MLS Player Power Rankings After Matches from August 20-24
Everywhere you turned in Major League Soccer this week, a star was putting on a memorable performance.
From Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips in New York to Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan in LA, and everywhere in between, there was no shortage of star power in Week 24.
Thanks to the output from the league's best, the competition for the top spot in the MLS Player Power Rankings was the tightest in weeks.
Continue reading on to see who ranks atop the list of the best 20 players in MLS.
On the Way out
These four players were sent packing from the top 20 because they came out on the short end of a blind draw.
All kidding aside, the four players below fell out of favor on the list due to some spectacular displays over the past few weeks by other stars worthy of making a breakthrough.
Players Dropped out of Rankings:
Erick Torres (Chivas USA; Previous Ranking: 12)
Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 15)
Will Bruin (Houston; 19)
Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 20)
20. Justin Meram
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
If you haven't become familiar with the name Justin Meram, you might want to before he plays again for Columbus.
In his last three games, the 25-year-old midfielder has three goals and two assists for a Crew side that all of a sudden looks like a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.
After wins in its last two games, Columbus is now in fourth place in the East, but it is only three points ahead of sixth-place New England.
19. Tesho Akindele
Previous Ranking: 18
It was always going to be a difficult task for Tesho Akindele to follow up his hat-trick against San Jose, especially since he lined up across from a functional defensive unit Friday.
Despite not scoring against Real Salt Lake, Akindele did provide the blazing-hot Fabian Castillo with an assist on the second FC Dallas goal in the 74th minute.
18. Perry Kitchen
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
If Perry Kitchen doesn't get called up to the United States men's national team in the next few months, fans of the league will be criticizing the decision-making skills of Jurgen Klinsmann.
Kitchen is playing that well in the center of the park for D.C. United, who is now in first place in the East after an emphatic 3-0 victory at Sporting Park.
In the statement win, Kitchen scored his fourth goal of the season to cap off a stunning first-half performance by the Black and Red.
17. Sebastien Le Toux
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
We can't really call for an international call-up for Sebastien Le Toux, or claim that he is underrated, but we can say he is in some pretty decent form for Philadelphia.
Le Toux beat up on the San Jose defense, which is becoming a weekly occurrence now, with a goal and three assists in the Union's 4-2 win over the Earthquakes.
The assists were his first since May 17, but he has been too busy scoring to make a dent in his assist total, as he has eight goals in his last 10 games.
16. Joao Plata
Previous Ranking: 14
Everybody's favorite 5'2" Ecuadorian had a bit of an off week for Real Salt Lake with just one shot on target in the Claret and Cobalt's loss to FC Dallas.
Although he had a rough week on the pitch, Plata became the latest in-form MLS forward to earn an international call-up.
The diminutive forward was named to Ecuador's 22-man roster for two September friendlies, which means he has a real chance of facing the United States on October 10 in Connecticut.
15. Osvaldo Alonso
Previous Ranking: 16
We promise sometime soon that Osvaldo Alonso will be joined by his midfield partner, Gonzalo Pineda, on this list, but for now Sounders fans will have to be content with just one midfield bulldog on this list.
In the 4-2 battering of Portland at Providence Park, Alonso made five interceptions and three tackles to disrupt the offensive rhythm of the Timbers.
Alonso also completed 90 percent of his passes, which is right around his season average, but he only made 51 passes compared to his season average of 64.2 per game.
14. Obafemi Martins
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Obafemi Martins had plenty of reasons to do backflips all over the Providence Park pitch, as he contributed to three of Seattle's goals.
Martins coolly finished in front of goal in the 18th minute, and he busted through a lousy Portland defense to seal things up in the 76th minute of the six-goal shootout between the Cascadia rivals.
Despite scoring a brace, Martins played second fiddle to Clint Dempsey, who finished off the Nigerian's pass in the 34th minute in stellar fashion, but we'll have more on that later.
13. Javier Morales
Previous Ranking: 6
For the second consecutive match, Javier Morales was left out of the Real Salt Lake lineup with an injury.
Morales could be ready to go for the San Jose match Saturday, as he participated in training Monday, per Chris Kamrani of the Salt Lake Tribune.
12. Chris Wondolowski
Previous Ranking: 13
Over the last few weeks, the San Jose defense has been heavily criticized, but the one-man scoring crew up front has continued to do his job.
