Ranking the 20 Best Players in MLS Right Now
There is no easy way to determine who the best 20 players are in Major League Soccer right now.
The gravity of the task, though, should not stop the pursuit.
Therefore, the following list looks at 20 outfield players currently plying their trade in MLS and ranks them from 20 down to the best player in the league. It does not include goalkeepers.
No quantitative method employed here, just hours upon hours of watching, studying and analyzing the league led to this ranking.
There are lots of strikers and midfielders in the mix. A few backs, although not as many as the other positions. The outside fullback spot might well be the weakest of all in Major League Soccer.
Enjoy! As always, thoughtful commentary is always helpful in ironing out the finer points of this debate.
20: DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders
It has been a short professional career so far for DeAndre Yedlin, but the young American fullback has impressed during his time with the Seattle Sounders.
Gifted with blazing pace and a fearlessness about him, Yedlin is capable and willing to barrel down his flank and look to get into the attack.
He will need to work on crossing accuracy but could be in the mix to contribute for the U.S. national team during the Gold Cup this summer.
19: Jerry Bengtson, New England Revolution
Jerry Bengtson is phenomenal at moving off the ball for both the New England Revolution and the Honduran national team.
Bengtson is technical and works well alongside his gifted teammates Lee Nguyen and Juan Toja.
He can hold the ball up in traffic and distribute balls into space for a Revolution side desperate for offense.
18: Mike Magee, Los Angeles Galaxy
Mike Magee made a name for himself in November, scoring critical goals during the playoffs in Major League Soccer.
The American has picked up his hot scoring this season, too, and is one of two players to lead the league in goals with six.
Magee is special in that he can play as a striker or on either flank in the midfield. His finishing is proficient, and he's capable of combining with teammates Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan in the final third.
17: David Ferreira, FC Dallas
Rare is the midfielder that stirs the drink more effectively that FC Dallas playmaker David Ferreira.
Ferreira possesses quality vision and can think up incisive and creative passes. He also has the skill to ensure they reach their intended target.
He is a true No. 10 in a league where class at said position is sometimes difficult to find.
16: Alvaro Saborio, Real Salt Lake
Alvaro Saborio's game is by no means flamboyant, but the Costa Rican striker can get the job done on both the MLS and international level.
Saborio admirably contributes in possession from the No. 9 role for Salt Lake. He's also quite dangerous in pressuring backs and getting into the box.
He deftly finishes from distance or in short-range situations and permits RSL to play through his holdup work.
15: Patrice Bernier, Montreal Impact
The Montreal Impact got off to the hottest start of any team in MLS after three games; thanks, in large part, to the midfield play of Patrice Bernier.
The Canadian stations himself in behind the more forward-thinking Felipe. This gives the Impact exactly what they want offensively, their creative Brazilian on the ball.
Bernier has perfected one-touch soccer and will look to continue to push Montreal into a deep playoff run.
14: Jack McInerney, Philadelphia Union
Jack McInerney is one of two players currently with six total goals right now in MLS. That total leads the league.
The young American striker is giving opposing backs trouble thanks to his intelligent movement off the ball and his ability to calmly finish both difficult and "must-have" chances.
The future will look bright if McInerney keeps scoring goals at this sort of clip. Is an invitation into the next US national team camp in the cards?
13: Juninho, Los Angeles Galaxy
The midfield general for the best team in the league, the Los Angeles Galaxy, Juninho is fast becoming one of the best central players in North American soccer.
Juninho's positioning and defensive work rewards Los Angeles the capability to get forward with numbers. He can mix it up in the midfield, too, and is not afraid to tackle or play physically.
He's a threat from deep to score with a laces-led strike. His game will be crucial as the Galaxy pursue a third straight championship.
12: Victor Bernardez, San Jose Earthquakes
Victor Bernardez combines a physical presence with a smooth touch to create a skill set that is worthy of praise.
Rare is the striker who is capable of burning the Honduran. Bernardez can match speedy forwards with his pace and physical opponents with his strength.
His staunch defensive work contributed to San Jose's best record in Major League Soccer last season.
