When it comes to soccer, nothing gets fans more excited than golazos, perhaps a top-drawer save, and also the individual skill of dribbling.

There's a particular type of joy from watching a player turn into an artist and make the field their personal canvas, dipping into their own versions of spins, flicks, cutbacks and stepovers to beat a defender.

Just over a third of the way through the 2022 season, who are these players in Major League Soccer? Let's take a closer look below, with data coming from Opta.

Dribbles competed

When analyzing who has completed the most dribbles in MLS, that title belongs to Minnesota United FC playmaker Emanual Reynoso. The second member on the list is another No. 10, Columbus Crew maestro Lucas Zelarayan.

(NOTE: A completed dribble is defined as when a player advances the ball past an opponent.)

Player
Dribbles completed
Dribbles attempted
Dribbles success rate
1. Emanuel Reynoso (MIN)
70
118
59.3%
2. Lucas Zelarayan (CLB)
43
78
55.1%
3. Santiago Moreno (POR)
41
69
59.4
4. Carles Gil (NE)
38
60
63.3%
5. Alejandro Pozuelo (TOR)
32
53
60.4

Progressive carries completed

Like possession, not all completed dribbles count the same. When it comes to players best at progressing the ball up the field with their feet, there's few better than New England Revolution artist Carles Gil, last year's Landon Donovan MLS MVP winner.

(NOTE: A progressive carry is defined as when a player dribbles the ball at least five meters closer to the opponent's goal. It excludes dribbles from the defending half of the field.)

Player
Progressive carries
Total carries
Progressive carry rate
1. Francisco Calvo (SJ)
203
320
63.4%
2. Emanuel Reynoso (MIN)
149
271
55.0%
3. Carles Gil (NE)
143
313
45.7%
4. Alexander Callens (NYC)
132
222
59.5%
5. Pedro Santos (CLB)
130
209
62.2%

Dribbles completed in the 18-yard-box from Trumedia

Composure and controlling the ball in tight spaces is one of the greater skills in the sport of soccer. When it comes to the Brazilian national team, often the side crowned as being the best dribbles, there is a myth from my youth coach that they would scrimmage in 18-yard-box to improve their agility and quickness in crowded areas on the field.

Whether my coach was just feeding us a folktale or if it is true, the team in MLS who would most likely succeed in a game from inside the penalty box is Columbus Crew, with three of their players are in the top 3 for dribbles completes in the box.

Player
Dribbles completed in the box
Dribbles in the box
Dribble success rate in the box
1. Lucas Zelarayan (CLB)
6
11
54.5%
2. Derrick Etienne (CLB)
5
8
62.5%
T-3. Yaw Yeboah (CLB)
4
5
80.0%
T-3. Jonathan Osorio (TOR)
4
5
80.0%
T-3. Darwin Quintero (HOU)
4
7
57.1%

Chances created following a carry

Many coaches will often argue it is best to get the ball off your foot, "the ball moves faster than the body" is a common saying often used to discourage someone from hanging onto the ball for too long.

However, the players below are likely granted more leeway when it comes to their creativity with the ball, as when they dribble, good things tend to happen.

Player
Chance created ending carries
Assist ending carries
Goal ending carries
1. Thiago Almada (ATL)
14
1
1
2. Carles Gil (NE)
13
1
0
T-3. Marcelino Moreno (ATL)
9
2
0
T-3. Luciano Acosta (CIN)
9
1
0
T-3. Brandon Bye (NE)
9
1
0

The full picture

The visualization below illustrates dribbles attempted vs. dribble success rate. The graphic only features players who have recorded over 20 dribble attempts.

The four quadrants break down as such:

  • Bottom right: high dribble attempts. low dribble success rate
  • Bottom left: low dribble attempts. low dribble success rate
  • Top right: high dribble attempts. high dribble success rate
  • Top left: low dribble attempts. high dribble success rate
MLS dribble stats