Denis Bouanga
MLS: African players who shine in the United States

Major League Soccer could get a boost with the potential arrival of Lionel Messi. In the meantime, the North American league remains as attractive as ever. African players have made it a favourite destination. Focus on these Africans who are helping to raise the profile of MLS.

Europe may be the destination that most African players dream of, but they don't hesitate to explore other horizons either. Such is the case in Major League Soccer (MLS), where many of them have been shining for several years now. Let's take a look at some of these players, who are enjoying some fine seasons in the American elite league.

Dennis Bouanga, Los Angeles FC
He's certainly the most talked-about African player in MLS at the moment. Although he got off to a rocky start in his first season, Denis Bouanga has bounced back perfectly this year. He has 17 goals and 4 assists in 22 games in all competitions. He is Los Angeles FC's lethal weapon. "I'm simply living the American dream. It only happens once in a lifetime, I think, and I'm lucky enough to be here in Los Angeles, so I'm going to make the most of it (...) They want me to be MVP of the season. That's nice, that's my goal and thanks to the fans and everyone else, I can achieve it," the Gabon international told Canal + last May.

In the Los Angeles squad, he is the player who should not be missed. Last March, he had to leave the Gabonese national team to play an important match for his club. He missed the second leg against Sudan, and helped the US team to victory. His recent performances have not gone unnoticed. Denis Bouanga, who played for Saint-Étienne, could well return to Europe. He certainly dreams of it. "I miss Europe. It's hard to be away from my family. I think I'm still capable of playing in a European team and showing my strength," he told RMC recently. In the meantime, he is keeping Los Angeles FC happy.

Jonathan Mensah, San José Earthquakes
Ghana international Jonathan Mensah is one of the longest-serving players in MLS. Having arrived in Columbus in 2017, the Black Star has always been a strong part of the team. He has played in every league match for his team almost every season. He played a big part in his team's title triumph in 2020, finishing as one of the season's best players and 3rd best defender. In 2022, his final season, he finished with 30 games to his name, scoring 2 goals and providing one assist. Captain of his club, he left last February to join San José Earthquakes. Since then, he has played 10 games for his new club.

Kei Kamara, Chicago Fire

The Sierra Leone striker has been playing in MLS since 2006 and is one of the league's African legends. Kei Kamara (38) has played for 10 clubs in his American career. Currently with Chicago Fire, the Sierra Leonean has played nearly 400 games in MLS, scoring almost 150 goals. In August 2021, he will write his name in the history books of the North American league by becoming the 3rd all-time top scorer in MLS, with 135 goals scored in 384 appearances. It feels good," said Kamara after the match. I'm happy today because, really, it was a full stadium and to score in front of those fans was great. To witness that moment was incredible. That's why I play, so it's good," he said after breaking Jeff Cunningham's record. This season with Chicago Fire, he continues to shine. He has scored 4 goals and provided an assist in 14 games.

Kwadwo Opoku, Los Angeles FC
Teammate of Denis Bouanga, Kwadwo Opoku (21) was one of the revelations of last season's MLS campaign. A twirling winger with exceptional dribbling ability, the young Ghanaian is a real handful for his opponents. In his first full season in the American top flight, he scored eight goals and dished out three assists in the league. This season, he has 2 goals and an assist to his name. According to Fussball Transfer, Girondins de Bordeaux and OGC Nice have already enquired about the Black Star's situation. Other European clubs are also interested. These include Celtic Glasgow, Rangers and Stuttgart. He is expected to cost between €3 and €5 million.

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