MLS: 15 former Premier League players starring in America, including ex-Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United aces

27 Mar

Major League Soccer is quickly becoming a great incubator for talent with Miguel Almiron the latest star to venture to Europe after making his name in America.

There is though still a market for European-based talents travelling across the Atlantic to reignite their careers.

Gedion Zelalem in action for Arsenal’s Under-23s this season upon his return from injury.

Former Arsenal starlet Gedion Zelalem is now looking to impress in the States and get himself back on track having signed for Sporting Kansas City.

After an unfortunate injury derailed his time with the Gunners will first spend time with Swope Park Rangers.

If he can impress he could join a host of other former Premier League players now plying their trade in MLS.

But who are the men currently starring in America having left our shores? Find out below.

Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)

The former Everton and Manchester United goalkeeper is now in the final season of his career as he prepares to retire at the end of the 2019 MLS campaign.

He’s performed well for the Rapids and in 2016 saved two penalties to guide his side into to the Western Conference Championship.

Howard will soon retire.

Danny Wilson (Colorado Rapids)

Signed by Liverpool from Rangers for £2million in 2010, Wilson only made two Premier League appearances for the Reds.

The defender failed to make an impact out on loan in England but was signed on a free by Heart of Midlothian and then returned to Rangers.
He then joined the Rapids in January 2018 and played 23 times, while he has made another two this campaign.

Wilson gets stuck in.

Kei Kamara (Colorado Rapids)

A Premier League spell with Norwich City saw Kamara net just one goal in 11 appearances.

Stateside, though, the Sierra Leone ace has a formidable record. He’s now had prolific spells with Columbus Crew (31 goals in 46 appearances), New England Revolution (21 in 59), Vancouver Whitecaps (17 in 31), and is now with the Rapids and has already opened his account for the current campaign.

Kamara celebrates one of his many MLS goals.

Reto Ziegler (FC Dallas)

Tottenham and Wigan had the Swiss ace on their books in the Premier League but the left-sided player never fulfilled his potential, either at left-back or as a left winger.

Now 33, he’s found a role in MLS as a centre-back and is even converting penalties for his current club.

Ziegler during his Tottenham days.

Maynor Figueroa (Houston Dynamo)

Fondly remembered for his lengthy spell at Wigan, the Honduran ace once scored from the halfway line in the Premier League against Stoke City, while he was in the Latics’ FA Cup winning side in 2013.

Following spells at Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas, he’s now a Dynamo.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

Who could forget the bombastic Swede! After conquering almost every European country, he’s now starring in the States.

The former Manchester United man scored 22 MLS goals in his 27 appearances during his debut campaign, he’s one for one now but is recovering from an injury.

The lion continues to roar in the United States.

Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC)

During his early career at Arsenal, the Mexican was known for his love of chipping the goalkeeper when through one-on-one.

Now 30, the ex-Gunner is in fine form in his second season with LAFC, scoring three and assisting two in his first four matches. This comes after a debut campaign with 14 goal and 10 assists – not bad at all!

Vela played for Mexico at the World Cup last summer.

Nedum Onuoha (Real Salt Lake)

Once a mainstay in the England Under-21, the former Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers defender is now a regular at centre-back this season over in MLS.

Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City)

Prior to his three-campaign spell at Wigan, where the left wing-back won the FA Cup, Espinoza was in Kansas.

It turned out there was no place like home so he returned there in 2015 and has forged a fine career as a central midfielder.

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire)

The Germany legend has already done more in his time in America than he did at Old Trafford, which is shame given his standing in the game.

A regular for the Fire and sometimes captain, he even turned out a centre-back on a couple of occasions for the club last term.

Schweinsteiger gives supporters a thumbs up.

Wayne Rooney (DC United)

The England and Manchester United legend appears to be continuing his thrilling start to MLS life having netted three goals in three games this season, while also grabbing an assist.

Rooney is now captain and striker in Washington having played in midfield last year – he still managed 12 goals in 20 games though, plus six assists.

Rooney celebrates with his DC United team-mates.

Bacary Sagna (Montreal Impact)

It looked like the French right-back’s career was all but over when he left Benevento after a short stay. Now, though, he’s doing well in Canada at 36-years-old.

