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MLS Player Rankings: Diaz, Morales Rise After Impressive Week 4 Showings

Joe TanseyFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2017

MLS Player Rankings: Diaz, Morales Rise After Impressive Week 4 Showings

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    The international break may have halted the strong starts of many Major League Soccer players, but a few playmakers were able to impress during the small slate of matches in Week 4. 

    Due to the strong numbers put up by some players on Saturday, we saw a little bit of a shift in our latest MLS Player Rankings. 

    Among the changes were a new entrant into the top 10 and a high riser who secured a top-three position after four weeks of play across North America.

    Our player rankings take into account the last four performances of everyone in MLS with the most recent showing carrying the most importance.

    Continue reading on to see who made the biggest leaps in our latest MLS Player Rankings.

On the Way out

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Four players moved into the top 20 this week thanks to the inactivity of others. Although we try not to hold the schedule against players, the quartet of entrants forced our hand after Week 4.

    Players Dropped out of Rankings

    C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union; Week 3 Ranking: 17) 

    Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids; 18)

    Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers; 19)

    Nuno Andre Coelho (Sporting Kansas City; 20) 

20. Juan Manuel Martinez, AM, Real Salt Lake

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 13

    The seven-spot tumble of Juan Manuel Martinez after Week 4 has to due with his lack of numbers in the major attacking categories compared to others higher on the list. 

    The Real Salt Lake midfielder recorded an assist in each of his first two contests, but he did not contribute to a strike in Week 3. 

    Martinez will face a difficult task in Week 5 as the Claret and Cobalt take on Sporting Kansas City and the league's top defense at Children's Mercy Park. 

19. Mike Magee, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 15

    The star of Week 1 remains on thin ice this week due to the production from some of the Week 4 newcomers. 

    Another reason Mike Magee falls four positions after the final week of March is that he earned two goals and one assist back on the opening night of the season.

    In the three weeks since, the veteran forward has just one goal.

18. Dominic Oduro, FW, Montreal Impact

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Dominic Oduro and the rest of the Montreal attack have to wait seven extra days to get over their awful performance from Week 3 at Toyota Stadium. 

    The flashy Ghanaian, who has two goals and one assist through March, will get back on the pitch on Saturday against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.

    In seven career contests against the Sounders, Oduro has failed to find the back of the net.

17. Tim Melia, GK, Sporting Kansas City

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 16

    Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia stays close to the spot he was assigned after Week 3 because he's been more consistent than the trio below him.

    Melia helped Peter Vermes' side earn the league's top defensive mark in March, and Sporting KC enter April with the lone perfect record across MLS.

    The 29-year-old lost both of his starts against Week 5 opponent Real Salt Lake in 2015. 

16. Thomas McNamara, CM, New York City FC

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    William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    You're going to hear a lot of chatter over the next few months about the international prospects of Thomas McNamara. 

    The American's status as a cult hero among the NYCFC faithful grows with each week and with that comes added social media hype about the possibility of the midfielder being called up to the USMNT.

    McNamara still has a long way to go until he receives a call from Jurgen Klinsmann, but he's done nothing but help his stock so far this season. 

15. Michael Barrios, RM, FC Dallas

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Michael Barrios burst into the spotlight in Week 4 with a brace against a weak D.C. United back four at RFK Stadium.

    The FC Dallas attacker bagged a pair of goals before halftime to help Oscar Pareja's men separate themselves from the Black and Red. 

    Barrios has nine tallies since July 2015 for FC Dallas. That total has only been bested by nine other players, per Opta.

14. Mix Diskerud, CM, New York City FC

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 12

    If he plays like he did on Friday for the USMNT for the rest of the MLS season, Mix Diskerud won't spend much time on this list. 

    Despite facing loads of criticism whenever he takes the pitch, the American midfielder produced a solid set of three matches for NYCFC before leaving for international duty. 

    If he continues to play consistently at the club level, Diskerud may earn more USMNT call-ups despite the outrage of the fans directed at his inclusion.

13. David Accam, FW, Chicago Fire

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    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11

    David Accam started off 2016 strong, but injury concerns currently surround the Ghanaian forward. 

    The 25-year-old, who scored in both of the Fire's first two matches, missed the Week 3 match with Columbus due to a knock, and he may have to sit out Saturday's clash with Philadelphia. 

    Chicago boss Veljko Paunovic revealed Accam is day to day at the moment, per the team's official Twitter account.

12. Maxi Urruti, FW, FC Dallas

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    It's amazing what a change of scenery and a healthy amount of playing time can do for a player. 

    Offseason acquisition Maxi Urruti has found the back of the net on three occasions in four matches for FC Dallas in 2016. 

