The Greatest Brazilian Players to Play for MLS

What impact have Brazilian players had on Major League Soccer?
New England Revolution V Orlando City SC
New England Revolution V Orlando City SC / Chris McEniry/Overflow Productions, Inc./GettyImages

Ever wondered how some of Brazil’s finest soccer talents fared when they crossed the continent to try their luck in Major League Soccer (MLS)? It’s no secret that MLS has been working hard to bring in big names from world soccer, and Brazilians are always high on American clubs' wish lists. Today, let’s dive into this story, highlighting some names that truly lived up to their reputations.

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6. Douglas Costa

Douglas Costa
Portland Timbers v Los Angeles Galaxy / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

Let’s start with Douglas Costa. The skillful forward, now playing for Fluminense, had a brief stint with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2023. In just 22 matches, Costa managed to score four goals.

5. Alexandre Pato

Facundo Torres
Orlando City SC v New York Red Bulls / Ira L. Black - Corbis/GettyImages

Next up, Alexandre Pato. The eternal prodigy who wowed the world with his technique and goals at Milan. Pato joined Orlando City in 2021, after amicably ending his contract with São Paulo. During his time with the purple team, he played 32 games and scored four goals.

4. Juninho Pernambucano

New York Red Bulls v Seattle Sounders - FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup / Norm Hall/GettyImages

Then we have Juninho Pernambucano. A maestro on the field, revealed by Sport and an eternal idol of Vasco. In 2013, he tried his luck with the New York Red Bulls. His stint was short, with only 13 games, but even in that brief time, he brought a touch of class and experience. It's fascinating how, even in his later years, he still managed to enchant with his refined technique and deadly free kicks.

3. Kaká

Ricardo Kaká - Soccer Player
MLS match New York Red Bulls v Orlando City SC / Ira L. Black - Corbis/GettyImages

We can’t forget to mention Kaká. The star who swapped Milan for Orlando City and became one of MLS’s biggest icons. In 28 league matches, Kaká scored nine goals and made seven assists. Beyond the stats, Kaká brought visibility and charm to MLS that few could match. His ability to decide games and his demeanor on and off the field made him a true ambassador of soccer in America.

2. Júlio Baptista

Julio Baptista
San Jose Earthquakes v Orlando City SC / Alex Menendez/GettyImages

Júlio Baptista is another name worth mentioning. In 2016, he joined Orlando City, where Kaká was already shining. Júlio Baptista had a short but effective stint. In 23 games, he scored six goals and provided three assists, being considered one of the best substitutes in MLS that year. He might not have been a regular starter, but his impact coming off the bench was notable. It’s intriguing how a player many thought was in decline managed to reinvent himself and show he still had a lot to offer, even in the final minutes of games.

1. Júlio César

Julio Cesar, Matt Hedges
Toronto FC v FC Dallas / R. Yeatts/GettyImages

Lastly, we have Júlio César, the legendary Brazilian goalkeeper. In 2014, he was loaned to Toronto FC. His MLS debut happened in March that year, and although his stay was short, Júlio César brought unparalleled security and experience to Toronto FC’s goal. The veteran goalkeeper showed that quality and experience make all the difference. It’s impressive how, even in just a few months, he managed to positively impact the team.

These are just a few examples of how great Brazilian talents have fared in MLS. What’s clear is that the presence of these stars has helped elevate the level of MLS, bringing more visibility and quality to the league.