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Top 10 British footballers to play in America

Photo: Nathan Forget

Football, or soccer depending on what you prefer to call it, is quickly becoming one of the more recognised sports in the United States as Major League Soccer continues to grow and develop as a league. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will both head stateside this summer but here is a list of the ten best British players to play in America so far.

10. Dom Dwyer

Dom Dwyer celebrates after scoring for Sporting Kansas City last season (Photo: SportingKC.com)

Dom Dwyer celebrates after scoring for Sporting Kansas City last season (Photo: SportingKC.com)

He might not be the most recognisable name on this list but he’s made a splash since heading stateside. Dwyer played for Norwich at youth level but moved to America aged 19. He won the 2013 MLS Cup with Sporting Kansas City and scored 22 times in 33 appearances for the club last season. Dwyer recently made headlines as he married U.S. Women’s international footballer Sydney Leroux on Valentines Day.

9. Trevor Francis

Trevor Francis playing for the Detroit Express (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Trevor Francis playing for the Detroit Express (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Francis joined the Detroit Express in the North American Soccer League (NASL) on loan from Birmingham City in 1978. He scored an impressive 39 goals in 38 games in his only season in America before becoming the first British player to be transferred for £1 million when Nigel Clough signed him for Nottingham Forest in 1979.

8. Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne playing for England

Paul Gascoigne playing for England

Although he never actually signed for a club across the pond, Gascoigne spent a summer on trial with MLS side DC United in 2002 as a 33 year old. He rejected a contract with DC and his next career move saw him move to China with Gansu Tianma in a role that saw him fulfil both player and coaching roles.

7. Rodney Marsh

Rodney Marsh in action for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers against Franz Beckenbauer (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Rodney Marsh in action for the Tampa Bay Rowdies against Franz Beckenbauer (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Marsh joined the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 1976 and famously announced, “Pele is the black Rodney Marsh” after being labelled as the “White Pele” by the club’s owner upon his arrival. He went on to score 48 goals in 94 appearances for the Rowdies and stayed in America after retiring, filling various roles as a coach and CEO.

6. Peter Beardsley

Peter Beardsley playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps (Photo: VancouverWhitecaps.com)

Peter Beardsley playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps (Photo: VancouverWhitecaps.com)

Beardsley spent two short spells with Canadian-based club, the Vancouver Whitecaps in the early stages of his career, scoring 28 goals in 73 appearances. He first joined from Carlisle in September 1982 but was signed by Ron Atkinson at Manchester United just weeks after moving to North America. Beardsley returned to Vancouver in March 1983 in another short spell as he was then signed by Newcastle six months later.

5. Bradley Wright-Phillips

Bradley Wright-Phillips playing for the New York Red Bulls last season (Photo: NewYorkRedBulls.com)

Bradley Wright-Phillips playing for the New York Red Bulls last season (Photo: NewYorkRedBulls.com)

Wright-Phillips moved to the New York Red Bulls in July 2013 and the move across the Atlantic has rejuvenated his career. The former Southampton and Manchester City striker has scored 33 goals in 43 appearances and equalled the MLS single-season goal scoring record last year with 27. He won the MLS Supporters’ Shield with the Red Bulls in 2013 and scored against Bayern Munich in last season’s MLS All-Star game.

4. Gordon Banks

Gordon Banks (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Gordon Banks during his time in America (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

The legendary England goalkeeper first moved to America in the summer of 1968, two years after winning the World Cup with England, to join the Cleveland Stokers on loan. He played seven of the club’s 12 games in their short-lived history. He returned to America in 1977 to join the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL, where he made 37 appearances before retiring.

3. Bobby Moore

Bobby Moore in action for the Seattle Sounders (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Bobby Moore during his time stateside (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Even Bobby Moore, one of England’s great footballing icons, made the trip west to play the game in North America. He joined the San Antonio Thunder on loan from Fulham in 1976, making 27 appearances, before moving to the Seattle Sounders in 1978 where he played just seven times as a 36 year old.

2. George Best

George Best with Pele during his time in the United States (Photo: Duncan Raban/EMPICS Entertainment)

George Best with Pele during his time in the United States (Photo: Duncan Raban/EMPICS Entertainment)

Best played for three different American clubs after leaving Manchester United in 1974. He spent two brief spells with the Los Angeles Aztecs either side of a season with Fulham before joining the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1978, where he played with Gordon Banks. The Northern Irishman then spent two years with the San Jose Earthquakes from 1980, netting 54 goals in 77 appearances for their indoor and outdoor teams.

1. David Beckham

David Beckham while with the LA Galaxy (Photo: MLSSoccer.com)

David Beckham while with the LA Galaxy (Photo: MLSSoccer.com)

Beckham is the man who changed the perception of U.S. soccer when he joined the LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007. ‘Becks’ spent five-and-a-half years with the Galaxy, winning the MLS Cup in each of his last two seasons. His mere presence helped to boost the image of the beautiful game in America and he is now on the cusp of securing his very own Miami MLS franchise.

Who do you think is the best British player to have played in America?

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About Louis East (1221 Articles)

Editor of MLSGB.com. Premier League and MLS reporter.

1 Comment on Top 10 British footballers to play in America

  1. neal capuchino // July 18, 2016 at 4:14 PM // Reply

    by a landslide Beckham….when he came to the united states to play in MLS you should have seen the paperrazi everyone was going crazy for him… as much i like him for what he has done for the game here i hope his club in miami succeeds just against my mighty lions of orlando city

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