From College Soccer to the Pros: What Schools Produces the Most MLS Players?

Best soccer colleges: What are the top colleges as far as those who’ve produced the most professional soccer players, specifically the most MLS (Major League Soccer) players? Take a look at the list below of the best soccer colleges. The top colleges for producing MLS soccer players are: UCLA, Virginia, Santa Clara and Indiana isn’t too far behind. What are some of the biggest college soccer feeders into the MLS? What colleges does the MLS recruit the most players from? What are the best soccer colleges to attend?

Credit goes to Duke Soccer for the image above at the top of this article about best soccer colleges.

But the real question might just be is going to college worth it if you want to become a professional soccer player, if that is your main goal. Why not try to go to Europe or South America and train with a team instead of going to college? But if you choose the right school, with the right coach, who plays the right style of soccer, you might just get to the MLS and beyond as well as get a good education.

If you’re going to go to college to play soccer, and your main goal is to get to the pro ranks, one of the biggest factors is who’s coaching the team and if that coach has developed other professional soccer players in the past. What are their connections to professional teams in Europe, to the U.S. national team, or with MLS clubs? If you play well for this coach he will most likely assist you in getting tryouts for professional soccer teams. Make sure this is clear, that you want to play professional soccer after college before you sign a letter of intent. Go to the one the best soccer colleges you can that gets you on the way to the pros.

Best Soccer Colleges

Additionally, as a young player you want to choose a school where the coach teaches a style of soccer that will enable you to play professional soccer – and where you will play a lot and learn. If the coach has played professional soccer, then that’s a good sign that he will be able to train you to become a professional. Overall though, you need to get a feeling that the coach has your best interests in mind and will take care of you as a person and a player. You want to go to a school where you’ll feel confident and comfortable both on the soccer field and in the classroom.

Another question to ask is, who is the assistant coach? Believe it or not, the assistant coach can sometimes have a greater impact on a player than the head coach, especially if that coach played your position. And if you’re a goalkeeper, you’ll need to find out if there’s a goalkeeper coach who will train you on a regular basis?

Then there’s another take on playing college soccer and going to the pros:

What needs to be said is that college soccer is the biggest obstacle to progress in the area of developing future pro players. Everyone, apart from a few college diehards, knows this to be the truth. But it is a truth that is rarely spelled out.

There are a lot of factors that go into what school you choose or if you decide to go to college. Injuries happen, that’s a fact, will you be happy if you get hurt and are unable to play soccer at the school? When you are done playing soccer, what will you do? It’s a cliché because it’s true – you’ll need something else to fall back on, another career, and it pays to think about this in advance.

You can only play professional soccer for a maximum of 10 years. However, the majority of players only play for a few years at the most – not all the best college players are able to make it in the MLS or beyond. Some give it a shot for a four or five years but are unable to play as much as they would like and as don’t make enough money to raise a family. But we want to strive towards a goal and believe that we can achieve it. I know a number of players who didn’t even start in college and were able to move into the professional ranks. If you’re determined you can make it.

Of course, most professional soccer players continue on with the game after they retire. Moving into coaching soccer or front office positions is another option after your professional career.

Is there a lot of competition for your position? Will you start as a freshman? Overall, some good questions relate to the teams general performance: How many times have they made the playoffs? How many players have made all conference teams or received national awards?

In terms of finances, how many scholarships do they have? What is their financial aid like? If you perform well will you be rewarded with a bigger scholarship?

Lastly, today most MLS teams have developmental programs at the youth level. These academy programs at the youth level enable young soccer players to learn in a professional environment before they move on to playing college or professional soccer. Players can even play for their second tiered pro team and then move on to play college soccer if they don’t sign with the pro team.

Ask as many questions as you need to before you sign a letter of intent. Find a college where you like the coach. Find a college where you can see yourself getting a lot of playing time. Here’s a run down of the colleges that produced the most pro soccer players:

Best Soccer Colleges: NCAA Production of MLS Players

Akron University

  • Teal Bunbury, New England Revolution
  • Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers
  • Darren Mattocks, Portland Timbers
  • Perry Kitchen, D.C. United
  • DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders
  • Will Trapp, Columbus Crew
  • Steve Zakuani, Seattle Sounders
  • Joao Moutinho, Orlando City
  • Richie Laryea, Orlando City

Bradley University:

  • Gavin Glinton, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Bryan Namoff, DC United

Brown University:

  • Jeff Larentowicz, New England Revolution
  • Thomas McNamara, NYCFC

Cal State Northridge

  • Sean Franklin, LA Galaxy
  • Daniel Paladini, Chicago Fire
  • Rafael Garcia, LA Galaxy

Clemson University:

  • Kenny Cutler, Real Salt Lake
  • Stuart Holden, Houston Dynamo
  • Dane Richards, New York University
  • Nathan Sturgis, Real Salt Lake
  • Doug Warren, New Engand Revolution
  • Thomas McNamara, NYCFC

Connecticut University

  • Andre Blake, Philadelphia Union
  • Cyle Larin, Orlando City
  • Chris Gbandi, FC Dallas

Creighton University:

  • Brian Mullan, Houston Dynamo
  • Richard Mulrooney, Houston Dynamo
  • Brian Kamler, D.C. United
  • Mehdi Ballouchy, NYCFC

Drake University:

  • Ezra Hendrickson, Columbus Crew

Duke University:

  • Jeremy Ebobisse, Portland Timbers
  • Brian White, New York Red Bulls
  • Carter Manley, Minnesota United
  • Joe Germanese, New England Revolution (Transferred from Vanderbilt)
  • Jay Heaps, New England Revolution
  • Jason Kreis, Dallas Burn
  • John Kerr, Dallas Burn, New England Revolution
  • Blake Camp, New York Red Bulls
  • Chris Loftus, New England
  • Kyle Helton, New England
  • Jordan Cila, Colorado
  • Ali Curtis, DC United
  • Evan Whitfield, Chicago Fire
  • Mark Dodd, Dallas Burn
  • Garth Lagerway, D.C. United
  • Andrew Wenger, Houston Dynamo

East Carolina University:

  • Clyde Simms

Florida International University:

  • Bobby Boswell, Houston Dynamo
  • Steve Ralston, New England Revolution

Fresno State:

  • Tim Martin, San Jose Clash
  • Sterling Wescott, D.C. United
  • Ryan Tinsley, Kansas City Wizards
  • Mark Dougherty, San Jose Clash

Gonzaga University:

  • Brian Ching, Houston Dynamo

Hartwick College:

  • Tyler Hemming, Toronto FC
  • Dominic Kinnear, San Jose Clash, Colorado Rapids

Hofstra University:

  • Gary Flood, New England Revolution

Indiana University:

  • Nick Garcia, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Ned Grabavoy, San Jose Earthquakes
  • John Michael Hayden, Houston Dynamo
  • Chris Klein, LA Galaxy
  • Drew Moor, FC Dallas (Transferred from Furman University)
  • Pat Noonan, Columbus Crew
  • Danny O’Rourke, Columbus Crew
  • Todd Yeagley, Columbus Crew
  • Ken Snow, Kansas City Wizards

Furman University

  • Walker Zimmerman, Los Angeles FC
  • Ricardo Clark, Columbus Crew SC
  • Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders
  • Shea Salinas, San Jose Earthquakes


  • Austin Berry, Chicago Fire
  • Nick DeLeon, DC United
  • Kenney Walker, LA Galaxy
  • Andrew Farrell, New England Revolution

North Carolina State University:

  • Pablo Mastroeni, Colorado Rapids
  • Tab Ramos, New York MetroStars
  • Roy Lassiter, Kansas City Wizards

Oklahoma State University:

  • Ray Burse, FC Dallas

Old Dominion University:

  • David Horst, Real Salt Lake

Oregon State University:

  • Robbie Findley, Real Salt Lake
  • Alan Gordon, LA Galaxy (Transferred from Yavapai College)
  • Ryan Johnson, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Bryan Jordan, LA Galaxy
  • Danny Mwanga, Philadelphia Union

Rockhurst University:

  • Diego Guttierez, Chicago Fire (Transferred from U. of Evansville)

Rutgers University

  • Alexi Lalas, LA Galaxy

Saint John’s University:

  • Shalrie Joseph, New England Revolution (Transferred from Bryant & Stratton)

Saint Louis University:

  • Brian McBride, Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire
  • Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo
  • Jack Jewsbury, Kansas City Wizards

San Jose University:

  • C.J. Brown, Chicago Fire

Santa Clara University:

  • Joe Cannon, San Jose Earthquakes (Transferred from UC Santa Barbara)
  • Eric Denton, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Steve Cronin, LA Galaxy
  • Matt Hatzke, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Amaechi Igwe, New England Revolution
  • Paul Bravo, San Jose Clash, Colorado Rapids
  • Paul Holocher, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Jeff Baicher, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Mehdi Ballouchy, NYCFC

