MLS Player Power Rankings: Streaky Scorers Continue Rise Up List
As the stretch run of play in Major League Soccer begins, there are plenty of players seizing their opportunities in front of goal.
Although the lead of Golden Boot leader Bradley Wright-Phillips has yet to be threatened, players like Gyasi Zardes, Diego Valeri, Joao Plata and Sebastien Le Toux are all climbing up the list of top scorers in rapid fashion.
Some of those players are also making their mark on the MLS Player Power Rankings, as the top 10 once again saw a bit of a shake-up.
Continue reading on to see who the top-20 players in the league are after 22 weeks of play.
On the Way out
Three forwards fell out of the top 20 this week due to an injury, and a few forwards who are in better form.
Players Dropped out of Rankings:
Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC; Previous Ranking: 12)
Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas; 19)
Deshorn Brown (Colorado; 20)
20. Nat Borchers
Previous Ranking: 17
Nat Borchers helped Real Salt Lake earn its second straight clean sheet against D.C. United at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The bearded center-back made a team-high six effective clearances on a night where Nick Rimando became the all-time league leader in the shutout department.
In 22 games this season, Borchers has averaged 6.4 effective clearances per game.
19. Chad Marshall
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
After the Seattle defense was lost without Chad Marshall in the lineup, the 29-year-old returned to help hold Houston to a clean sheet Sunday night.
Marshall, who could not participate in the MLS All-Star Game because of an injury, saw his teammates concede four goals in the two games he missed.
In the 2-0 victory, the Sounders kept the Dynamo to just three shots on goal.
18. Joao Plata
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Believe it or not, Joao Plata scored with his head in RSL's big win over D.C. United.
The little Ecuadorian scored his 10th goal of the season on a header that connected with a cross from Luke Mulholland.
Plata has now scored in four of his last six games.
17. Sebastien Le Toux
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Sebastien Le Toux also climbed into double digits in the scoring column this weekend, but he did so with a brace against Montreal.
The Frenchman, who is flying under the radar of almost everyone at the moment, capitalized on two defensive mistakes to hand the Union a 2-1 win at home.
Since the World Cup break ended, Le Toux has scored six goals for a team that is suddenly a serious contender for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
16. Robbie Rogers
Previous Ranking: 18
In the exciting 2-2 draw played between LA and San Jose, Robbie Rogers continued his solid form at left-back for the Galaxy.
Rogers made five effective clearances, two tackles and had 103 touches, which was a game-high.
15. Graham Zusi
Previous Ranking: 16
One of the better performances turned in by a losing player in Week 22 came from Graham Zusi, who saw his Sporting Kansas City side fall 2-0 in Vancouver.
Zusi, who played in the MLS All-Star Game Wednesday night, made six key passes in an attempt to set up quality chances for his teammates at BC Place.
14. Erick Torres
Previous Ranking: 8
For the third consecutive week, Erick Torres failed to take a single shot on goal in a Chivas USA loss.
The more concerning stat that correlates to the four-game skid by the Goats is that they have not scored a goal in their last 276 minutes of play.
13. Clint Dempsey
Previous Ranking: 15
In the game itself, Dempsey completed 90 percent of his 39 passes, and took three shots on the turf that resembled crop circles more than a playing surface.
12. Osvaldo Alonso
Previous Ranking: 14
One of Pep Guardiola's favorite MLS players was once again strong in the middle of the park for Seattle.
Osvaldo Alonso made a team-high 77 touches against Houston, while completing 90 percent of his passes and seven of his eight attempted long balls.
Alonso is the only player in the league with a pass success rate over 90 percent, and he is second in the league in passes per game behind Columbus' Wil Trapp.
11. Landon Donovan
Previous Ranking: 11
The Landon Donovan retirement tour did not begin in spectacular fashion Friday night, as the best player in league history did not contribute to either of the two Galaxy goals.
10. Thierry Henry
Previous Ranking: 5
The star of the first half of the MLS All-Star Game failed to have an impact on the result of New York's 1-0 loss to Chicago.
With a few players rising up the assist leaderboard, Henry will have to put one up sooner rather than later to keep his lead in that category.
9. Chris Wondolowski
Previous Ranking: 13
It's as if the miss in Brazil has motivated Chris Wondolowski to reignite his form from 2012.
Wondolowski recorded yet another goal and assist for the Earthquakes Friday night in the California Clasico against LA.
Since returning from the World Cup, Wondolowski has three goals and three assists for a San Jose side that has made the Western Conference playoff race even more crowded than it already was.
8. Dom Dwyer
Previous Ranking: 4
For the fifth straight week, Dom Dwyer failed to score his 15th goal of the season.
Dwyer, who has been stuck on 14 goals since his brace on July 12, has had a few rough games during the five-game stretch.
In three of those five matches, including Sunday's loss in Vancouver, Dwyer has failed to put a single shot on target.
7. Gyasi Zardes
Previous Ranking: 10
One player who can't stop scoring at the moment is Gyasi Zardes, who provided the Galaxy with his ninth goal of the season in the 29th minute against San Jose.
Zardes has now scored in three straight games, and in seven of his last nine contests, for a Galaxy team that could become a big player in the Supporters' Shield race.
6. Diego Valeri
Previous Ranking: 9
Diego Valeri is single-handedly carrying the Portland Timbers back into the tight playoff race in the West.
Although the goal wasn't his best of the year, Valeri did net his seventh strike of the season on a nice bit of skill outside the box.
Valeri was responsible for four key passes and two shots on target in the 2-0 win by the Timbers at Providence Park.
5. Federico Higuain
Previous Ranking: 6
As if we didn't have enough stars leading their respective sides back into the playoff race, Federico Higuain is doing that with the Columbus Crew.
Despite losing 3-2 to Toronto, Higuain, and his three-game scoring streak, have put Columbus in a position to pounce in the coming weeks.
Columbus sits just outside of fifth in the East on a goal difference of two, which is something Higuain could easily flip in a week's time.
4. Pedro Morales
Previous Ranking: 7
Pedro Morales made Sporting Kansas City look like an average team in Vancouver's 2-0 win Saturday night.
The Chilean, who has made Whitecaps fans easily forget about Camilo, made three key passes and played a part in both goals.
He created an own goal in the 17th minute, and set up Darren Mattocks in the 39th minute, in his side's seventh victory of 2014.
3. Robbie Keane
Previous Ranking: 2
Robbie Keane had his first average game since the World Cup break, as he failed to put any of his five shots on target Friday night at StubHub Center.
The zero in the shots-on-goal column marked the first time since June 1 that the Irishman failed to fill up that stat category.
2. Javier Morales
Previous Ranking: 3
Javier Morales climbed within one assist of Henry for the league lead after he dished out two assists in RSL's win over D.C.
The performance from the electric playmaker marked the second time in four games in which he notched two assists.
1. Bradley Wright-Phillips
Previous Ranking: 1
It appears Bradley Wright-Phillips is human after all.
For just the third time since May 24, the Golden Boot leader failed to find the back of the net.
The scorer of the first strike from the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday took four shots against Chicago, but only one was on target.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.