11: Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake
Kyle Beckerman could very well be the most critical player in terms of his teams' success of any midfielder in MLS.
Beckerman has perfected the No. 6 role for Real Salt Lake. He is a tireless worker with excellent technique and a good sense of how to set a tempo in the short distribution game. His ball-winning often starts an attack for RSL.
Beckerman is a true captain and a key reason why Real Salt Lake has had so much success recently.
10: Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City
Matt Besler embodies the definition of a modern center back.
His ability to string silky passes from deep in his defensive third affords Sporting Kansas City the opportunity to build from their own end.
His left-footed distribution resembles that of a gifted midfield passer, and he sports superior timing and instincts to defend in his own box. It's no wonder he could well be starting for the US national team in Brazil 2014.
9: Federico Higuain, Columbus Crew
Federico Higuain is one of the best true No. 10s in MLS right now.
He's a playmaker from the middle of the park, sprays balls with grace and is an excellent option to take set pieces.
Higuain is a big reason why Columbus is in the conversation as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference right now.
8: Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo
Brad Davis is a unique player that can put a ball just about anywhere he desires with his magical left foot.
The American has led the Houston Dynamo to two straight MLS Cup final appearances.
Davis is dangerous with every dead ball opportunity he takes. He can score goals, assist and is an asset in the possession game.
Expect Brad Davis to continue to be considered for the national team in the near future.
7: Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders
Osvaldo Alonso plays the holding midfield position to perfection.
A master at ball-winning, tackling and simple distribution, Alonso is the engine that makes Seattle's offense tick.
He almost always covers the most ground of anyone in any game he competes in and is key in everything Seattle does in MLS.
6: Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy
Landon Donovan has returned from hiatus and is already reminding MLS why he is widely considered to be the best American ever to play soccer.
Donovan's got the pace and fitness to run for days, the competitiveness to compete at any level and and the confidence and skill to produce critical goals in the most important of moments.
Any doubt that Donovan will return to the national team as the group continues its quest for World Cup qualification should be quelled. He is simply that good.
5: Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City
Graham Zusi has arrived as both a best 11 player in MLS and as a serious contributor on the international stage.
Best served as a flank midfielder, Zusi has multiple skills in his bag of tricks. The young American can beat defenders off the dribble, can serve pinpoint crosses and can ping short passes along the floor.
He's also a tireless worker and an underrated individual defender. Expect to see Zusi wearing red, white and blue in the summer of 2014 in Brazil.
4: Omar Gonzalez, Los Angeles Galaxy
There is a reason that Jurgen Klinsmann trusts Omar Gonzalez to lead the U.S. men's national team into Brazil 2014.
The big center back has staked his claim as the most dominate defender in MLS. He's a lock to win every aerial battle he challenges for, is solid in the tackle and is expert in positioning.
Gonzalez is also a serious threat to score on dead-ball situations. He will be a key cog for both the Galaxy and the USMNT in the coming weeks and months.
3: Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls
Thierry Henry is arguably the most decorated footballer ever to grace MLS.
His accolades are well-know,n but he's still yet to taste the elusive glory of an MLS Cup title.
Henry has scored goals in bunches since joining the league, utilizing his quick trigger, crafty cut-based dribbling and supreme vision.
He has made it clear that he's desperate for one more championship before hanging up his boots.
2: Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes
Chris Wondolowski is the reigning MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner. The American was on fire last season, tying Roy Lassiter's record for most goals in a season with 27.
He is a true striker in that he's always in the perfect spot in front of the goal. No task is too daunting for Wondolowski as he consistently puts his body in harms way for the sake of his team.
He's picked up his scoring ways this season so far and will be massive for San Jose as the Earthquakes look to return to the MLS playoffs.
1: Robbie Keane, Los Angeles Galaxy
Robbie Keane has taken the MLS by storm since his arrival and has already won two MLS Cup titles.
The Irishman combines intelligent movement off the ball with an ability to weave around multiple defenders. His passing and vision are divine, and he can finish both in and outside of the box.
He's a true total package, a nightmare cover and a world class footballer. His third championship in MLS is a definite possibility at the end of this season.