This offseason we saw a proliferation of players moving from MLS to Liga MX. Omar Gonzalez, Juninho, Luis Gil and Jorge Villafaña all left their MLS clubs after the 2015 season to head down to Mexico. While this movement is not something we see often, it is nothing new.
Since the start of MLS in 1996, many players have moved back and forth between the leagues. Two notable players that came straight from Liga MX (then known as the Mexican Primera Division) into MLS in 1996 were Tab Ramos and Jorge Campos. There were just the first of many to follow this path.
But who were the best players to play in both MLS and Liga MX? We have answered that question below.
The US national team legend played for Leon for a couple of seasons before joining the Colorado Rapids for their inaugural season in 1996. He went on to appear in 151 games for the Rapids from 1996-2001.
The Houston Dynamo left back started his career with the Chicago Fire in MLS and was named to the 2003 Best XI. He secured a move to Dutch giants PSV in 2004 and bounced around Europe for seven years before joining Puebla in 2011. He spent three seasons in Liga MX before re-joining MLS after the 2014 World Cup.
There is only one way to describe Cuauhtemoc. Legend. The Mexico City native tore up Liga MX for 15 years, mostly with Club América, before joining the Chicago Fire in 2007. He immediately was one of the top players in the league and was named to the Best XI in 2008. Blanco made 120 appearances with the Mexican national team, scoring 39 goals.
The all-time leading scorer in Chivas Guadalajara history, Bravo joined Sporting Kansas City prior to the 2011 season. He scored nine goals in 27 appearances for the club and was a major part of Sporting’s resurgence back to the top of MLS. Bravo returned to Liga MX after leaving Kansas City and is currently back with Chivas.
The goalkeeper/forward – yes, you read that correctly – joined the LA Galaxy in 1996 after securing a Ferrari in a deal with the league. He made 52 total appearances in the league before returning to Liga MX, where he was an all-time great for Pumas UNAM. Campos also made 130 appearances for El Tri, despite his 5-foot-6 frame.
The now 33-year-old striker was stuck in a rut in 2009 after six seasons in MLS. Instead of spending more years trying to find his footing in MLS, the Las Vegas native joined Puebla in Liga MX. He scored 10 goals in 15 game before bouncing around to a few more clubs including Santos Laguna, where he won a Liga MX title in 2012. His performances earned him a regular spot on the US national team and a place on the 2010 World Cup roster.
The much-maligned defender/midfielder joined the New York Red Bulls in 2010 after many years with Barcelona. Rafa’s time with the Red Bulls was marred by controversy, and he returned to Liga MX with Leon in 2013 and won two titles with the club. He is currently playing with the team he started with, Atlas, who he is captaining. Marquez has made 129 appearances with El Tri and was captain of the team for four World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014).
Pardo made more than 500 appearances in Liga MX, mostly with Club America and Atlas before joining the Chicago Fire in 2011. He made 41 appearances over two seasons with the Fire before retiring. Pardo won two Liga MX titles and has made the second-most appearances in Mexican national team history (148).
Ramos was the first player to sign with MLS in January 1995, but there was a problem. The league didn’t start until 1996. In the meantime MLS loaned Ramos to Tigres, where he helped the team capture the 1995-96 Copa MX. Ramos collected 36 assists over seven seasons with the club and is currently the US Under-20 head coach after a stellar international career in his own right.
An all-time great, Suarez made 177 appearances with El Tri over the course of his career, the most in Mexican national team history. Suarez made more than 100 appearances each with Pumas, Chivas and Tigres before joining MLS in 2006 with Chivas USA. He made 64 appearances over four seasons with the club.