Top Five: The best British players to join Major League Soccer
Whether it’s dying their hair, getting another tattoo or flying across the Atlantic for the next chapter in their careers footballers have been copying David Beckham for years now.
Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe is the latest to follow in Becks’ footsteps, with the England man opting to join Toronto FC in a £6m switch after becoming frustrated with a lack of first team opportunities at White Hart Lane.
The striker could yet end up at West Ham – who are currently priced at 11/8 for relegation – until March as part of a loan deal to keep the player fit ahead of the MLS kick-off in March.
And with yet another Brit opting to continue his career Stateside, we take a look at our top five here;
David Beckham – LA Galaxy
The highest profile name on the list, Beckham disappointed many football fans when moving across the pond after calling time on his stay with Real Madrid at the age of 32.
Many expected the former Manchester United man to prove his worth in the Premier League once again but Beckham had other ideas and arguably has had the last laugh.
An MLS Cup winner in 2011 and 2012, the classy midfielder scored 20 goals in 118 appearances for the Galaxy but his ability to raise the profile of the game in the US is what he is most proud of.
Loan spells with AC Milan and PSG ensured that the world’s biggest footballing celebrity added credibility to his final years as a pro but America is Becks’ home now, with a new Miami franchise in the offing.
Danny Dichio – Toronto FC
While Beckham endeavoured to put MLS on the map, Dichio instantly became a local legend in his own right after scoring the first ever goal in Toronto’s franchise history after swapping Preston for Canada in 2004 at the age of 33.
Having seen his career gradually slide after a spell in Italy with Sampdoria, Dichio cashed in on his European experience to sign for Toronto and never looked back.
The London-born forward dazzled MLS crowds early in his first season – scoring five goals with his first five shots on target – and eventually added a Canadian Championship to his personal honours list in 2009.
Darren Huckerby – San Jose Earthquakes
While Huckerby could never live up to the hype surrounding his transfer – thanks to an ill-researched news piece from KRON anchor Gary Radnich – there are worse places to spend the twilight of your career than in sunny California.
The former Norwich man had the unenviable tag of being too good for the Championship and not good enough for the top flight so took his chances in the MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Nine goals in 22 appearances earned Huckerby the 2008 Newcomer of the Year Award and while that ultimately proved to be the highlight of his US stay the overhyping of his arrival alone earns him a spot on this list.
Nigel Reo-Coker – Vancouver Whitecaps
Unlike the previous three players on this list, Reo-Coker ventured across the Atlantic while supposedly at his physical peak.
Signing for Vancouver at 28-years-of-age last year, the most-capped England U21 man ended an increasingly unimpressive spell in England after short stays with Bolton and Ipswich.
A series of run-ins with managers and team mates left Reo-Coker largely unwanted by top flight teams in England so the chance of a new life in Canada looked too good to turn down.
And after making 32 appearances in his first season the 2005 FA Cup runner up finally looks settled in the heart of midfield.
Luke Rodgers – New York Red Bulls
Rodgers only played 25 times in the MLS but managed to bag 10 goals and unlike the others mentioned, his short stay in America will forever be the highlight of his career.
Yo-yoing between the Conference and the Championship with stays at Shrewsbury, Crewe, Port Vale, Yeovil and Notts County the striker could not believe his luck when a chance to partner Thierry Henry in the Big Apple came his way.
A month after his debut, Rodgers scored two goals and set up Henry for the third in a 3–0 win over San Jose, earning him the MLS player of the week title and prompting him to claim he had never been happier in his footballing career.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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