MLS Player Power Rankings: Morales Remains on Top After World Cup Break

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

MLS Player Power Rankings: Morales Remains on Top After World Cup Break

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Major League Soccer came back from the two-week World Cup break with 10 games and a few standout performances. 

    With some of the league's stars still away in Brazil, Week 15 did lack a bit of a punch in regard to the big names, but there were still a few great showings. 

    Some of the league's best also did not play because of suspensions, which was taken into mind when putting together the latest edition of the MLS Player Power Rankings.

    Continue reading on to see who snagged the top spot in this week's list.

On the Way Out

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    Only three players fell out of the top 20 this week mainly due to the strong performances put in by others over the last few weeks.

    Players Dropped Out of the Rankings:

    • Pedro Morales (Vancouver, Week 14 Ranking: 18)
    • Erik Hurtado (Vancouver, 19)
    • Ethan Finlay (Columbus, 20)

20. Gyasi Zardes

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    Week 14 Ranking: Not Ranked 

    This may be the summer that Gyasi Zardes lives up to his potential and hands the Galaxy another threat up front. 

    Zardes scored the lone goal in L.A.'s 1-0 win over San Jose in the California Clasico, a strike that was his third of the season. 

    Ever since he was handed a start on May 21 against FC Dallas, Zardes has scored three times, and he has recorded at least two shots in each game.

19. Jack McInerney

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    Week 14 Ranking: Not Ranked 

    It may have taken Jack McInerney a few months and a change of scenery to find his scoring form, but now he is on fire for the Impact with four goals in his last three games. 

    The former Philadelphia Union forward bagged a brace for Montreal in the team's 3-0 win over Houston Sunday to raise his season tally to six. 

    The second of the two strikes was a wonder goal that defied the laws of physics.

18. Diego Valeri

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    Week 14 Ranking: 17 

    Diego Valeri took charge of the Portland attack Friday against Sporting Kansas City, but his efforts fell short in the 1-0 loss at Providence Park. 

    Valeri made 88 touches, had four key passes and fired away three shots in an attempt to get the Timbers out of their slump at home.

17. Kevin Ellis

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    Week 14 Ranking: Not Ranked

    One of the reasons why Valeri and his teammates were shut down Friday night was the play of Kevin Ellis at center back for Sporting. 

    Over the last five games, the 23-year-old natural right back has helped keep together the makeshift back four for the defending MLS Cup champions. 

    In his last two starts, Ellis has helped his side record back-to-back clean sheets against Houston and Portland.

16. Fabian Espindola

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    Week 14 Ranking: 11

    After notching three assists in his final game before the World Cup break, Fabian Espindola did not play against Seattle Saturday because of a two-game suspension. 

    The proud owner of seven goals and eight assists will also miss the trip to BMO Field Saturday.

15. Fanendo Adi

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    Week 14 Ranking: 13

    For the second consecutive game, Fanendo Adi was kept off the scoresheet by an opposing defense.

    The newly minted designated player did take four shots in the loss to Sporting, but none of them was on target.

14. Diego Fagundez

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    Week 14 Ranking: 10 

    Diego Fagundez and his New England teammates were caught off guard at home Saturday by a resurgent Philadelphia side in their 3-1 loss. 

    The 19-year-old was active in attack with 48 touches and six shots, but just one of the shots went on target.

13. Lee Nguyen

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    Week 14 Ranking: 7

    Lee Nguyen was his normal consistent self in midfield for New England, but he could not create many major chances at Gillette Stadium.

    Despite just taking one shot in 80 minutes on the pitch, Nguyen put up his normal numbers on the ball with 70 touches and a pass accuracy of 88 percent.

12. Jermain Defoe

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    Week 14 Ranking: 16

    Jermain Defoe once again proved to be a force in the Toronto attack during the Reds' 2-2 draw on the road at Red Bull Arena. 

    The English forward scored in the 55th minute of the road game before he earned a free-kick 15 minutes later that set up the second Toronto goal. 

