MLS remains most diverse professional sports league in North America

NEW YORK, NY (Thursday, April 23, 2015) – Major League Soccer continues to be a frontrunner in the field of diversity in its landmark 20th season, boasting the most diverse group of athletes among the five major team sports leagues based in the U.S. as determined by birthplace. As of April 23, a total of 58 countries are represented in the League from its current pool of 551 players.

Nearly half of the players in MLS were born outside of the U.S. and Canada – a total of 236 players hailing from Central America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean. Argentina and England claim the most MLS representation, providing the League with 22 players each.  Standouts include Argentine maestros Javier Morales (RSL), Diego Valeri (POR), Ignacio Piatti (MTL) and English stalwarts Bradley Wright-Phillips (NYRB), Dom Dwyer (SKC) and Liam Ridgewell (POR). The two countries are followed by Brazil (19), Jamaica (18), France (15) and Colombia (14) in contributing the greatest number of players.

MLS is also comprised of a wealth of domestic talent with the majority of its players born in the United States and Canada – a total of 315 players, spanning 41 states and provinces. The states that claim the most representation this year are California (59), Texas (27) and Ohio (20). Ontario leads MLS player numbers in Canada with 13. Last year, a total of 17 current and former MLS players (15 of whom were born in the U.S.) were named to the U.S. Men’s National Team roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup that was held in Brazil.

This summer, MLS will look to send a record-breaking number of players to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament that kicks off on July 7 in Dallas, Texas. In 2013, MLS had 32 players named to Gold Cup rosters, tying the MLS record first set in 2011.

MLS Player Maps

MLS Player Lists

The primary transfer window, in which MLS clubs may acquire players under contract in other countries, closes May 12 with the secondary window re-opening from July 8-August 6. Notable players who are already set to come to MLS this summer are English icons Frank Lampard (NYCFC) and Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy) and Mexican star Erick “Cubo” Torres (Houston Dynamo). Distinguished players that have recently joined the league include Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Kaká (Orlando City SC), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC), David Villa (NYCFC), Mix Diskerud (NYCFC) and Shaun Maloney (Chicago Fire).

League (year)

Total # of Players

Players Born Abroad

(% born outside U.S.A. & Canada)

Countries Represented

(incl. U.S.A. & Canada)

MLS (2015)


236 (42.8%)


NBA (2014-2015)


87 (19.6%)


NHL (2014-2015)


199 (26.4%)


MLB (2014)


278 (26.5%)


NFL (2014)


57 (2.8%)



Courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau

*Leagues in season include all players on current rosters.

*Leagues out of season include players on rosters when the season ended.