Chris Wondolowski scored his 10th goal of the season to equalize the match at PPL Park Sunday before his side conceded on two more occasions.
With the strike, Wondolowski joined Carlos Ruiz and Juan Pablo Angel as the only players in league history to score 10 goals in five straight seasons, per ESPN's Paul Carr.
11. Pedro Morales
Previous Ranking: 7
The good news for Pedro Morales and the Vancouver Whitecaps is that they don't have to go back to the StubHub Center this season, unless they draw the Galaxy in the playoffs.
Any ounce of momentum that Morales and his teammates took into the two-game stretch against Chivas USA and the Galaxy was wiped away after 180 minutes of play.
In 112 minutes during those matches, Morales contributed a single shot on goal, which came against Chivas USA last week.
10. Clint Dempsey
Previous Ranking: 17
We could list everything Clint Dempsey did well against Portland here, but it would much easier to describe it by watching his absurdly wonderful run on Seattle's second goal.
The strike was the first for Dempsey since his last encounter with the Timbers on July 13.
The United States international, who now has 10 goals in 2014, has scored half of his strikes against Portland.
9. Diego Valeri
Previous Ranking: 10
The star player for the tree-cutting team to the south of Seattle had a decent showing in a losing effort Sunday.
Diego Valeri did the best he could to set up big plays for Portland with four key passes, but he was unable to break the Seattle defense himself, as none of his four shots went on target.
8. Federico Higuain
Previous Ranking: 5
Federico Higuain took a step away from the spotlight Saturday, as his unheralded teammates dismantled Houston, 3-0.
7. Gyasi Zardes
Previous Ranking: 4
It may come as a shock to us all after his terrific past few months, but Gyasi Zardes failed to score in both Galaxy games in Week 24.
To make matters worse, Zardes did not put a single shot on target against either Colorado or Vancouver.
Luckily for the young forward, his team earned the maximum six points from their Week 24 clashes.
6. Dom Dwyer
Previous Ranking: 3
After netting a brace against Toronto last week, Dom Dwyer was shut down by another contender for the title in the East.
Dwyer, who has logged over 2,000 minutes up front for Sporting Kansas City this season, was held to just one shot in the 3-0 loss to D.C. at home.
5. Thierry Henry
Previous Ranking: 11
Thierry Henry once again showed off his world-class talent in New York's 4-2 win with two goals and an assist.
Henry continued to leave us all in awe with his two second-half goals, and just because he is that good, he provided Bradley Wright-Phillips with a terrific assist in the 74th minute.
Although he did play a major role in the victory, Henry lost sole possession of the league lead in assists, which he now shares with Robbie Keane.
4. Landon Donovan
Previous Ranking: 9
In the latest chapter of the "Landon Donovan is really good at soccer" novel, the American legend was a complete menace to the defenses of Colorado and Vancouver.
Donovan scored a goal in each game he played this week, and he added an assist to that total in the 4-3 win over Colorado.
The goal and assist Wednesday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park were the first in each stat category since Donovan announced his retirement.
3. Fabian Castillo
Previous Ranking: 8
Following Fabian Castillo's fantastic Friday showing, there was a legitimate argument to put the Colombian winger at the top of this list, but then the top two players had strong games over the weekend.
In the 2-1 win over RSL, Castillo scored his fourth goal in three games for a FC Dallas side that now has a 10-game unbeaten run.
Lined up on the right wing to start the match, Castillo made the most of his 39 touches with four shots, two of which were on goal.
2. Robbie Keane
Previous Ranking: 2
Only a player with Robbie Keane's luck could see the biggest whiff of the week turn into an assist.
The missed kick in the build-up to Marcelo Sarvas' 32nd-minute goal was the worst thing to happen to Keane Saturday, as he fired off 11 shots, four of which went on target.
In the two games he played this week, Keane became the first player to hit double digits in goals and assists this season.
1. Bradley Wright-Phillips
Previous Ranking: 1
Just when you thought Bradley Wright-Phillips would begin to slow down, he netted a brace against Montreal.
With his second goal, Wright-Phillips became the best single-season scorer in Red Bulls franchise history with 20.
Wright-Phillips now needs eight goals in 10 games to break the league's single-season scoring record, which is 100 percent under threat from the Englishman.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.