Leeds Utd Players Who Became MLS Legends
22 Oct 2020 10:37 am, by YorkshireSquare
The MLS is seen by most European fans and clubs as something of a retirement home for players who have pretty much passed their sell by date. Although the likes of Christian Pulisic and Kingsley Coman are quickly changing those perceptions, it is still the case that a Premier League no-hoper can head stateside and suddenly become an MLS legend.
It can sometimes also be tricky to know which players will adapt and which really will not, with the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard flopping, but other lesser names like Obafemi Martins and Bradley Wright-Phillips shining through. Here are some Leeds players of past and present who at one time or another have been big fish in the small pond that is the MLS.
This Irish international legend plied his trade at a number of top clubs, including Leeds, before he finally put down roots in Los Angeles, where rather than his career petering out, he got a second wind, going on to score 83 goals in 125 games for the Galaxy. This tally totally eclipsed what he managed at Leeds where he scored 18 goals in his loan and permanent spells. Not a great record but enough to see him make 60th place on our list of 100 greatest Leeds players.
All these players have crossed the line between English and US football
The only man on this list who still appears in the weekly odds lines is young Jack Harrison, who did things a little differently to UK born players, starting his senior football career at New York City before eventually finding his way to Elland Road on loan. Needless to say, Harrison has been something of a revelation, having first caught the eye of some faded stars who were picking up their final player’s pay checks in the Big Apple. Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard both singled him out for praise, and correctly predicted that he would one day become a success in Europe. US soccer punters are already keeping an eye out for who the next US starlet could be to make the leap, from being tipped by US sports betting experts, to wowing pundits and footy fans in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Huckerby was always an energetic and enthusiastic player, whose barrelling runs and hunchback demeanour occasionally made him the subject of ridicule. However, he put in a very respectable shift in the MLS, when for the final year of his playing career he netted 9 goals in one season for the San Jose Earthquakes. He may not have made the ground shake in England, but he did make an impression on the other side of the pond.
It tends to be fringe squad level players who settle in the best in the MLS, rather than huge stars, although Beckham and Ibrahimović bucked the trend
While most other players on this list have either UK or Irish passports, Eddie Lewis did things the hardest way of all, starting life in a fledgling US grassroots scene and dragging the entire sport into the spotlight. Lewis began his journey at the San Jose Clash where he was then scooped up by Fulham. The best years of his career were spent at Leeds and Preston respectively, although many would argue that he always put in his best shifts for the US national team, which he helped to go from being a laughing stock to a force to be reckoned with. His defining moment was probably when he provided a perfect assist for Landon Donovan against Mexico in a famous 2002 World Cup victory.
Like Lewis, Eddie Lewis made his way in the MLS before taking the boat over to Europe. Things did not pan out perfectly for him, with spells at Heerenveen, Leeds, and even Stevenage, not really providing anything to write home about. That said, though, his failures in Europe did not deter him from doing great things with Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy in the MLS.