MLS Player Power Rankings: Diaz, Higuain Surge Up Chart After Week 4

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2014

MLS Player Power Rankings: Diaz, Higuain Surge Up Chart After Week 4

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Only one word could accurately describe the action across Major League Soccer in Week 4, and that word is dramatic. 

    Keeping with the theme from the weekend, we saw a dramatic shift in the latest ranking of the 20 best players in the league. 

    Just four players who sat in the top 10 after Week 3 remained in the top half of the rankings through the final week of the first month of the 2014 campaign. 

    Read on to see who took the throne away from Jermain Defoe on top of the latest MLS player power rankings.

On the Way Out

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    The high amount of fluctuation in the makeup of this week's list means that seven players were ousted from the top 20.

     

    Dropped out of Rankings: 

    Joao Plata (Real Salt Lake; Week 3 Ranking: 4)

    Bernardo Anor (Columbus; 7)

    Victor Bernardez (San Jose; 11)

    Boniek Garcia (Houston; 12)

    Michael Bradley (Toronto; 13)

    Doniel Henry (Toronto; 19)

    Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus; 20)

20. Aaron Wheeler

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    Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

    Week 3 Ranking: not ranked

    Aaron Wheeler was handed a tough task during the offseason as he attempted to convert from a forward to a center-back.

    So far, the transformation has reaped plenty of benefits for Wheeler and the Philadelphia Union.

    Wheeler, who has started the last two games because of an injury to Austin Berry, gained plenty of praise for his containment of the Montreal attack on Saturday by holding the Impact to just one shot on target.

19. Graham Zusi

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: not ranked 

    With the Wednesday friendly against Mexico staring him in the face, Graham Zusi delivered his best performance of the young season in Sporting's 3-2 win over Colorado.

    Zusi scored his first goal of the season and contributed two assists to the victory that saw Dom Dwyer score a 92nd-minute game-winning goal.

    Zusi is expected to be one of the crucial parts of the United States' men's national team on Wednesday, and in Brazil; it is nice to see him in form once again for the defending MLS Cup champions.

18. Gilberto

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 8

    Despite failing to score a goal in his second career league match, Gilberto was an active force in the Toronto attack in the 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake.

    The Brazilian, who combined well with Defoe in Week 3 against D.C., provided his teammates with two key passes, and he fired in five shots, but only one was on target. 

    Unlike last week, the designated player was able to play the entire 90 minutes of the match, which is something he will be asked to do for much of the season, as the goalscoring pressure remains on his and Defoe's shoulders.

17. Alvaro Saborio

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: not ranked 

    With Plata ruled out for three weeks because of a hamstring injury, Alvaro Saborio was the main man in charge of the Real Salt Lake attack against Toronto.

    The Costa Rican international responded with a goal in each half to power the Claret and Cobalt to a 3-0 victory. 

    The brace recorded by Saborio added to the one goal he netted against L.A. last week, a goal that was assisted by Plata.

16. Jair Benitez

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 17

    The FC Dallas left-back continued his terrific start to the season in the 2-1 win over Portland that finished with 10 men on each side. 

    Jair Benitez made three key tackles and four interceptions on defense against a Timbers attack that is still trying to get over the goalscoring slump they are presently in. 

    Benitez also recorded the third-most touches on his team, with 82, and delivered three key passes.

15. Vicente Sanchez

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    Week 3 Ranking: not ranked

    Vicente Sanchez just can't miss from the penalty spot, and he just can't stop making trips to the lone spot on the field that he has scored his four goals from this season. 

    Sanchez converted two penalties for Colorado in the loss to Sporting to become the joint top scorer in the league.

    In three games, Sanchez has fired four shots on goal, but he has found the magic touch from the spot for a team that has earned a league-high five penalties in 2014.

14. Javier Morales

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: not ranked

    Javier Morales is not the last Real Salt Lake player to appear in this week's list nor is he the last player with the surname "Morales" to show up in the top 20. 

    We won't give you any spoilers on who's upcoming in the list, but we will tell you about Javier's play against Toronto, which was quite spectacular. 

    Morales carved up the Toronto midfield and made Michael Bradley look a bit average at some points during the victory at Rio Tinto Stadium.

    The 34-year-old, who recorded 10 assists and eight goals in 2013, finally found himself on the scoresheet with an assist on Saborio's 55th-minute strike.

13. Maurice Edu

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    Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

    Week 3 Ranking: 10

    Maurice Edu remained one of the more consistent figures in the Philadelphia midfield, which has flashed some inconsistencies in spurts this season. 

    Edu and his defensive midfield partner, Brian Carroll, provided the Union attack with a solid amount of passes to set up offensive moves, but only one goal came from those chances.

    The focus for Edu will now shift to the international stage as he returns to the United States squad on Wednesday for the clash against Mexico.

12. Mauro Rosales

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 6

    The league leader in assists may not have added to his total of three against New York on Sunday, but Mauro Rosales still put up some respectable numbers. 

