For the first 25 years of its history, MLS was known as a buying league, purchasing players beyond their prime in order to sell tickets and grow a reputation in world football. In recent years, however, the league is starting to offload many more players abroad as the overall level of US football has risen dramatically.
While many of the biggest transfers in MLS history are still acquisitions by US clubs, the new trend around the league will soon see these records overtaken by young talent testing their skill against bigger competition around the world. The result? More clubs will look to the United States for potential future stars, growing the league and the USMNT player pool simultaneously.
Here's a look at the 7 largest outgoing transfers in MLS history and how each move has played out.
7. Maurice Edu - £3.6m
Maurice Edu was drafted by Toronto FC following a successful college career at the University of Maryland. After establishing himself as a versatile midfielder with strong defensive capabilities, Rangers decided to shell out the cash for the then 21-year-old.
Edu went on to have a very successful career in Scotland, winning three league titles and two Scottish Cup trophies. In total the American midfielder made 122 appearances for Rangers, scoring 12 goals and registering 11 assists.
6. Jack Harrison - £3.6m
Jack Harrison began his career with two clubs in two days, getting drafted by the Chicago Fire and traded to NYCFC the next day. Harrison quickly became a star in the MLS, scoring four goals and providing seven assists in his first campaign. After adding another ten goals and three assists in 2017, NYCFC's partner club Manchester City took a chance on the youngster.
Since the switch across the pond, Harrison has been loaned out to Middlesborough and Leeds United in the previous two seasons and has established himself as one of the main men at Elland Road in 2019.
5. Matt Miazga - £4.14m
After coming through the New York Red Bulls academy, Miazga made the move to the first team at just 18 years of age but didn't make an immediate impact on the team. It wasn't until 2015 that the youngster would shine as one of the league's best defenders, after convincingly shutting down Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa respectively.
Miazga had previously voiced his desire to play in Europe, so when Chelsea came knocking in the winter of 2016 he jumped at the opportunity. Since the move to England, Miazga has been loaned out on three separate occasions, only establishing himself in the Netherlands with Vitesse.
4. Jozy Altidore - £5.85m
Jozy Altidore is a household name for every US football fan around the country. Back in 2008, however, Altidore was just an 18-year-old making himself known with the NY Red Bulls. Following a successful first season in MLS, Altidore was scouted by a few different clubs across Europe before eventually moving to Villarreal.
Altidore's move to Spain held the record of MLS' highest export until 2019 when Alphonso Davies took over the top spot. Altidore went onto play in England, Turkey and the Netherlands before returning to MLS in 2015 as part of the deal that sent Jermain Defoe back to his native country.
3. Zack Steffen - £7.2m
American goalkeepers have been moving to Europe for years now, but Stephen's move to Manchester City confused many MLS supporters. Stephen has been one of the best goalkeepers in the league for several years now and at only 24 years of age still has his best years ahead of him. So why would he move to a club with an established top-choice goalkeeper?
The answer is simple: Pep Guardiola. Stephen saw an opportunity to work with arguably the best manager in the world and learn under Ederson. The knowledge that Stephen can accrue in Manchester will be invaluable for the USMNT going forward.
2. Alphonso Davies - £9.0m
18-year-old Davies is the face of the MLS' new direction of offloading young talent. The youngster has already played for Bayern Munich's first team on five occasions this season and even bagged his first goal against Mainz in the Bavarians 6-0 thrashing in mid-March.
The Canadian international can play in several different positions and will have a great opportunity to learn under fellow wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery before they depart the Allianz Arena at the end of the season.
1. Miguel Almiron - £21.6m
Miguel Almiron has had two significant transfers in MLS, but it is his recent departure that tops the list of most expensive exports in MLS history. Almiron is a case that every MLS club would be lucky to follow. Already a fan favourite in Newcastle, Almiron didn't shy away from the pressure of the Premier League and has thrived so far.
The transfer fee ended up being more than double the previous record for an MLS move and it is easy to see why. Almiron's instant success has drawn other teams around Europe to take a hard look at the players coming out of the United States' top division.