Top five players from the 2023 MLS season – ranked

With the New Year quickly approaching, it’s time to take a look at the five best players that stood out during the 2023 Major League Soccer campaign.

Players from across the league compiled brilliant seasons to lead their respective teams to postseason berths and/or trophies, continuing to raise the level of MLS ahead of the 2024 season.

Here are the top five players from the 2023 MLS season.

Héctor HerreraHéctor Herrera

Herrera led Houston back to the postseason / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

Hector Herrera posted an impressive four goals and 17 assists (second in MLS) to help bring Houston Dynamo back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 alongside first-year head coach Ben Olsen.

His standout 2023 season comes after joining Houston last season where he made only 10 league appearances, and he stole the show for the Dynamo in his first full MLS season. Houston came up short in their quest for MLS Cup glory in the Western Conference final against LAFC, but all signs point to them being back in the mix in 2024 with Herrera leading the way.

Thiago AlmadaThiago Almada

Almada led MLS in assists / Perry McIntyre/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Thiago Almada’s stock continued to rise during his stellar 2023 campaign where he amassed the second most goal contributions in MLS with 30.

The 2022 World Cup winner was key to Atlanta’s return to the postseason after missing out in 2022, as the free-kick maestro was central to everything going forward for the Five Stripes. His impressive season didn’t go under the radar, though, with European sides keeping an eye on the young star who has declared interest in a transfer ahead of the 2024 season.

Denis BouangaDenis Bouanga

Bouanga gave MLS backlines nightmares in 2023 / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

Denis Bouanga single-handedly won LAFC games during his Golden Boot winning 2023 season. The Gabon international found the back of the net 20 times while adding seven assists as LAFC came up just short in going back-to-back as MLS Cup champions.

Bouanga used his blistering pace and lethal finishing to propel the Black and Gold to wins during the regular season and the playoffs, and he’ll look to score even more goals in 2024 as LAFC aim to get back to their trophy-winning ways.

Cucho Hernandez willed Columbus to MLS Cup gloryCucho Hernandez willed Columbus to MLS Cup glory

Cucho Hernandez willed Columbus to MLS Cup glory / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

Cucho Hernandez helped put Columbus Crew back on the map in his first full season with the Eastern Conference side.

In 27 MLS starts, Hernandez registered 16 goals and 11 assists — as a striker — proving he was the ultimate center-forward in MLS in 2023. The league is full of strikers who can put away chances with ease, but not many have the playmaking capabilities that Hernandez possesses.

After winning their third MLS Cup, the Crew and Hernandez will aim to go back-to-back to win their third title in five seasons.

Lucho Acosta took home MVP honorsLucho Acosta took home MVP honors

Lucho Acosta took home MVP honors / Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Lets’s be honest, MLS MVP winner Lucho Acosta was going to be number one on this list despite FC Cincinnati’s shortcomings in the postseason.

Acosta has led the Orange and Blue to new heights in his third season at TQL Stadium, amassing 17 goals and 14 assists (most goal contributions in MLS) to help Cincinnati lift their first-ever trophy in the shape of the Supporters’ Shield. Acosta and Cincinnati will be back for more silverware in 2024 after their heartbreak defeat in the Eastern Conference final to Columbus Crew.

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