Top 10 Best MLS Players in 2023 Ranked

Top 10 Best MLS Players in 2023 Ranked

The 2023 MLS regular season nears its end, and the playoffs are about to begin.

Fans are excited to see world champions, league winners, and notable performers help their teams hunt for the ultimate prize.

More so, the league has welcomed new names, some of whom might challenge Hany Mukhtar for his MVP title.

While one person will eventually be named MVP, the Golden Boot, Young Player of the Year, and other honors are up for grabs.

Lionel Messi, seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, has seen his name pop up to magically steal the show, and Barcelona reject Riqui Puig is having a wonderful season.

With these names being European imports, who else has been outstanding?

Find out as we rank the best MLS players in 2023.

Best MLS Players in 2023

10. Riqui Puig

Riqui Puig
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: LA Galaxy
  • Position: Central Midfielder

Puig’s name rings a bell as one of those prospects that never made it in Europe.

However, his Barcelona disappointment as he struggled for playing time in the Spanish club did not deter his hunger for success.

The La Masia graduate joined LA Galaxy on a free transfer in August 2022 and finished the 2022 season on a positive note.

Puig is entrusted with dictating play in the middle of the park thanks to his remarkable playmaking prowess.

He averaged over 75 passes per 90 with a high completion rate to feature in the MLS All-Star in July.

Moreover, he has recorded five goals and seven assists in 24 appearances this season. 

9. Carlos Vela

Carlos Vela
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: Los Angeles FC
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

Following a stellar career in Spanish La Liga’s Real Sociedad, Vela joined Los Angeles FC in January 2018, ahead of the 2018 season.

His spell with the MLS club has fetched success, becoming the highest-scoring Mexican in MLS history with one MLS Golden Boot and MVP Award.

Many had high hopes for Vela following the 2022 season where he was named MLS Best Player ESPY and appeared in the All-Star and Best XI.

As expected, the 34-year-old features among the league’s best players in 2023, making the CONCACAF Champions League Team of the Tournament.

Vela has also scored nine goals, setting up eight in 26 appearances.

8. Carles Gil

Carles Gil
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: New England Revolution
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder

In 2019, the New England Revolution invested a club-record $2 million transfer fee in the creative midfielder.1

The club tasked Gil with impacting the final third, thanks to his vision, technique, and ability to distribute the ball.

He was named the MLS Newcomer of the Year that season, featuring in the Best XI that year and 2021.

Gil has been having an incredible season, supplying twelve goals and putting seven into the net in 24 appearances.

He also featured in the MLS All-Star Game in July, as he did in 2022.

7. Cucho Hernández

Cucho Hernández
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: Columbus Crew
  • Position: Centre-Forward

Hernández earns praises for his skillset, evident in his G/A output this season.

The Colombian has grown to become the Crew’s star performer after signing for a club-record fee of $10 million in June 2022.

Cucho keeps showing why the MLS club was right to bring him from English Championship Watford FC, scoring nine goals and assisting ten in twenty appearances at the time of writing.

Cucho scored his first league Hattrick against CF Montreal on September 3, becoming one of only five players to find the back of the net three times in one game this season.

6. Mateusz Klich

Mateusz Klich
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: DC United
  • Position: Midfielder

The Polish midfielder signed for DC United after losing out of Jesse Marsch’s favor at Leeds United.

However, he has found his feet under Wayne Rooney, bringing his Premier League experience to the MLS.

Mateusz Klich has recorded eight assists in 25 appearances, stabilizing the midfield and spreading quick key passes in the middle of the park.

Aged 33, Klich is nearing the dusk of his career.

Nevertheless, his reputation from across the seas makes him one of the best-performing MLS players in 2023.

5. Facundo Torres

  • Club: Orlando City
  • Position: Winger

Facundo Torres is Orlando City’s most expensive transfer after completing a club-record $9 million fee from Peñarol in January 2022.2

He wasted no time proving why the club invested in him after a stellar first season, scoring nine goals in 33 MLS appearances and helping the club win the US Open Cup.

Torres, 23, recently signed a new long-term contract that may see him leave for a league-record fee less than two years into his initial four-year deal.

The club’s decision to extend his contract may be attributed to his age and improved performance this season, scoring eleven goals and providing five assists in 24 appearances.

Torres’s skillset and output have shone past the MLS, attracting interest from top European clubs, including Premier League side Arsenal FC.

4. Thiago Almada

Thiago Almada
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: Atlanta United
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

Almada scored 15 goals in 42 matches in Argentina’s Primera División under Mauricio Pellegrino in Vélez Sarsfield. He also announced his presence with performances that saw him become the league’s Newcomer of the Year.

The 22-year-old also featured in the MLS All-Star in 2023 as one of the league’s standout performers.

Thiago Almada started the 2023 season strong, scoring a brace (one of the goals being a freekick).

He appeared in the season’s first Team of the Matchday and was named the 2023 MLS season’s first Player of the Week.

He now tops the assist chart, finding the goalscorer fourteen times in 25 matches and finishing nine himself.

3. Luciano Acosta

Luciano Acosta
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: FC Cincinnati
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder

The Argentine suffered an ill run of form that saw him lose the DC United fans and board members’ favor after a failed move to French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain in 2019.

However, he redeemed himself with consistent positive performances in Cincinnati, which saw him into the MLS Best XI in 2022 and the MLS All-Star in 2022 and 2023.

Acosta aroused high hopes for the 2023 season and has scored thirteen goals and recorded eleven assists as an attacking midfielder.

With 24 G/A in 26 appearances, Acosta has led FC Cincinnati to the top of the Eastern Conference with 57 points, ten above second-placed New England Revolution.

He sits only behind Hany Mukhtar on the goal chart as of September 3.

2. Hany Mukhtar

Hany Mukhtar
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: Nashville SC
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder

Hany Mukhtar became Nashville SC’s first-ever designated player, a status that placed a big responsibility on his shoulders. However, he made it to the MLS Best XI in 2021 and 2022.3

Mukhtar also won the MLS Golden Boot and Most Valuable Player Award in 2022 and made the MLS All-Star Team in 2022 and 2023.

The German is yet to bag any Player of the Month Award but scored a hat trick in May on the same day he won a Player of the Matchday award.

Mukhtar sits atop the MLS Top Scorers chart, with fourteen goals in 27 appearances.

He has also set up eight during the period.

The Nashville SC’s star hopes to defend his MVP title and is on his way to achieving the feat after making an appearance in the MLS All-Star Game.

1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi
Source: Wikimedia
  • Club: Inter Miami
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

Lionel Messi topping our list is unsurprising, following his record as the most iconic MLS transfer.

The sport’s all-time best immediately changed Inter Miami’s bottom-table position in just a few games after his presentation alongside former Barca teammate Sergio Busquets.

The 2022 World Cup champion scored nine goals in his first six games, including a goal in the Leagues Cup final against Nashville SC.

With that goal, Messi who doubles as the MLS most valuable star, handed Inter Miami their first-ever trophy.

Wrap Up

Gone are the days when the best MLS players were only those who were celebrated on the grandest stage in Europe.

These days, Young stars like Thiago Almada and Facundo Torres, who have never played for any European club, are respected in the league.

While there is no standard metric to our ranking, we examined these players’ performances, output, and impact on their respective teams.

Frankly, you may never regret watching any of these stars on their day.

References & Notes

Facts Sources:
  1. Carles Gil historic signing to the New England Revolution. Athletic
  2. MLS wonderkid snubs transfer interest with record-breaking new Orlando City contract. Mirror
  3. Mukhtar honoured to be Nashville’s first ever designated player. Goal

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