Now that former Manchester United superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic is making all sorts of headlines in Los Angeles and Everton vet Wayne Rooney has completed a D.C. United switch, it seems a good time to run down the best moves ever made to bring English Premier League players to our shores.
Although we are leaving out anyone with prior MLS experience, our list does feature a pair of Americans who came home after impressive careers in Europe. Four of these guys came across the pond as veterans, while one would make his name in MLS from a young age. Combined, they raised 22 pieces of tournament silver and deservedly found their names on a Best XI scroll 11 times.
5) John Harkes
After several strong seasons in England, the US midfielder came home from a loan to West Ham United at age 29. Harkes became a key cog in the early D.C. United dynasty, winning two MLS Cups, a Supporters' Shield, an Open Cup and the 1998 Concacaf Champions Cup before moving on to New England and Columbus. Though more of a deep-lying metronome, he would chalk up 48 assists in 189 total MLS games.
4) Juan Pablo Angel
The elegant goal shark wasted no time making an impact after joining the New York Red Bulls from Aston Villa in the summer of 2007. Angel scored an extra-time U.S. Open Cup goal on his debut, and then proceeded to score 19 league goals to earn Best XI honors. The Colombian forward would bag 62 total goals in four campaigns in New York, before splitting two seasons between the Galaxy and Chivas USA. While his production waned in Cali, he did celebrate his only MLS Cup triumph in 2011.
3) Kasey Keller
The year MLS kicked off, Keller started his journey through Europe. He stayed overseas until 2008 before joining his hometown Seattle Sounders at the age of 38. The classy stopper was far from done, and posted shutout wins in the first four games of franchise history. The netminder helped win three straight U.S. Open Cups, retiring after taking the 2011 Goalkeeper of the Year prize (at age 41!). Keller's career goals-against-average is a miserly 1.04, the second best in league history.
2) Jaime Moreno
Midway through the league's inaugural season, D.C. United grabbed a 22-year-old Bolivian box fox from Middlesbrough, and this transfer still stands among the greatest coups in MLS history. One of only two players to reach the century mark in both goals (133) and assists (102), Moreno formed a deadly partnership with countryman Marco Etcheverry. He would fill his trophy case with four MLS Cups, four Supporters' Shields, two Open Cups, a Concacaf Champions Cup, the 1997 MVP award and five Best XI nods.
1) Robbie Keane
The Republic of Ireland striker came over from Tottenham as a 31-year-old in 2011 to pay both immediate and continued benefits to the LA Galaxy. Working in concert with David Beckham and Landon Donovan, Keane went on to score 83 regular season goals (about 0.7 per 90 minutes), and added another nine on the way to three MLS Cup crowns, four consecutive Best XI mentions and a MVP double (season and playoffs) in 2014. Fans at the Stubhub will talk about his left channel runs, deft finishes and cartwheel celebrations for a long time.