After a longer-than-usual off-season in Major League Soccer, the teams are almost back to it with the first game of the 2023 campaign starting on February 25th. Squads have changed and there’s a reason for supporters and followers to be excited, as we review the top new MLS players in 2023, as well as a few who have moved between MLS franchises.
New MLS players in 2023
Mateusz Klich, Leeds United to D.C. United
Joining Major League Soccer from the Premier League means that Mateusz Klich will be on one of the highest MLS salaries within the D.C. United roster.
The Polish international enjoyed cult status at Elland Road as he was a staple of the Marco Bielsa promotion-winning team. Now linking up with the England international goal scoring record holder Wayne Rooney, Klich could be pivotal to a D.C. United resurgence in 2023.
Ashley Westwood, Burnley to Charlotte FC
Charlotte FC has picked up a pillar of experience as Ashley Westwood joins the club from Burnley, with over 300 appearances in the Premier League spanning his career with the Clarets and Aston Villa.
After Burnley’s relegation to the EFL Championship, the incoming manager Vincent Kompany took a new direction that did not include Westwood. The midfielder still however brings a lot of wisdom to a team entering just its second-ever professional season, making him one of the most invaluable MLS offseason arrivals this year.
Eldin Jukapovic, Everton to LAFC
Goalkeepers joining the league might not be the most exciting new MLS players in 2023. However, they go a long way to winning the title. As reigning champions, Los Angeles FC has picked up another keeper as Tomás Romero moved to Toronto FC.
Eldin Jakupovic is used to being the stand-in having seldom played in recent years, notably playing just four competitive first-team games in the last six seasons. The former Hull City, Leicester City, and Everton shot-stopper will be able to help and train aspiring keepers at the club. After all, he’s not going to be required every week between the sticks.
Enzo Copetti, Racing Club to Charlotte FC
One of the new MLS players in 2023 is the 27-year-old Enzo Copetti. The Argentine forward was prolific for Racing Club and deployed in multiple roles in the attack.
His strong aerial presence as well as finishing ability will allow him to help Charlotte FC who are still trying to establish their identity in Major League Soccer.
Tim Leibold, Hamburg SV to Sporting Kansas City
New MLS players from Europe include Tim Leibold, who has joined Sporting Kansas City. Statistically, the Wizards had one of the worst defensive performances in the 2022 season throughout Major League Soccer.
Leibold brings a lot of versatility at the back with his passing ability which famed him during his tenure at Hamburg SV. The former Dino captain is also known for his ability to keep the ball, an attribute that will enhance the stability at the back.
Evander, FC Midtjylland to Portland Timbers
One of the most exciting new MLS players from Europe is Evander. The Brazilian joined Portland Timbers after spending multiple years excelling in Denmark with Midtjylland. After scoring and assisting multiple goals for the Danish powerhouse, Evander longed for a new challenge as well as a climate closer to his native Brazil.
It’s clear that he relishes the big moments and matches having performed far beyond expectation in the UEFA Europa League. He notably scored and assisted two in his club’s historic 5-1 win over Lazio. He’s also shown the mental capacity and consistency to perform throughout the whole season. This was displayed with his penchant for goals in the championship round of the Super Liga. It’s this kind of player that Portland needs to take the club back to the top of the MLS standings and potentially CONCACAF glory.
Njabulo Blom, Kaizer Chiefs to St. Louis City
St. Louis City, a brand new club in Major League Soccer this season, subsequently requires brand new MLS players in 2023. Njabulo Blom adds to the South African flavor of the franchise as he links up with compatriot Bradley Carnell.
The former Kaizer Chiefs defensive midfielder found himself without regular gametime in 2022/23, despite having previously established himself in the starting eleven.
Reed Baker-Whiting, Sounders Academy to Seattle Sounders
While pundits can argue the bit over whether Reed Baker-Whiting is a new player in MLS or not, there’s no denying the 17-year-old belongs to the MLS wonder kids collective. The youngster has been called upon before by the main roster but in 2023 he could be set for a big break.
He’s a mainstay of the U19 team and is almost guaranteed to be on the plane to Indonesia for the U20 World Cup. Given the inconsistencies of their 2022 season, there’s room for the youngster to break into the first-team. Seattle won the CONCACAF Champions League but failed to qualify for the MLS postseason. Regular performers like Baker-Whiting are needed more than ever.
Josef Martinez, Atlanta United to Inter Miami
Another inconspicuous entry to the ‘new player pool’ in 2023 is Josef Martinez. The Venezuelan, however, will feel like a new player given the tail end of his Atlanta United tenure was limited to substitute appearances.
He’s going to Inter Miami to reprise his role of lead attacking threat as vacated by the retiring Gonzalo Higuain. Martinez when fit and on-song with the head coach is a goal-machine, having scored 98 MLS goals for Atlanta. That led to him winning the MVP award in the club’s title-winning 2018 season.