MLS Player Power Rankings: Higuain Fends off Challengers to Remain at Top
With most of the focus of the soccer world stuck on the superstars preparing for the World Cup, some of the stars of Major League Soccer turned in performances of note in the penultimate week of play before the World Cup break.
From World Cup snubs Landon Donovan, Obafemi Martins and Jermain Defoe to emerging stars of the league in Dillon Powers and Pedro Morales, plenty of players impressed on the pitch in Week 13.
Although plenty of quality was shown on the pitch, it was one player who didn't play this weekend that stayed at No. 1, thanks to his overall showing in 2014.
Continue reading on to see where the league's best rank in the MLS Player Power Rankings.
On the Way Out
Only four players fell out of the top 20 this week, which is the lowest total of the season.
Players Dropped out of Rankings:
Chris Tierney (New England; Week 12 Ranking: 14)
Andrew Farrell (New England; 16)
Gershon Koffie (Vancouver; 17)
Bradley Orr (Toronto; 18)
20. Maximiliano Urruti
Week 12 Ranking: Not Ranked
The Portland Timbers may be stuck in eighth place in the Western Conference, but they still have seen some quality performances from their forwards in 2014.
Maximiliano Urruti has been one of those players, as he has scored six goals in 13 games this season, four of which have come in his last three starts.
The latest strike by Urruti came in the third minute of his team's 4-3 loss to Vancouver.
19. Chad Marshall
Week 12 Ranking: Not Ranked
Seattle has received a ton of praise for its attack this season, but the play at the back has been solid for the Sounders as well.
Chad Marshall has strengthened the back line since his arrival from Columbus during the offseason, as he has missed just one game in 2014.
In the 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake, Marshall made 10 effective clearances and six interceptions.
18. Jermain Defoe
Week 12 Ranking: Not Ranked
Jermain Defoe bagged the second brace of his MLS career in Week 13, as Toronto sealed its first Trillium Cup since 2011.
The English forward scored from the spot in the 21st minute before he scored an 81st-minute equalizer that ignited the home crowd at BMO Field.
Defoe ended the month of May with three goals and an assist after an April plagued by injury.
17. Jon Busch
Week 12 Ranking: 20
Jon Busch has been nothing short of a goalkeeping machine for the San Jose Earthquakes over the last few games.
Busch, who has made four saves or more in his last six games, starred against FC Dallas with six saves, including one on a Fabian Castillo penalty before the half.
In 12 games this season, the 37-year-old has averaged 3.8 saves per game.
16. Erick Torres
Week 12 Ranking: 13
Erick Torres has not scored in his last three games, which is bad for fans of Chivas USA, if there are any, and fans of his robot goal celebration.
Against Philadelphia, Torres put just one of his three shots on target, as the Goats fell to 2-4-7, a record which makes them the worst team in the league.
15. Pedro Morales
Week 12 Ranking: Not Ranked
To say Pedro Morales had his way in the Vancouver attack against Portland would be an understatement.
Morales fired off 10 shots, four of which were on target, and he scored twice from the spot in the 4-3 victory.
Morales was also credited with two assists, which means he has played a part in 10 goals scored by the Whitecaps this season.
14. Diego Fagundez
Week 12 Ranking: 10
The scoring magic of Diego Fagundez ran out Saturday in New England's 2-0 road loss to Montreal.
The 19-year-old, who hasn't graduated from high school yet, made 70 touches and one key pass in the surprise result of the weekend.
13. Patrick Mullins
Week 12 Ranking: 9
In the loss to Montreal, Patrick Mullins was held scoreless for the first time in a game that he played 90 minutes in.
In his last four starts, Mullins scored a goal in each game to prove to the league that he can translate his skills from college to the professional ranks.
12. Dillon Powers
Week 12 Ranking: 19
Dillon Powers' case to make the 2014 All-Star Game against Bayern Munich got stronger after he delivered two assists in Colorado's 3-0 win over Houston.
