There have been some great foreign acquisitions in MLS’s 27-year history, but who are the greatest five French players of all time?
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There have been more than 50 French players that have played in Major League Soccer. Some have etched their names in the league’s history books. Others, though, have not. But who are the top five Ligue 1 exports to make a mark in the league?
Former LA Galaxy midfielder Romain Alessandrini is the first to make our list of the best five Frenchmen to have ever played in MLS. In January 2017, the winger joined Galaxy after spending most of his career in France.
In his debut season, the team finished last in the Western Conference, but he played a huge part in helping them rebuild into a playoff team, scoring 24 times in 61 league games. In that period, the Frenchman also had 22 assists, most of which came from the right flank.
Frederic Brilliant moved to MLS before the 2016 season after spending the first decade of his professional career in Belgium’s top league. He has since developed into one of the league’s top defenders.
In 2016, Brillant joined New York City FC. He played for the Sky Blues for two seasons, helping them reach the playoffs both years. Along with his defensive exploits, he also scored twice and assisted once in 54 regular-season appearances for the club while also playing all 360 minutes of playoff football over the two seasons.
Sebastien Le Toux
Sebastien Le Toux held the record for the longest-serving Frenchman in MLS until 2020. Although he lost the record, the midfielder still holds the record for most appearances.
Le Toux relocated to the United States in early 2007, signing with the Seattle Sounders of the USL First Division. Le Toux became the club’s first acquisition after being awarded expansion status by Major League Soccer ahead of their maiden season in the top tier in 2009. In his sole season with Seattle in Major League Soccer, he scored once and assisted on three others in 28 games.
Aurelien Collin, who only retired in March this year after 11 seasons in MLS surpassed Le Toux as the league’s longest-serving Frenchman. The Frenchman joined Sporting Kansas City ahead of the 2011 season and quickly established himself as a crucial member of the club’s backline, eventually commanding the center of their defense for four seasons.
As many would have predicted, former Premier League star Thierry Henry is top of the list after his exploits in the MLS.
After winning everything in Europe with the continent’s top teams, the French striker signed for the New York Red Bulls in July 2010, and went on to play for the team for the following four and a half seasons, scoring double figures in each of his four complete seasons.
In 122 regular-season games with the club, he scored 51 goals and assisted on 42 more. He also appeared in 13 postseason games, scoring once and assisting seven times. The stats truly speak for themselves, which is saying a lot considering the caliber of his performance even at this late point of his career.