Top US Players Who Starred in the Turkish Süper Lig

Galatasaray supporters celebrate after the football club was crowned champion of Turkey's top division for a record 22nd time on May 19, 2019 in Istanbul. - Galatasaray sealed their 22nd Turkish league title with a dramatic 2-1 win over nearest challengers Istanbul Basaksehir in a capital-city derby marred by violence. (Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)

For one reason or another there has never been much give and take between MLS teams and those in the Turkish Süper Lig, with US teams missing out on players that other top flight domestic sides scout on a regular basis.

However, some US-bred players have used Turkey as a staging point at the start of their careers before moving to leagues in Europe, while others have come for one last payday in the baking Turkish sun.

Here we look at both types of US player, who called the Turkish Süper Lig home for at least a few fixtures before moving on to pastures new.

Soccer ball

It is something of a mystery as to why more Turkish players do not venture to the MLS and vice versa

Brad Friedel

Galatasaray were among the first in European football to notice the merits of this American keeper, who had previously only plied his trade at Brøndby in Denmark having failed with multiple attempts to play in England.

It was at the Istanbul-based giants that Friedel joined forces with Liverpool playing legend turned manager Graeme Souness, playing in the team at the time that Souness dared to plant a Galatasaray flag on the centre spot owned by fierce rivals Fenerbahce. Luckily for both men they escaped the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium unscathed.

This British contact meant that Friedel finally got to make his move to the English Premier League, where he went on to play for Aston Villa, Liverpool, Blackburn, and Tottenham.

Friedel now has a say in how MLS odds are shaped in his native US, as having managed the U19 national team for a time, he was then handed the head coach reins at the New England Revolution. American sports fans are already on top of the latest bets offered by pundits and sport experts that back Friedel to be as big a success as a manager as he was as a player. 

Maybe his time in the Turkish capital will convince the American to sign some young Turkish talent, with the MLS sadly lacking in it, with only Sercan Güvenışık currently appearing on MLS moneylines as part of the Miami Dade FC squad.

Friedel knows all about the intensity and noise of an Istanbul derby day

Jermaine Jones

Another American who went round the houses before arriving on Turkish shores was Jermaine Jones, who stayed at Beşiktaş for just half a season, before high tailing it back across the Atlantic to see out the rest of his career in Canada and the US.

He ended up making ten appearances in total for the Black Eagles, but after his six months stint the club decided not to take up their option of extending the defensive midfielder’s deal.

Freddy Adu

Sometimes the hype surrounding a young player can be so overwhelming that the man in question can never possibly hope to live up to it.

Such was the case with Freddy Adu, who at a tender age was already being fancifully compared to Pele.

Perhaps in the end Adu wanted none of the fame and fortune that would come with becoming such a figure in the game, with him instead using football as a gateway to travel the world, having played in a dizzying number of countries including Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Finland, Serbia, and of course Turkey.

His time in Turkey was spent at Çaykur Rizespor who took him on loan and managed to get a few man of the match performances out of him before he continued his nomadic lifestyle, which has most recently taken him to Sweden.

Tyler Boyd

The only American player operating in Turkish pro football at the moment is none other than Tyler Boyd, having made his mark with an electric loan spell at MKE Ankaragücü, which convinced Beşiktaş to sign the attacking player in 2019.

Unfortunately, there was some drama involving Boyd at the end of 2020 when his name was left off the foreign player roster submitted to the league by the club, meaning Boyd’s future is now uncertain. It remains to be seen if he will see out his four-year contract.