    The latest strike from the former Portland man came on Saturday in FC Dallas' 3-0 win over D.C.

11. Andrew Wenger, RM, Houston Dynamo

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    William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    It turns out the dangerous Houston Dynamo attack can be halted in its tracks. 

    Andrew Wenger was one of many Dynamo players who struggled to break through the Vancouver defense on Saturday at BC Place.

    The owner of two goals and two assists in 2016 recorded just 27 touches in 57 minutes in Week 4. 

10. Fanendo Adi, FW, Portland Timbers

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    Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 10

    Fanendo Adi's splendid form since joining MLS turned into a Nigeria call-up during the latest international break. 

    The Portland forward did not feature in Nigeria's African Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt on Friday. The same two sides meet on Tuesday in Alexandria, Egypt. 

    When he returns to MLS for Week 5 action, Adi will look to score his first career tally against second-year side Orlando City.

9. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Despite beginning the new campaign with a goal and an assist in two straight games, Sebastian Giovinco didn't receive a call-up to the Italy squad. 

    The 2015 MLS Most Valuable Player must retain his form in front of net in order to be considered for Antonio Conte's Euro 2016 squad. 

    Giovinco could add to his totals in Week 5 versus a Colorado side he produced two goals and one assist against on September 19, 2015. 

8. Andre Blake, GK, Philadelphia Union

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Just like many of his American counterparts in MLS, Andre Blake was in action during Friday's CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches.

    The man who boasts the second-best save total in the league after four weeks helped Jamaica earn a critical 1-1 draw with Costa Rica at home in the Reggae Boyz's third contest of the current qualifying phase. 

    After participating in Tuesday's return leg against the Ticos, Blake will lead the Union to the pitch against Chicago on Saturday.

7. Pedro Morales, CM, Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Yes, Pedro Morales sits atop the Golden Boot standings after Week 4, but he hasn't scored from the run of play in 2016. 

    The Chilean midfielder has converted from the spot four times in the early stages of the season for the Vancouver Whitecaps. 

    You have to give credit to Morales for slotting home each of his penalties, but until he scores a goal from open action, he won't grab the top spot on this list.

6. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    As much as USMNT fans hate to admit it, Chris Wondolowski would have been a valuable asset to have on the pitch in the loss to Guatemala.

    The trademark poacher, who has thrived against lower-ranked nations for the Yanks, entered the international break in solid form with three goals in three contests. 

    When he gets back to San Jose later this week, Wondolowski will look to extend his impressive form against D.C. United. He has four goals in his last three meetings with the Black and Red.

5. Will Bruin, FW, Houston Dynamo

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Will Bruin failed to consistently get past an organized Vancouver back line on Saturday as he recorded 31 touches and put one shot on target in 80 minutes at BC Place. 

    Entering April, the Houston forward is one of five players in MLS who have contributed to five of their team's goals. Four of the five come from the Western Conference. 

    Bruin will not have a chance to gain ground in the Golden Boot race in Week 5 since the Dynamo are one of two sides to have an off game week.

4. Ignacio Piatti, CAM, Montreal Impact

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Ignacio Piatti is the only Eastern Conference player to play a role in five of his side's tallies in 2016. 

    The Montreal midfield maestro recorded three goals and two assists in his first two matches, but his production dropped off in Week 3 against FC Dallas.

    If a similar poor showing rears its head in Week 5 versus Seattle, Piatti could experience a significant drop on this list. 

3. Mauro Diaz, CAM, FC Dallas

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    It comes as no surprise that Mauro Diaz has found his way to the top of the league assist chart. 

    The FC Dallas playmaker added to his tally with a pair of handouts in FC Dallas' impressive victory over a struggling D.C. side. 

    Diaz currently leads a group of 11 players by two in the race to be the best passer in MLS.

2. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City

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    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    If you haven't had the pleasure of watching Cyle Larin play, we suggest you check out Orlando City's Sunday night match against the Portland Timbers. 

    The dynamic Canadian has displayed no signs of a sophomore slump yet, and he may not be in MLS for long if he keeps up his scoring ways. 

    The top selection in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft has scored in each of his first three games this year for the Lions. 

     

1. Joao Plata, FW, Real Salt Lake

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Joao Plata may have lost his lead in the Golden Boot race after Week 4, but he remains atop the MLS Player Rankings for another week.

    Morales or Diaz could have overtaken the Ecuadorian this week, but Plata's overall body of work in 2016 is quite impressive. 

    The 24-year-old is the only player in the league with a two-goal and two-assist performance to his name this season, and he has helped Real Salt Lake get off to a decent start despite three red cards. 

     

    Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    All statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com and WhoScored.com.

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