The 2013 Major League Soccer season is entering the home stretch with the playoff races in both conferences starting to heat up. As teams prepare to get themselves enough points to make the playoffs and put themselves in position for a solid postseason run, let's take a look at the 20 best players in the league right now.
It would be tough for 28-year-old Mike Magee to dream up a better season than he is having right now. After scoring six goals for the L.A. Galaxy in 10 games to open the year, he was traded to the Chicago Fire where he has not lost pace, scoring eight goals in 11 games.
To top it all off, he was named to the 2013 MLS All-Star team.
Marco Di Vaio has been on a tear all season with 13 goals so far in 2013, one goal away from the league lead.
He has helped lead the Montreal Impact, an expansion team only one year ago, to within one point of first place in the Eastern Conference.
He's not quite on pace to match his 15 goal and 12 assist campaign from a year ago, but with seven goals and five assists so far in 2013, Henry is still one of the best overall attackers in the league.
He still needs to show that he can get it done in the MLS playoffs, but right now he has the New York Red Bulls tied at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Matt Besler was MLS' Defender of the Year in 2012 and has continued to help lead Sporting KC in 2013. Sporting has one of the stingiest defenses in the league and is currently tied with the Red Bulls atop the Eastern Conference.
Besler is paired in the center of Sporting's defense with Aurelien Collin and the two make arguably the best center-back partnership in the league.
Omar Gonzalez has been one of the best defenders in MLS for years now, winning MLS Defender of the Year honors in 2011 and MLS Cup MVP in 2012.
He was recently rewarded with a Designated Player contract and continues to impress week after week, even contributing on the offensive end for the Galaxy as he did this weekend against Real Salt Lake.
Graham Zusi has missed some games recently with a thigh injury sustained in the All-Star Game and missed some time while on national team duty in June, but he is still one of the most complete midfielders in the league.
He has four goals and six assists thus far and has helped lead Sporting KC to the top of the Eastern Conference.
While there may still be a few naysayers out there holding his early-season sabbatical against him, Landon Donovan has been proving the doubters wrong all season. He currently has six goals and seven assists in just 15 games and had a hat trick vs. FC Dallas last week.
Robbie Keane has an amazing 10 goals and nine assists in just 14 games this season and scored a hat trick this weekend against RSL.
Paired up with Donovan, Keane spearheads the most feared duo in the league and has helped the Galaxy to back-to-back MLS Cups.
He's having a relatively tame season this year by his own lofty standards, but Chris Wondolowski is still the best poacher in MLS. His eight goals in 2013 have him tied for 11th in the league, but Wondo also missed three weeks while on national team duty in July. He was also the league's top scorer in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Nick Rimando is one of the few goalkeepers in MLS that can keep his team in games, even when they don't deserve to win.
His performance last fall against Seattle may be the best performance by a keeper in league history. He was a 2013 All-Star and is currently second in the league in goals against average among regular starting keepers.
Jack McInerney, the 21-year-old Philadelphia Union forward, is currently tied for fourth in the league in goals with 10. He was a 2013 MLS All-Star and has already claimed MLS' Player of the Month award twice this season.
Holding midfielders are usually the most neglected players when it comes to awards, but every coach knows that it often determines the success or failure of the team. Kyle Beckerman is the best in the league at the position, being able to both break up an opponent's attack and get the attack started for RSL once he does.
He has earned MLS All-Star honors the last five seasons in a row.
Brazilian forward Camilo had a bit of a slump in 2012, but has been red hot in 2013, scoring 14 goals. He is at the top of the MLS scoring charts, was a 2013 All-Star and was named MLS Player of the Month for July.
Some might bristle at the thought of putting an 18-year-old on the list, but Diego Fagundez is enjoying a breakout season in MLS right now. He has seven goals and four assists and has helped the New England Revolution crawl their way back from a poor start in 2013 to being one win away from a playoff spot.
Eddie Johnson has missed a lot of games for the Seattle Sounders this season, being called up for national team duty with the U.S. on four separate occasions in 2013. Two of those call-ups were for month-long camps.
Still, Johnson is one of the most feared strikers in the league and his combination of power and pace makes him a deadly goalscorer as Dallas was reminded of two weeks ago in the embedded clip.
The Portland Timbers have only been beaten three times all season, less than half the number of their nearest competitor. A big reason for that is the play of Donovan Ricketts in their goal. Ricketts has the lowest goals-against average in the league among starting goalkeepers and has won MLS' Save of the Week award an astonishing eight times in 2013.
DeAndre Yedlin is one of the most exciting prospects in MLS right now, having already started 18 games of his rookie campaign for the Seattle Sounders. Yedlin also missed several games while on duty with the U.S. U-20 team in the World Cup earlier this summer.
The 22-year-old left-back has started 22 games for the Rapids this year and contributed an amazing seven assists so far, tying him for seventh in the league.
Klute's rise to prominence has even gone so far as to have many suggest he should be part of the United States men's national team setup.
The Portland Timbers have become one of the best teams in MLS in 2013 and Diego Valeri has been a big part of that success. Valeri started 2013 with this gem of a goal vs. New York and has continued his fine play, logging 10 assists for the Timbers so far this season.
Will Johnson has been the captain of the Timbers' remarkable turnaround in 2013, chipping in six goals and three assists. He has been a key cog in coach Caleb Porter's makeover of the team and has won MLS Player of the Week honors twice in addition to being named to the 2013 All-Star team.
Narrowing down this list to just 20 names is a difficult task, so here are the names that were in the discussion, but didn't make the final group.
Apologies to Dax McCarty, Sebastien Le Toux, Tim Cahill, David Ferreira, Federico Higuain, Brad Davis, Will Bruin, Juan Agudelo and Deshorn Brown.
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