Seton Hall University:

  • Jason Hernandez, San Jose Earthquakes, NYCFC
  • Sacha Kljestan, CD Chivas USA
  • Gordon Kljestan, New York Red Bulls (Transferred from Cal-State Fullerton)

Southern Methodist University:

  • Ugo Ihemelu, Colorado Rapids

Stanford University:

  • J. J. Koval, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Brandon Vincent, Chicago Fire
  • Tomas Hilliard-Arce, LA Galaxy
  • Todd Dunivant, Toronto FC
  • Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew
  • Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  • Brandon Vincent, Chicago Fire
  • Roger Levesque, Seattle Sounders
  • Simon Elliott, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Taylor Graham, Seattle Sounders
  • Ryan Nelson, DC United
  • Mark Semioli, LA Galaxy

State Fair Community College:

  • Edson Buddle, LA Galaxy

University of California, Berkeley:

  • Sam Junqua, Houston Dynamo
  • Steve Birnbaum, DC United
  • Connor Hallisey, Sporting Kansas City
  • Calen Carr, Chicago Fire
  • Nick Hatzke, Houston Dynamo
  • Servando Carrasco, Orlando City
  • Stefan Frei, Toronto FC, Seattle Sounders
  • Andrew Jacobson, D.C. United
  • Eric Kronberg, Kansas City Wizards
  • Steve Purdy, FC Dallas
  • Luke Sassano, New York Red Bulls
  • Josh Saunders, Los Angeles Galaxy, NYCFC
  • Tyson Wahl, Seattle Sounders FC

University of California Irvine:

  • Brad Evans, Columbus Crew
  • Anthony Hamilton, CD Chivas USA

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA):

  • Abu Danladi, Minnesota United FC
  • Frankie Amaya, FC Cincinnati
  • Anderson Asiedu, Atlanta United
  • Jonathan Bornstein, CD Chivas USA (Transferred from Cal Poly Pomona)
  • Kevin Hartman, Kansas City Wizards
  • Jordan Harvey, Colorado Rapids
  • Frankie Hejduk, Columbus Crew
  • Patrick Ianni, Houston Dynamo
  • Matt Reis, New England Revolution
  • Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
  • Sasha Victorine, Kansas City Wizards
  • Marvell Wynne, Toronto FC
  • Ante Razov, Chivas
  • Eddie Lewis, LA Galaxy
  • Billy Thompson, Columbus Crew
  • Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City Wizards (transfered from San Diego State)
  • Tayt Ianni, Tampa Bay
  • Adam Frye, Tampa Bay
  • Chris Snitko, Kansas City Wizards
  • Greg Vanney, LA Galaxy
  • Zak Ibsen, New England Revolution
  • Paul Caligiuri, Columbus Crew
  • John O’Brien, Chivas U.S.A.
  • Matt Taylor, Kansas City Wizards
  • Marvell Wynne, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Chance Myers, Sporting Kansas City
  • Tony Beltran, Real Salt Lake
  • Andy Rose, Seattle Sounders
  • Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
  • Sal Zizzo, Atlanta United

University of California Riverside:

  • Charles Alamo, LA Galaxy

University of California Santa Barbara:

  • Sean Franklin, LA Galaxy
  • Andy Iro, Columbus Crew
  • Dan Kennedy, Chivas USA
  • Ciaran O’Brien, Colorado Rapids
  • Chris Pontius, DC United
  • Sam Garza, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Luis Silva, DC United
  • Eric Avila, FC Dallas
  • Erik Hurtado, Sporting Kansas City

University of Connecticut:

  • Ryan Cordeiro, DC United
  • Julius James, Toronto FC

University of Evansville:

  • Cory Elenio, Columbus Crew

University of Kentucky:

  • Andy Gruenebaum

University of Maryland:

  • Marc Burch, DC United (Transferred from U. of Evansville)
  • Jason Garey, Columbus Crew
  • Stephen King, Chicago Fire
  • Seth Stammler, New York Red Bulls
  • Maurice Adu, Toronto FC
  • A.J. DeLaGarza, LA Galaxy
  • Omar, Gonzalez, LA Galaxy

University of North Carolina:

  • Michael Harrington, Kansas City Wizards
  • Justin Hughes, Colorado Rapids
  • Dax McCarty, FC Dallas
  • Eddie Pope, D.C. United, Real Salt Lake
  • Corey Ashe, Houston Dynamo, Orlando City
  • Matt Hedges, FC Dallas
  • Zach Loyd, FC Dallas
  • Jordan McCrary, New England Revolution
  • Mikey Lopez, New York City FC
  • Omar Holness, Real Salt Lake
  • Michael Farfan, Seattle Sounders

University of North Carolina-Charlotte:

  • Jon Busch

University of Notre Dame:

  • Kevin Goldthwaite, New York Red Bulls
  • Matt Besler, Kansas City
  • Nick Besler, Portland Timbers
  • Ryan Finley, Columbus Crew
  • Justin Morrow, Toronto FC
  • Dillion Powers, Colorado Rapids

University of Portland:

  • Michael Gavin, LA Galaxy
  • Kelly Gray, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Kasey Keller, Seattle Sounders FC
  • Joey Leonetti, LA Galaxy
  • Darren Sawatzky, New England Revolution
  • Andrew Gregor, Kansas City Wizards

University of San Francisco

  • Josh McKay, Colorado Rapids
  • John Doyle, San Jose Clash
  • Miguel Aguilar, DC United
  • Aaron Chandler, Columbus Crew
  • Troy Dayak, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Brandon McDonald, San Jose Earthquakes
  • David Romney, Los Angeles Galaxy
  • Conor Chinn, New York Red Bulls
  • Rob Valentino, Colorado Rapids
  • Tim Weaver, San Jose Earthquake
  • Marquis White, New England Revolution

University of South Carolina:

  • Clint Mathis, Real Salt Lake
  • Josh Wolff, Kansas City Wizards

University of South Florida:

  • Jeff Cunnignham, FC Dallas

University of Virginia:

  • Chris Albright, New England Revolution
  • Adam Cristman, New England Revolution
  • Alecko Eskandarian, CD Chivas USA
  • Hunter Freeman, New York Red Bulls
  • Ben Olsen, DC United
  • Claudio Reyna, New York Red Bulls
  • Brad Agoos, DC United
  • John Harkes, DC United
  • A.J. Wood, New York Metro Stars
  • Richie Williams, D.C. United
  • Claudio Reyna, New York Red Bulls
  • Curt Onalfo, LA Galaxy
  • Kris Kelderman, D.C. United
  • Clint Peay, D.C. United

University of Washington:

  • Ryan Herman, FC Dallas
  • Ely Allen, LA Galaxy
  • Brandon Prideaux, Chicago Fire
  • Ian Russel, San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy
  • Craig Waibel, San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo
  • Ty Harden, LA Galaxy
  • Christian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  • Dusty Hudock, Colorado Rapids
  • Mike Chabala, Houston Dynamo
  • Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  • Handwalla Bwana, Seattle Sounders

Villanova University:

  • Jim Curtin, CD Chivas USA

Wake Forest University:

  • Jon Bakero, Chicago Fire
  • Ema Twumasi, FC Dallas
  • Brian Carroll, Columbus Crew
  • Brian Edwards, Toronto FC
  • Will Hesmer, Columbus Crew
  • Sam Cronin, San Jose, Colorado Rapids
  • Jack Harrison, New York City FC
  • Pat Phelan, New England Revolution

West Texas A&M:

  • Davy Arnaud, Kansas City Wizards

West Virginia University:

  • Pat Carroll, DC United

William & Mary:

  • Wade Barret, Houston Dynamo

Winthrop University:

  • John Gilkerson, New York Red Bulls

USL Teams that develop MLS talent:

Then there are a number of players who chose to stay in the USL and play indoor soccer in the winter, making twice as much money as they might have if they’d opted for the MLS.

  • Seattle Sounders:
    • Ian Russel
    • Brian Ching
    • Craig Waibel
    • Brandon Prideaux
    • Shawn Medved
    • Dusty Hudock
    • Marcus Hahnemann
  • Rochester Rhinos
    • Kevin Novak
    • Alfonso Loera
    • Chris Aloisi
  • Montrel Impact
    • Greg Sutton
    • Matt Jordan

I’m surprised the MLS and USL haven’t worked out a good farm system, where the best of the USL play against the MLS. Is there a MLS all-stars versus USL all stars game? I think the MLS is too busy playing against teams in Europe, rightly so, exhibition games to promote the league and expose the players to the top level. Didn’t the MLS all-stars play Real Madrid at the Bernabeau? But the MLS and the USL need to continue to enhance their relationship with USL teams.

More to come on the best soccer colleges as we built up the list of players.