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Landon Donovan and the 15 Greatest MLS Players of All Time

MLS: The 15 Greatest Players in League History

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From an uncertain beginning, with teams being contracted and moved, to a now nearly 20-year history on the field, Major League Soccer has grown up. MLS has also come into the limelight more of late due to the omission of league legend Landon Donovan from the U.S. team that will play in this summer's World Cup in Brazil. While Donovan isn't going to play for his country, where does he rank all-time among MLS' greatest players?

15. Robin Fraser, Defender

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15. Robin Fraser, Defender

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Fraser was one of the league's best defenders in its early years. A stalwart for the Los Angeles Galaxy and later the Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew, Fraser made the league's Best XI on five occasions, still the most of any defender in MLS history.

14. Brad Davis, Midfielder

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14. Brad Davis, Midfielder

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Davis is currently fifth in MLS history in assists with 106, in a career that has spanned 321 appearances. From 2009-12, he had at least 12 assists every season (52 total) and was named the Houston Dynamo's MVP all four years. A six-time All-Star, Davis was a member of Houston's MLS Cup winning clubs in 2006 and 2007.

13. Chad Marshall, Defender

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13. Chad Marshall, Defender

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Perhaps the name on the list least familiar to casual soccer fans, Marshall was the MLS Defender of the Year in both 2008 and 2009, joining Carlos Bocanegra as the only players in league history to win the award twice in a row. Now with the Seattle Sounders, Marshall spent the first 10 years of his career with the Columbus Crew, winning one MLS Cup and three Supporters' Shield trophies.

12. Nick Rimando, Goalkeeper

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12. Nick Rimando, Goalkeeper

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While many consider Kevin Hartman the best goalkeeper in MLS history, and his longevity has given Hartman most of the league's major goalkeeping statistical records, Rimando is on course to break most of them and go down in history as the best shot-stopper to this point. Rimando made a memorable save in penalty kicks to help D.C. United win the 2004 Eastern Conference final. He has 111 shutouts, one behind Hartman, in 62 fewer games.

11. Jeff Cunningham, Forward

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11. Jeff Cunningham, Forward

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Until last week, Cunningham was the MLS' all-time leader in goals scored with 134. His 40 game-winning goals are still the most in league history. And while Cunningham is known as a bit of a stats compiler, having appeared in 365 games, he only started 233 of them. It took Donovan nearly 4,000 minutes of playing time to produce the goals that Cunningham did.

10. Eddie Pope, Defender

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10. Eddie Pope, Defender

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Perhaps the league's first true great defender, Pope was the backbone during D.C. United's dynasty when MLS began, as the club appeared in the first four MLS Cup finals, winning three. His golden goal in the 94th minute of the very first final in 1996 pushed United past the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-2. Pope made the league's Best XI four times and was the 1997 Defender of the Year. Pope made 254 appearances in 12 years for three clubs.

9. Ante Razov, Forward

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9. Ante Razov, Forward

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In terms of goalscorers and forwards, Razov might not be the first, second or third name that rattles off an MLS fan's tongue. But in a 13-year career with five different clubs, Razov netted 114 goals in just 262 games. Razov also set two MLS records that have not yet been seriously approached, for total shots (926) and shots on goal (441). Razov also produced 66 assists in his career.

8. Dwayne De Rosario, Midfielder

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8. Dwayne De Rosario, Midfielder

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De Rosario, now with Toronto FC, is tied with Donovan for most Best XI appearances with six and was the 2011 MLS MVP, despite playing for three different clubs that season. With 103 goals and 77 assists, De Rosario is one of the most productive players in league history and has won four MLS Cups, one U.S. Open Cup and one Supporters' Shield.

7. Preki, Midfielder

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7. Preki, Midfielder

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One of the league's most graceful players on the ball, Preki would often leave defenders helpless and in his wake with tantalizing ball movement and passing. Preki produced 79 goals and 112 assists in 10 years, all but one of which was spent in Kansas City. Preki won four major honors, including an MLS Cup, an Open Cup and two Supporters' Shields.

6. Carlos Valderrama, Midfielder

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6. Carlos Valderrama, Midfielder

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While many couldn't get past Valderrama's hair, underneath the signature look was one of MLS' all-time best creative players. Valderrama added a flair to the game that few could and was the main attraction for the Tampa Bay Mutiny in MLS' opening years. While Valderrama is third all-time in assists (114), he did that in just 175 games, nearly 200 less than leader Steve Ralston (135). Valderrama had 26 assists in 2000 with Tampa Bay.

5. Steve Ralston, Midfielder

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5. Steve Ralston, Midfielder

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While Valderrama's production is amazing, Ralston jumps ahead of him on this list in part because of his longevity. A teammate of Valderrama for several years with the Mutiny, Ralston later moved on to New England and was a stalwart of the Revolution's midfield for eight years. Over a 14-year career, he averaged nearly 10 assists per year and added 76 career goals. Ralston was also sent off just once in 378 appearances.

4. Marco Etcheverry, Midfielder

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4. Marco Etcheverry, Midfielder

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Known as "El Diablo" during his long time running the midfield for D.C. United, Etcheverry played the game with high passion that fueled United to victories and drove referees insane. Etcheverry amassed 101 assists in 191 games over an eight-year career, but in MLS' first seasons from 1996-99, he was at his best, with 21 goals and 66 assists, as United won three MLS Cup titles. Etcheverry played in 23 playoff games in his career.

3. Taylor Twellman, Forward

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3. Taylor Twellman, Forward

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Now known as a commentator on ESPN and lead voice in advancing care for concussions, Twellman made for a pretty good player, too. He is seventh in career goals with 101, but that was accomplished in a mere 174 games, less than half the number Cunningham needed to score 134. Twellman scored 23 goals as a rookie in 2002 and reached the MLS Cup final four times, scoring in '06 & '07 losses to Houston.

2. Jaime Moreno, Midfielder/Forward

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2. Jaime Moreno, Midfielder/Forward

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Here's the player in MLS who has a rightful challenge to Donovan as being the league's best of all time. Moreno won four MLS Cups with United (1996-97, '99, '04), was five times named to the league's Best XI and his 83 home goals are the most in MLS. All but two of Moreno's 133 career goals came for United. He hit his career high in goals (16) three times (1997, '98, '05). He and Donovan are the only two players to have 100+ goals and assists.

1. Landon Donovan, Midfielder/Forward

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1. Landon Donovan, Midfielder/Forward

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By any measure, Donovan has proved himself to be the best player in the 18-year history of MLS. Now first in goals (136) and second in assists (120), were MLS still keeping "points" as a stat, Donovan would be the all-time leader with 392 (Moreno has 368, no one else is close). Donovan has won five MLS Cups, been named to the Best XI six times and also won two Supporters' Shield and an Open Cup. And, no, he's not going to Brazil.