MLS Player Power Rankings: Morales, BWP Continue Fight for Top Spot

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 8, 2014

MLS Player Power Rankings: Morales, BWP Continue Fight for Top Spot

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    After 17 weeks of play, a few players have stood out the most in Major League Soccer.

    Two players, Javier Morales and Bradley Wright-Phillips, have delivered terrific performances week after week for Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls, respectively, which is why the two are locked in a battle for the top spot in the MLS Player Power Rankings.

    Continue reading on to see which star of 2014 was named No. 1 in the Week 17 edition of the list.

On the Way Out

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    Three forwards and a defender were sent packing from the list of the top 20 players in the league this week thanks to a few standout defenders and two star midfielders.

    Players Dropped Out of Rankings:

    • Fabian Espindola (D.C., Last Week's Ranking: 16)
    • Kevin Ellis (Sporting Kansas City, 17)
    • Jack McInerney (Montreal, 19)
    • Gyasi Zardes (LA, 20)

20. Fanendo Adi

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    Last Week's Ranking: 15

    Fanendo Adi was productive up front for the Timbers against the Galaxy Friday, but he could not break his scoreless streak, which now sits at three games.

    In the 2-2 draw at the StubHub Center, the 23-year-old Nigerian took three shots, one of which was on target, which puts his shot total in eight games at 24.

19. Carlos Bocanegra

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    Last Week's Ranking: Not Ranked

    Not many people may be watching the Chivas USA defense at the moment, but people outside of Los Angeles are beginning to pay attention to the back four of the Goats.

    Former United States captain Carlos Bocanegra has helped bring some stability to the back line that has held its opponents to three straight clean sheets.

18. Bobby Boswell

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    Last Week's Ranking: Not Ranked

    Another veteran defender is providing a massive impact on the East Coast, as Bobby Boswell has helped shore up the back four of the current first-place team in the Eastern Conference.

    Boswell and his D.C. United teammates are in the process of a very impressive turnaround in the nation's capital.

    The 31-year-old has started all 17 games for the Black and Red, and he has helped the team concede just four goals in the last five games.

17. Ethan Finlay

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    Last Week's Ranking: Not Ranked

    After a week out of the top 20, Ethan Finlay returns after a goal against Colorado on the road Friday.

    Finlay took advantage of a defensive error by Jared Watts to beat Clint Irwin for his fourth goal of the season in the 76th minute.

    Outside of the scoring department, Finlay has provided Gregg Berhalter's side with an explosive threat in midfield with Federico Higuain out injured.

16. Diego Fagundez

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    Last Week's Ranking: 14

    After taking six shots in each of his last two games, Diego Fagundez failed to take a single one in the Revolution's 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.

    The 19-year-old only lasted 63 minutes on the pitch in a game where New England had a problem with RSL earning two questionable penalties, both of which were converted.

15. Dillon Powers

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    Last Week's Ranking: 10

    Dillon Powers has received plenty of praise in this space in recent weeks, but this week he is deserving of some criticism.

    Powers' bad pass from the right side of midfield in the 76th minute was the first of two bad deliveries by Colorado players en route to Finlay's equalizer at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

14. Lee Nguyen

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    Last Week's Ranking: 13

    Lee Nguyen tried his best to help New England take down RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium, but his two shots and two key passes weren't enough.

    The star midfielder has failed to take a shot in just four of his 15 starts for the Revolution this season.

13. Pedro Morales

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    Last Week's Ranking: Not Ranked

    Pedro Morales has been terrific in an attacking midfield role for the Whitecaps all season, and he proved why he is worth the designated player tag once again Saturday.

    In the 1-0 win over Seattle, Morales was credited with an assist on Sebastian Fernandez's long-range strike, but his most impressive pass came in the 67th minute.

    On that pass, Morales squeezed the ball in between two defenders to Erik Hurtado, who could not convert on the chance.

12. Diego Valeri

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    Last Week's Ranking: 18

    Diego Valeri scored his first goal since May 11 in the 67th minute of Portland's draw with LA.

