But there were plenty of Americans who enjoyed big-time seasons, as well. Here’s our top 10 (in alphabetical order) from 2017:
After scoring 13 goals and 10 goals in his first two seasons in Toronto, the 28-year-old striker had his best year yet, setting MLS highs with 15 goals and six assists while leading TFC to the most points in regular-season history. And Altidore is not done yet as he’ll look to lead the Reds back to the MLS Cup for a second straight year before this time lifting a trophy, along with the next player on the list.
Speaking of Toronto, the engine that once again made the Reds purr was their maestro in the midfield. The 30-year-old TFC and US national team captain didn’t score a goal and only had two assists this year — which maybe means Bradley is saving one for Eastern Conference Championship or MLS Cup?
For the second straight year, no one in MLS had more assists than the New York Red Bulls’ playmaker. Kljestan finished with 17 helpers a year after finishing with 20 and now has a whopping 51 over the last three seasons. And after playing an instrumental role in helping get the Red Bulls into the playoffs, he also scored a goal in their big 4-0 Knockout Round win over Chicago.
While Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger may have gotten the most headlines, it was the steadying play of McCarty that helped the Fire rise from the Eastern Conference basement. He finished with five assists on the year and was one of the few Chicago players to turn in a good shift in their early playoff exit, reminding the Red Bulls what they were missing after they traded him to Chicago.
One of three finalists for the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award, the Sporting Kansas City netminder had his best season, finishing with 10 shutouts and 91 saves, many of which were of the spectacular variety. The former league pool goalkeeper had one of his most memorable performances to lift SKC to the US Open Cup title, and who knows if things may have turned out differently had Melia not been out injured for his team’s 1-0 Knockout Round loss to Houston?
The 30-year-old Toronto fullback added a whole lot of his offense to his game in 2017, scoring eight goals, the most of any MLS defender. Morrow also won a pair of MLS Player of the Week awards, including one after netting his first career hat trick to help TFC clinch the Supporters’ Shield. He was a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year before losing out to another one of the players on this list.
How many MLS players have been better than this guy over the past few years? The New England Revolution midfielder quietly put together another huge season, scoring 11 goals and logging a career-high 15 assists. Nguyen now just one assist shy of gaining entry into the exclusive 50-50 club. Shouldn’t he be getting more love?
After dealing with several injuries over the past few years, the SKC center back put it all together to win MLS Defender of the Year. Using his size and speed, Opara wreaked havoc on opposing forwards and scored three goals of his own, including an incredible overhead kick. How did this guy not get picked for the MLS All-Star Game again?
The 22-year-old midfielder proved to be one of the most indispensable young players in the league this year, starting 33 games and logging nearly 3,000 minutes for Seattle while leading MLS in duels won (260) and tackles won (94). Roldan, who finished with three goals and six assists, was such a key cog in the Sounders’ loaded lineup that head coach Brian Schmetzer even played him when he had a broken arm, calling him “Superman.” If he can win a second MLS Cup before he turns 23, the nickname will be even more apt.
Impress your friends with this trivia question: Which American scored the most MLS goals in 2017? That would be Sapong, who after spending his whole MLS career hovering around double-digits in goals for a season, broke through in a big way with a career-high 16 goals. That was also the most of any player in Philadelphia Union history, a record he set in Philly's final game, and was good enough to land him a US national team call-up in Portugal.