    Defoe, who has scored four goals in his last three games, was supposed to take the free-kick, but Gilberto insisted, and he delivered a strong strike for the second goal.

11. Erick Torres

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    Week 14 Ranking: 15

    Erick Torres found his way into the double-digit mark in the scoring department with a terrific volley in the 35th minute against Real Salt Lake. 

    The goal extended his scoring streak to two games, and he was able to stay two goals behind Bradley Wright-Phillips in the Golden Boot race.

10. Dillon Powers

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    Week 14 Ranking: 14

    In his 12th start of the season, Dillon Powers once again impressed in the middle of the pitch for the Rapids. 

    Powers scored the first of his side's two goals in the 20th minute thanks to a clever turn in the box before his shot found the left side of the net. 

    The second-year player also made three key passes, and he completed 80 percent of his passes in the 2-0 win over Vancouver.

9. Robbie Keane

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    Week 14 Ranking: 12

    Robbie Keane may not have found the back of the net for the eighth time this season, but he did fire four shots on the San Jose goal in the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium. 

    Keane was also more active than usual with 58 touches, which was 17 more than Zardes, who was his forward partner in the 1-0 Galaxy victory.

8. Harry Shipp

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    Week 14 Ranking: 8

    Harry Shipp and the Chicago Fire were handed an extra week of rest following the World Cup break in Week 15. 

    The rookie and his teammates will now play two games in four days starting Wednesday at home against Toronto.

7. Dom Dwyer

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    Week 14 Ranking: 5

    Dom Dwyer was not able to keep pace with Wright-Phillips in the Golden Boot race, but he was active in other aspects of his game against Portland. 

    Dwyer won three aerial duels and took three shots in Sporting's win at Providence Park.

6. Federico Higuain

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    Week 14 Ranking: 

    Federico Higuain was only on the pitch at Crew Stadium for 22 minutes of the Crew's 0-0 draw with FC Dallas. 

    Since he did not record a goal or an assist in Sunday's scoreless affair, Higuain has now failed to contribute to the Columbus cause since May 24.

5. Landon Donovan

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Week 14 Ranking: 

    Landon Donovan was let out of his television studio in Los Angeles to play in the Galaxy's match against San Jose. 

    The scorer of three goals in his last four games did take three shots against the Earthquakes, but none of them was on target. 

    He also had a key pass and 63 touches in his team's fifth victory of the season.

4. Obafemi Martins

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    Week 14 Ranking: 

    Obafemi Martins did not feature in Seattle's win over D.C. Saturday at RFK Stadium because of his red card against Chicago on June 7.

    Martins will enter the Cascadia Cup showdown against Vancouver Saturday with fresh legs and a hunger to score his ninth goal of the season.

3. Osvaldo Alonso

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    Week 14 Ranking: 9

    Osvaldo Alonso continued his above-average season in midfield in the Sounders' 1-0 win over D.C.

    Alonso made a team-high 77 touches, completed 89 percent of 55 passes and made six tackles at RFK Stadium. 

    In 16 appearances this season for the best team in the league, Alonso has completed 90.2 percent of his 1,046 passes.

2. Bradley Wright-Phillips

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    Week 14 Ranking: 6

    The league's leading scorer has Tim Cahill to thank for his 12th goal of the season, which once again put him atop the Golden Boot standings by himself. 

    Wright-Phillips also won six aerial duels, and he took a total of five shots in the 2-2 draw.

1. Javier Morales

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    Week 14 Ranking: 

    Javier Morales and Real Salt Lake were at a disadvantage for most of Saturday's match at Chivas USA due to an early red card earned by Luke Mulholland.

    For the 10-man Claret and Cobalt, Morales made four key passes, had 80 touches and completed 83 percent of his 63 passes to continue his reign of consistency in 2014. 

    In his 15 appearances for RSL, Morales has averaged 3.6 key passes and 1.5 shots per game. 

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    All statistics obtained from and