Powers also had three key passes and a pass accuracy of 86 percent, as the Rapids continued to prove their might at home, where they have earned 13 of their 21 points.
11. Harry Shipp
Week 12 Ranking: 8
Since his three-goal outburst against New York on May 10, Harry Shipp has not recorded a goal or an assist.
Despite that drought, Shipp had been productive in attacking for Chicago, until Sunday, when he failed to fire a single shot for the first time since April 12.
In the 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy, Shipp made just 38 touches and completed 86 percent of his passes.
10. Osvaldo Alonso
Week 12 Ranking: 12
Osvaldo Alonso was able to control the tempo of the match against Real Salt Lake, which came as a bit of a surprise given the attacking might of the Claret and Cobalt.
In the midfield, Alonso made three tackles, two effective clearances, one interception and one shot.
9. Robbie Keane
Week 12 Ranking: 4
There wasn't much to talk about regarding Robbie Keane's play on the pitch against Chicago, but his bad showing was easily erased from our minds, thanks to his postgame comments (NSFW).
Based off of his comments, it's clear that Keane never experienced 90 degree heat during his time in the English Premier League, and despite his four years playing during the American summer, he still isn't used to it.
For those of you wondering how Keane cooled off Sunday night, he took in Game 7 of the Chicago Blackhawks-Los Angeles Kings game, where he presumably enjoyed the temperature more.
8. Fabian Espindola
Week 12 Ranking: 15
At least one offseason acquisition at the forward position is rewarding D.C. United with goals.
Fabian Espindola scored his seventh goal of the season on a floating attempted cross in the 28th minute against Sporting Kansas City.
The strike extended Espindola's scoring streak to three games, which is something Eddie Johnson is nowhere close to reaching at this moment.
7. Lee Nguyen
Week 12 Ranking: 11
In a week where his team had a bad game, Lee Nguyen played a solid 90 minutes for the New England Revolution.
Nguyen touched the ball on 87 occasions, recorded three key passes and took three shots in the loss at Stade Saputo to the Montreal Impact.
6. Dom Dwyer
Week 12 Ranking: 3
Dom Dwyer came up empty in the goal department in two games this week, as Sporting Kansas City earned just one point against New York and D.C.
In the pair of matches, Dwyer only put two shots on target, both of which came in the 1-0 loss to D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
5. Obafemi Martins
Week 12 Ranking: 7
Obafemi Martins was a lively part of the Seattle attack in the 4-0 blowout win over Real Salt Lake.
Before scoring in the 90th minute, Martins made two key passes, won a pair of aerial duels and completed 76 percent of his 29 passes.
With his sixth goal of the season, Martins played a part in his 12th goal in 2014, which is a number that only he and Espindola have recorded.
4. Landon Donovan
Week 12 Ranking: 5
It turns out this Landon Donovan guy can play the forward position pretty well when motivated.
The spurned United States international scored his third goal in two games by putting home a Robbie Rogers pass in the 74th minute against Chicago.
Donovan did not let the heat get to him, like Keane, as he was active with 50 touches, a total that was 29 more than Keane.
3. Bradley Wright-Phillips
Week 12 Ranking: 6
The lead in the Golden Boot race was returned to the feet of Bradley Wright-Phillips Tuesday when he struck in the 50th minute against Sporting KC.
In the 1-1 draw at Sporting Park, Wright-Phillips won two aerial duels and took two shots against a depleted Sporting defense.
2. Javier Morales
Week 12 Ranking: 2
Despite seeing his team lose 4-0, Javier Morales still had a strong game in the midfield for the previously unbeaten side.
Morales made a game-high 100 touches, completed 85 percent of his 79 passes and made three key passes in the loss.
In 12 games in 2014, Morales has averaged 3.7 key passes and 63.6 passes per game.
1. Federico Higuain
Week 12 Ranking: 1
Federico Higuain did not make an impact on the Crew's match with Toronto due to a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
With no one else in the top six delivering an eye-popping performance, the player who has six goals and five assists in 12 games remained at the top for a second straight week.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.