The bond between Liga MX and MLS: All the players from both leagues
Rodolfo Pizarro is the latest player who has decided to switch the Liga MX for MLS, and we look at each footballer that has played in both leagues.
Since David Beckham announced in 2018 the name and logo of Inter Milan his new Major League Soccer team, he promised to bring the best players from around the world by the time they played their first game. The new franchise had various names on their list like Gareth Bale, Edinson Cavani, Luka Modric and David Silva, however they had to look to their border country to sign their franchise player.
Inter Miami paid Monterrey a little more than $12 million to sign Rodolfo Pizarro, who said he wants to write history with the new MLS franchise that is debuting this season, and the 25-year-old will join various Mexican soccer players who are playing in this league to celebrate the 25th season of Major League Soccer.
Since the first season of MLS, they tried to go hand by hand with the Liga MX. Throughout all of these years the love/hate relationship has grown and they have created joint tournaments like the Leagues Cup, Campeones Cup and the MLS All-Star Game. The leagues have also swapped a good amount of players in the past, but this season that number grew.
The 25th season of the MLS will have newly signed Mexican players like Pizarro, Javier Hernández and Alan Pulido. Those players will join other fellow countrymen like Carlos Vela and Jonathan dos Santos, who have been in the league for more than two years now. This year, Major League Soccer will have a total of 239 players that have played in both leagues.
Legendary players like Jorge Campos, Hugo Sánchez, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Marcelo Balboa, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Rafa Márquez, Landon Donovan and “El Pescadito” Ruiz played in both leagues. The latest examples are Chicharito, Pulido and Pizarro. As you can see, the leagues have swapped players for 25 years, but some players shine more than others.
From the 239 players that have been in both leagues, 80 of them were born in Mexico, 37 in the United States and 33 in Argentina. The other 89 players come from different parts of the world from leagues that are not that popular globally. For example Dominic Kinnear is from Scotland, Abdul Conteh is from Sierra Leone and they have played in the MLS and Liga MX.
A really rare example is Alain N’Kong, because he is from Cameroon and he became champion in the Mexican championship with Atlante back in 1993.
In 1996, Major League Soccer had its first season and one of its first idols was Mexican goalkeeper Campos, who rapidly delighted the fans with his bright and colorful jerseys when he played for LA Galaxy. He also won the MLS title with Galaxy back in 1998.
Campos was the pioneer for more superstars to come play in Major League Soccer. After him Sánchez, Blanco and Márquez came to play in MLS. Also, Central American stars like Carlos Ruiz from Guatemala, Carlos Pavón from Honduras and Mauricio Cienfuegos from El Salvador joined different MLS teams.
Not all the superstars came from the Liga MX, because Landon Donovan, who started his career with San Jose Earthquakes and then made history with LA Galaxy, came from the MLS to join León.
Most expensive signings
Now that it is official that Pizarro will leave Monterrey to join Inter Miami, the 25-year-old became the most expensive signing that has occurred between teams of both leagues. According to Transfermarkt, the MLS team paid $12 million to Monterrey for the Mexican midfielder.
Other big signings between the leagues are the ones of Pulido, Brian Fernández and Uriel Antuna. The first player mentioned before left Chivas to join San Jose Earthquakes this season and the total cost of the forward was $10 million. Fernández was playing with Necaxa in 2018 and only one year later he left the Liga MX team to play for Portland Timbers. Antuna was a little bit different because he played last year with LA Galaxy but he was only there on loan so Chivas had to pay Manchester City $10 million to sign the Mexican midfielder.
Champions in both leagues
Even though 239 players have played in both leagues, only four have won the MLS Cup and the Liga MX title. The first player to do it was Campos, who won in Mexico with Pumas and Cruz Azul and then won with Chicago Fire.
The second player who achieved this honor was Hérculez Gómez, who won the MLS Cup with LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders and then won in Mexico with Santos Laguna. Another player who lived a similar experience to Gómez was Omar González, who did it with LA Galaxy and Pachuca. Jorge Villafaña also won in both leagues, the first time he did it was with Portland Timbers and then with Santos Laguna.
The Liga MX and MLS have swapped their top scorers as well: throughout history a total of nine players have made the switch after winning the golden boot. Carlos Hermosillo, Blanco, Omar Bravo, Chicharito, Gómez and Raúl Ruidíaz are the players who first won the golden boot in Mexico and then joined an MLS team, while Ruiz, Donovan and Camilo Sanvezzo did it the other way.
MLS seduces players and is taking goal scorers from Liga MX
The nationality that predominates from players that have played in both leagues is Mexican, but this year there was a boom of players that joined the MLS. This might be because the North American league has a better economy, lifestyle and more attention. These could be only some of the reasons why players are choosing to come and continue their careers in the United States.
But this year we saw a trend of more players, from all nationalities, leaving Mexico to join Major League Soccer like: Lucas Cavallini, Edinson Flores and Lucas Zelarayán. All three players will be franchise players in this 2020 season.
Also, teams from Major League Soccer have set their eyes on the Liga MX top scorers because in the last two seasons they have taken away 300 goals from them. Paying huge amounts of money they have signed Pulido, Darwin Quintero, Ruidíaz and Fernández.
Players that you didn’t remember played in both leagues
Amongst the 239 players who have played in both leagues that left their footprint in the Liga MX, only a few of them have failed to succeed in MLS. Players who won’t be remembered by the fans in the United States are Daniel Guzmán, Guillermo Franco, Vicente Sánchez, Milton Caraglio and Fernando Aristeguieta. They all succeeded in Mexico but failed to make an impact in the United States.