Michael Mancienne (New England Revolution)

One of the most capped players in England Under-21 history, the ex-Chelsea academy man never made it as a Premier League player.

He had spells with Queens Park Rangers, Wolves, Hamburg, and Nottingham Forest but is now captain of the Revolution, and playing at centre-back.

Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)

A bonafide MLS legend. Wright-Phillips didn’t make the grade in the Premier League with Manchester City but after spells with Southampton, Plymouth and Charlton he opted for a switch to America.

It turned out to be one of the best football decisions ever. The forward has 125 goals in 216 games for New York Red Bulls – a fine career.

Wright-Phillips has been astonishing since moving to MLS

Nani (Orlando City)

It was always going to be hard for the winger to live up to comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo.

He made a fist of it at Old Trafford before spells at Fenerbahce, Valencia, Lazio, and Sporting Lisbon – but can he crack America?

Football’s biggest tantrums and strops including Mario Balotelli, Kepa, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale

28 Feb

Football is certainly an emotive game, tensions can run high and get the better of even the most dedicated professional.

From Paul Gascoigne’s World Cup tears on a balmy evening in Italy to Macro Tardelli’s iconic screaming celebration, football can bring an individual right through the spectrum of sensations.

However, there is also an uglier side to that as footballers can occasionally completely lose their head’s on the biggest stage.

Kepa refused to come off the Wembley pitch

This weekend for instance saw no less than three examples of such behaviour as Mauricio Pochettino, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Gareth Bale all showed off their surly sides.

The Tottenham Hotspur boss was forced to accept an FA charge after angrily confronting Mike Dean following Spurs’ defeat to Burnley in the early kick off.

In the Carabao Cup Final no more than 24 hours later, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper then refused to be substituted much to the annoyance of boss Maurizio Sarri.

And then Bale refused to celebrate with his teammates after scoring a penalty for Real Madrid after losing his place to a teenager.

Bale is used to shrugging off unwanted attention, just not normally from his own teammates

While the pressure as a professional is almost indescribable, such acts of petulance certainly gain plenty of unwanted criticism.

But these isolated incidents are by no means the wost fans have seen on a football pitch, far from it!

Scroll down to see talkSPORT.com’s best ever tantrums and strops from the world of football!

SAIDO BERAHINO V JEREMY PEACE (2015)

You get the gist of what Berahino as trying to say

When Tottenham Hotspur expressed an interest in signing West Bromwich Albion starlet Saido Berahino in 2015, it’s fair to say the striker had his head turned.

Although the two clubs tried to negotiate a deal, chairman Jeremy Peace held firm in his valuation and the move never went through.

Queue a hastily (and poorly) written Tweet by the former England Under-21 international declaring his intention to ‘never play Jeremy Peace’.

Tony Pulis did bring the striker back into the fold before the end of the season, but the damage was done as was Berahino’s Baggies career.

CRISTIANO RONALDO V NANI (2010)

The Portugal captain literally threw his armband away in frustration

International friendlies tend not to be the most exciting affairs, but Spain’s clash with Portugal in 2010 had an extra edge because of Real Madrid starlet Ronaldo’s presence.

Hated by Barcelona fans, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol set about putting the former Manchester United man into the stands at every possible opportunity.

However, when the winger broke free down the left and put Pique on his backside, his delightful dink over teammate Iker Casillas seemed destined for the back of the net.

That was until Nani decided to literally steal it on the line, despite being offside. The ‘goal’ was ruled out and Ronaldo produced a reaction befitting a tired toddler who has just been told to go to bed.

DIDIER DROGBA v TOM HENNING OVREBO (2009)

An incensed Drogba chased the Norwegian down the tunnel at Stamford Bridge

The ball left Andres Iniesta’s foot, floated just over Petr Cech’s hand, and Stamford Bridge fell silent.

It was meant to be Guus Hiddink’s crowning moment during his short stay in west London, but instead became a match forgotten for the football and remembered for the outrage that flowed both during the action and after the final whistle blew.

Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo was the subject of death threats in the weeks and months following the match, and the fears for his safety in the immediate aftermath of the game meant he had to be escorted out of the country by police.