    The blast from the creative Argentinian designated player deflected off a defender and into the net for his second goal against the Galaxy in 2014.

    Valeri also completed 81 percent of his 47 passes in Portland's ninth draw of the season.

11. Federico Higuain

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    Last Week's Ranking: 6

    While his younger brother was busy scoring for Argentina at the World Cup, Federico Higuain was stuck on the bench recovering from a hamstring injury.

    Higuain will most likely not take to the pitch for the Crew until he is 100 percent, per Columbus manager Gregg Berhalter.

10. Obafemi Martins

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    Last Week's Ranking: 4

    Another star suffering from a bad hamstring at the moment is Obafemi Martins, who has scored eight goals for the Sounders. 

    Whether or not Martins could join Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin on the pitch against Portland Sunday has not been determined yet, as manager Sigi Schmid would not give a solid prognosis on his injury.

9. Robbie Keane

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    Last Week's Ranking: 9

    Robbie Keane's goal total remained at seven after Week 17, as the Galaxy benefited off a goal by Marcelo Sarvas and a Rauwshan McKenzie own goal.

    In the draw at the StubHub Center, the Irishman did take a total of three shots.

8. Osvaldo Alonso

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    Last Week's Ranking: 3

    Osvaldo Alonso was unable to play in Seattle's 1-0 loss to Vancouver Saturday because of a yellow-card suspension.

    Alonso picked up his fifth caution of the season in the Sounders' win over D.C. in Week 16.

7. Harry Shipp

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    Last Week's Ranking: 8

    In his first two games after the World Cup break, Harry Shipp helped the Fire earn two points against Toronto and Sporting KC.

    Shipp scored his sixth goal of the season in Chicago's 1-1 draw with Toronto, while he was held to just one shot Sunday at Sporting Park.

6. Jermain Defoe

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    Last Week's Ranking: 12

    Jermain Defoe was once again active in the Toronto FC attack, but he could only lead his side to one point in two matches in Week 17.

    Defoe notched his second assist of the season against Chicago on Jackson's 42nd-minute goal.

    In the loss to D.C., Defoe took three shots on target, and he made four key passes.

5. Dom Dwyer

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    Last Week's Ranking: 7

    Dom Dwyer anointed himself as the selfie king of soccer after his 33rd-minute strike Sunday against Chicago.

    Dwyer's 12th goal of the season was easily the most talked-about one, as the entire Internet erupted with the picture that earned him a yellow card.

4. Landon Donovan

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    Last Week's Ranking: 5

    Landon Donovan did not have to take a shot to make an impact in the Galaxy attack Friday.

    The 32-year-old midfielder made five key passes and provided Marcelo Sarvas with an assist in the 65th minute on the Galaxy's first goal.

3. Erick Torres

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    Last Week's Ranking: 11

    Right now there is no debating the fact that Erick Torres is the heavy favorite for the Most Valuable Player award.

    Torres has carried Chivas USA on his back to 20 points in 17 games with 12 goals, the latest of which came in stoppage time against Montreal.

    Torres' acrobatics in the box handed the Goats their fifth win of the season, and it moved them five points within a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

    In 17 games this season, Torres has been responsible for 71 percent of his team's goals.

2. Javier Morales

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    Last Week's Ranking: 1

    After two weeks atop the rankings, Javier Morales falls down to No. 2, but just barely.

    Morales had another strong showing in the Real Salt Lake attack with five key passes and four shots.

    His most important contribution of the 2-1 win over New England came in the 35th minute, when he scored from the spot.

1. Bradley Wright-Phillips

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    Last Week's Ranking: 2

    Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 13th and 14th goals in New York's 2-2 draw with Houston to regain the top spot in the MLS Player Power Rankings.

    Wright-Phillips found a small pocket of space in the 13th minute to fire home an Eric Alexander pass past Tally Hall.

    The Golden Boot leader was at it again in the 72nd minute, when he popped up to head home a cross from Ambroise Oyongo.

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    All statistics obtained from and