacking Midfield

Last season, Hany Mukhtar registered more goal involvements than anyone else in Major League Soccer. Nashville’s German wizard conjured up 16 goals, and 12 assists as the Boys in Gold snatched third place in the Eastern Conference.

Only the top players in Major League Soccer score hat-tricks. Remarkably, Mukhtar holds the record for the fastest hat-trick in MLS history!

CJ Sapong (12 goals, 5 assists) and Randall Leal (8 and 9 assists) also contributed their fair share of goal involvement for Nashville last year. Still, there is no denying that Mukhtar is the show’s star in Music City.

3. Valentin Castellanos

Valentin Castellanos
  • Age: 23
  • Club: New York City FC
  • Position: Forward

Naturally, the 2021 Golden Boot winner has to feature on my list of the best MLS players in 2022. Oh, and let’s not forget that Valentin Castellanos also lifted the MLS Cup with New York City last season.

“Taty” bagged 19 goals and eight assists last year. Although DC United’s Ola Kamara scored the same number of goals, Castellanos scooped the Golden Boot thanks to his superior assist tally.

Having lit up MLS last season, the Argentine has gained many admirers. EPL side Leeds United is reportedly interested in singing Castellanos, but – for now, at least – he is one of the best players in Major League Soccer.

2. Carlos Vela

Carlos Vela
  • Age: 33
  • Club: Los Angeles FC
  • Position: Right Winger

Sadly, Carlos Vela missed most of the 2020 campaign due to a nasty MCL injury. He was also sidelined for much of last season with a hamstring issue. But the Mexican magician reminded everyone of his undeniable talent with a hat-trick on the opening weekend of the 2022 season.

However, Vela didn’t need to remind anyone of what he was capable of. Those who follow Major League Soccer know exactly what this guy can do.

As it stands, the 33-year-old has notched 70 goals and 30 assists in 103 appearances for LAFC. Having scored a mammoth 34 goals in 31 games during the 2019 campaign, he is officially the most prolific MLS Golden Boot winner of all time.

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1. Carles Gil

Carles Gil
  • Age: 29
  • Club: New England Revolution
  • Position: Attacking Midfield

It’s only fitting that Carles Gil tops my list of the best Major League Soccer players in 2022. Why? Because he is the reigning MLS MVP – that’s why!

The 2021 MVP voting results show that Gil received 37% of the player votes, 57.6% of the club votes, and a colossal 61.6% of the media votes. Those numbers paint a picture of a phenomenal player.

Gil racked up 18 assists as New England clinched the 2021 Supporters’ Shield in record-breaking style. His creativity and flair helped the Revs amass 73 points, making them 19 points clear atop the Eastern Conference.

Until someone outperforms Gil, he fully deserves to be recognized as the best player in MLS.

Final Word on the Best MLS Players in 2022

I’d be lying if I said that was easy. As the standard of Major League Soccer continues to rise, picking out the very best MLS players is a difficult task. That said, I’m happy with my top 15.

Honorable mentions include Daniel Salloi, Emanuel Reynoso, and Joao Paulo. It is also worth noting that Lorenzo Insigne will be a favorite MLS player when he joins Toronto FC later this year.

As always, I’m interested to hear your views on this topic. If you think I missed any top Major League Soccer players off my list, let me know in the comments section below.

Finally, I highly recommend checking out our guide to betting on Major League Soccer betting. There is no shortage of useful information on that page, including the best MLS betting sites, top tips, and a whole load more.

Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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