The Norwegian official was practically chased off the pitch by striker Didider Droga who, upon realising he could not continue to berate the referee, turned to the cameras to continue his protests.

NEMANJA MATIC v ASHLEY BARNES (2015)

The normally ice-cold Serb lost his head completely

After committing a tackle described as ‘criminal’ by Jose Mourinho in 2015, Ashley Barnes lay on the Stamford Bridge turf in the hope referee Martin Atkinson would not show red.

Atkinson did produce a red card, but not for the Burnley striker. Instead, it went to the man on the receiving end of said challenge.

Nemanja Matic is not the type to lose his rag, but the red mist descended that day and the Serbian literally threw his aggressor to the floor before being hauled away by John Terry and the rest of his Chelsea teammates.

Despite nearly having his leg snapped in half, Matic rather sheepishly jogged off the pitch after realising he had made a bit of a mug of himself.

MARIO BALOTELLI v ROBERTO MANCINI (2011)

Why always him?

Pre-season friendlies are the perfect time for youngsters to get a run out in the first team, for seasoned pros to show why they deserve to start and for managers to experiment with new tactics.

That is, of course, unless you are Mario Balotelli where you can essentially do whatever you want.

In a 2011 friendly with LA Galaxy, the Italy striker opted to backheel a simple chance at goal, instead of passing to teammate Edin Dzeko. Petulant sure, but what followed was comedy gold.

The Italian boss completely lost his mind and substituted the striker instantly. Balotelli’s response? To make a petulant gesture to his boss indicating his surprise and annoyance he was being substituted.

CARLOS TEVEZ v ROBERTO MANCINI (2011)

Tevez eventually came back to help city win the Premier League

Carlos Tevez could never be accused of not giving 100% on the pitch when he played, it was just difficult to get him on there sometimes.

A mere two months after the Balotelli debacle, City boss Mancini must have been wondering what he had done to deserve such tempestuous strikers as Tevez refused to warm up against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Although the Argentine claimed it was a misunderstanding, his Italian boss claimed he would never play for the club again.

Needless to say he did and played a huge part in delivering the Premier League title to the Etihad. Just childish all round.

PAOLO DI CANIO v PAUL ALCOCK (1998)

Moments later, Di Canio was to push Alcock. Cue the theatrics…

A moment etched in Premier League history, Di Canio’s moment of madness is part Greek Tragedy, part slapstick humour.

After being sent off for a clash with Arsenal enforcer Martin Keown, the fiery Italian began to remonstrate with referee Paul Alcock.

Clearly feeling as though he was not getting his point across, the former AC Milan striker then shoved Alcock, who proceeded to hit the deck in instalments with his leg trailing limply behind him.

As Di Canio made his way off the pitch, Nigel Winterburn saw fit to politely offer his views on the matter to the Wednesday forward. But as soon as Di Canio turned to face the left-back, he had bolted out of fear.

WILLIAM GALLAS v THE WORLD (2008)

An advertising board bore the brunt of Gallas’ frustrations

A tough trip to Birmingham City for Arsenal was made even more difficult when Croatia striker Eduardo was brutally cut down in the first half by a scything challenge from Martin Taylor.

With emotions running high, the Gunners were then held at St Andres courtesy of a stoppage time penalty from James McFadden, effectively extinguishing their faint hopes of winning the Premier League title.

As the visiting players left the pitch, captain Gallas remained on the tear almost in tears.

After kicking an advertising board, the France international had to be practically carried off the pitch by the erudite Arsene Wenger – who was as bemused as everyone in the stadium by the outburst.

ERIC CANTONA v CRYSTAL PALACE FAN (1995)

Cantona took exception to a loud-mouthed Eagles supporter

Rumour has it, Inter general manager Paolo Taveggia, and the Italian club’s prospective owner, Massimo Moratti, were at Selhurst Park on that infamous night in south London to scout the Frenchman.

With Andy Cole arriving two weeks prior for a record £7million, speculation about the maverick’s future was building.

Having already received a red card for booting marker Richard Shaw, Cantona was confronted by 20-year-old double-glazing fitter Matthew Simmons.

What he said remains a mystery to this day, but the striker’s short fuse was lit and he launched into Simmons with a kung-fu kick before laying into the youngster with a barrage of punches.