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Hit or Miss? It hasn’t been easy for ex-Prem men in MLS

| 04.03.2016

The lure of seeing out your latter days across the pond in MLS is easy to understand with the relaxed atmosphere, the great grub, those big open roads and usually much better weather just some of the obvious reasons to ditch life in the UK, but sometimes the grass isn’t always greener.

The league is gaining in standard and recognition with each passing year, but it remains something of a retirement home for ageing Premier League pros.

So ahead of the new MLS season, we cast our eye over the hits and misses of Premier League folk stateside…


David Beckham

Obviously we start with David Beckham, whose arrival at LA Galaxy in the summer of 2007 boosted the sport’s profile in a manner which hasn’t been since before or since.

Success on the pitch remained seemingly elusive for Becks in the States, but it all came together in his final season with the 2012 MLS Cup title after a 3-1 win over Houston Dynamo.

Robbie Keane

In four full seasons with LA Galaxy, Robbie Keane has scored at least 16 goals in every season and he was named MLS MVP in 2014.

He may be turning 36 later this year, but Keane appears to get better with age with a personal best of 20 goals last season from just 24 appearances.

Bradley Wright-Phillips

Wright-Phillips had shown flashes of potential during his time in England, but still eyebrows were raised when he joined New York Red Bulls in 2013.

One goal in his first seven appearances wasn’t a flying start, but a whopping 27 goals in 2014 saw him in the MLS All-Star team, claim the Golden Boot and be named Red Bulls Player of the Year.

Liam Ridgewell

After time with Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom, Liam Ridgewell finally ditched the Midlands for Portland Timbers in 2014.

The centre-half quickly become an integral part of the Oregon side, and was a crucial member of the defensive upon which Portland built their victorious MLS Cup campaign last season.

Didier Drogba

The former Chelsea man joined Montreal Impact last season and settled in rather well, bagging 11 goals in just 11 MLS games including a match-winning hat-trick in his second appearance.


Freddie Ljungberg

America should have been the perfect place for part-time model Freddie Ljungberg, but his move to Seattle Sounders in 2009 didn’t really work out.

Despite a sizeable salary, two goals in nearly 40 appearances wasn’t much of a return, and a switch to Chicago didn’t amount to a lot either.

Gilles Grimandi

Ljungberg’s one-time Arsenal team-mate Gilles Grimandi became the first Frenchman in MLS when he joined Colorado in 2003.

Having joined in January of that year, the midfielder played one pre-season fixture before realising he preferred the vineyards of home to the Rapids of Colorado and was gone by April. We’re not even sure he counts as an MLS player.

Steve Howey

The former Newcastle and Man City defender was ahead of the game when he joined New England Revolution in 2004.

But despite all the delights the fine City of Boston could offer, Howey didn’t fancy it much and quit after four games. He then joined Hartlepool. Each to their own and all that.

Steve Guppy

The ex-Leicester and Celtic man has a career path which goes Wycombe > D.C United > Stevenage, should you ever need to know it in a pub quiz.

One of Guppy’s few appearances did see the Englishman start a game once alongside teenage-superstar-turned-mega-flop Freddie Adu. Sadly for Guppy, injury meant his time in Washington was much adu about nothing…

Shaka Hislop

A favourite across a number of Premier League clubs, Shaka Hislop’s move to Dallas in 2007 seemed pretty sensible for all concerned.

At 37, Hislop still had plenty offer, but the London-born Trinidad & Tobago stopper couldn’t oust Dario Sala between the sticks, and was also overlooked in favour of an Argentinean teenager when Sala was unavailable. Shaka made 10 appearances in 12 months and called it a day.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing.



Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.