    Rosales had the best pass accuracy of any Chivas USA player, at 89 percent, and he also put in two key passes on the offensive end. 

    While he may not have contributed to the lone goal scored by the Goats in Week 4, you can tell that Rosales' presence is having a positive effect on the young players who line up alongside him in the midfield.

11. Shea Salinas

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 

    In a losing effort on Saturday night, Shea Salinas once again pulled the strings of the Earthquakes' attack. 

    Salinas strung together seven key passes, but San Jose was only able to muster a single goal against a New England side that pulled off a surprise win at the death. 

    There is no doubt that Salinas is benefiting from the height on the San Jose roster, as he delivered 15 crosses in an attempt to find the likes of Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart in the box.

10. Will Bruin

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 2

    The bye week in Week 3 killed all the momentum Will Bruin gained from the first two games at home in which he scored three goals. 

    Bruin barely had an impact in the Houston offense as his strike partner, Giles Barnes, had the most attempts on goal of any Dynamo player. 

    If you want to, you can blame the poor performance turned in by Bruin on the turf at BC Place because the surface is something that most players aren't used to playing on.

9. Nick Rimando

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 18

    The only goalkeeper to maintain a clean sheet in Week 4 was Nick Rimando.

    A week after failing to make a single save against L.A., Rimando made three saves against Toronto to hand Real Salt Lake its second win of the season.

    The clean sheet was the second of the season for Rimando, who is still the league leader in saves with 19.

8. Harrison Shipp

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    Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: not ranked

    Ladies and gentlemen, meet the early front-runner for the 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year award. 

    Harrison Shipp, a 22-year-old Notre Dame product, has come alive on the right wing for Chicago in the last two matches by delivering an assist in each game. 

    The 2013 Hermann Trophy finalist produced 12 goals and 10 assists in his senior season for the Fighting Irish, which means the best play from the midfielder may still be on its way in 2014.

7. Jose Goncalves

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 16 

    There's no need to tell the Earthquakes how imposing of a defensive presence Jose Goncalves is since they experienced it in person at Buck Shaw Stadium. 

    Goncalves won four aerial duels against one of the tallest teams in the league, and he also made a whopping 17 effective clearances. 

    Needless to say, the Revolution would not have stood a chance of winning the match in the 93rd minute had Goncalves not turned in a stunning performance at center-back.

6. Jermain Defoe

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    Week 3 Ranking: 1

    After creating a massive amount of excitement around himself and his teammates over the last two weeks, Defoe failed to turn in a third great showing up front for Toronto. 

    Defoe touched the ball just 15 times in 62 minutes on the pitch before he was replaced by Dwayne De Rosario. 

    The 31-year-old is still tied with four other players for second in the Golden Boot race with three goals, but he won't climb that list if he turns in a flat performance in Columbus on Saturday.

5. Pedro Morales

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

    Week 3 Ranking: not ranked 

    Pedro Morales earned his second start of 2014 against Houston, and he delivered in a major way for the Whitecaps. 

    Despite not scoring in the 2-1 victory, the midfielder was the most active player in the Vancouver front line with two shots on target and two key passes to go along with a pass accuracy of 80 percent. 

    The Chilean has produced plenty of quality plays off the bench in two games this season, but he proved to manager Carl Robinson on Saturday that he belongs in the starting 11 for every match in the future.

4. Osvaldo Alonso

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 9

    Osvaldo Alonso continued to set a high standard of play in the center of the pitch with his play against Columbus. 

    Alonso recorded a 90 percent pass accuracy on his team-high 51 passes, and he was the most active Seattle player on the ball with 72 touches. 

    The defensive midfielder has been the best player on the field for the Sounders all season long, and the scary thing is, his play has progressed in each of the four games Seattle has played in 2014.

3. Erick Torres

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 5

    Erick Torres moved to the top of the Golden Boot race with his 25th-minute penalty against New York in a game that Chivas USA should have earned all three points. 

    In the 1-1 draw, Torres fired in a single shot on goal, which moved his total up to six, which is good enough for second-best in the league. 

    Throughout the match, Torres continued his strong early-season form by causing plenty of trouble to the back four of the Red Bulls.

2. Mauro Diaz

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 14

    We were foolish not to have Mauro Diaz this high on the list in past weeks. 

    That has all changed after the FC Dallas star brought tons of quality to the Toyota Stadium pitch for the third time this season. 

    Diaz's dynamic playmaking abilities have produced numerous goalscoring chances for his teammates as well as himself. 

    The Argentinian's brilliance was on display all night against Portland, and he capped it off with a game-winning goal in the 84th minute.

1. Federico Higuain

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Ranking: 15

    Federico Higuain is the best player on the team with the best record in the league after a full month of play.

    In the 2-1 win by Columbus on Saturday night in Seattle, Higuain scored from the spot in the 59th minute before he provided the game-winning assist on Justin Meram's 94th-minute goal. 

    Higuain also sent in four shots, two of which were on target, and delivered four key passes for the only team left without a blemish on its record this season. 

     

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    All statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com and WhoScored.com.