Top 10 Attacking Midfielders of the 2014 MLS Season
As the 2014 MLS season draws to a close, Bleacher Report will examine the 10 best players in each position from this campaign. The top 10 goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders have already been revealed, with two lists left in the series.
In part four, the top 10 attacking midfielders will be ranked. Only players who play further up the pitch or as an attack-minded winger will be considered for this list.
Each player included in this list is required to have vision, accurate passing, goal-scoring ability and must be able to make runs off the ball.
Here are the top 10 attacking midfielders in MLS this season.
The 22-year-old has been one of New England's most underrated players this season. Rowe has recorded five goals and five assists in 25 appearances.
The Revs midfielder had seven goals and eight assists in 2013 but still has two games left to match those totals from a year ago. He narrowly misses the cut due to the quality of the players in the top 10.
However, the youngster has still improved this season with his movement and tactical intelligence.
Lamar Neagle is another talented player who has been flying under the radar. Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins usually take the plaudits, but Neagle also deserves credit.
The 27-year-old has eight goals in 30 games this season and has nine assists compared to just four in 2013. This has certainly contributed to the Sounders' Supporters' Shield hopes.
Neagle isn't a flashy player, and, like Rowe, he has a lot of competition but still deserves a mention for his efforts.
Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe is one of the trickiest players in MLS, and teams have zeroed in on him. Only Quincy Amarikwa (95) has suffered more fouls than Nagbe (87), per MLSSoccer.com.
The 24-year-old doesn't have a goal this season, but he's recorded seven assists, beating his 2013 tally of four. His role under head coach Caleb Porter has changed, but Nagbe's impact remains the same.
The lack of goals and shots hurts Nagbe's top 10 hopes this time around, but he's still a dangerous player on the pitch and should be monitored by opposing defenses at all times.
The New York Red Bulls officially clinched a playoff spot on Sunday, and Lloyd Sam is a major reason why they earned a postseason berth.
Sam has nine assists but just three goals. That's a normal ratio for a winger, but those numbers aren't good enough for the top 10.
However, take nothing away from the Englishman. He's been one of the Red Bulls' best players in 2014.
10. Luis Silva
D.C. United has experienced a resurgence this season. Head coach Ben Olsen has recovered from an abysmal 2013 campaign, and Luis Silva is one of the many outstanding performers who have led the charge.
Silva was acquired from Toronto FC halfway through the 2013 season, and now he's settled into Olsen's system and is thriving.
The 25-year-old has 11 goals from just 39 shots and four assists in 27 appearances. They're impressive numbers, but Silva finds himself at No. 10 because of his poor first touch.
Silva averages just over one poor first touch per match and is dispossessed 1.2 times per game, via WhoScored.com.
However, his goal-scoring prowess and movement isn't matched by many in MLS, which is why the former TFC attacker deserves this spot.
9. Fabian Castillo
Fabian Castillo has been on the cusp of greatness since joining FC Dallas in 2011 as an 18-year-old. Now, in 2014, the Colombian has progressed significantly under head coach Oscar Pareja.
Castillo isn't as rushed in the final third and is using his speed to advantage. His ability to dribble past defenders has led to a career-high nine goals.
Castillo's decision-making has also improved in 2014, which has led to him being more composed in the box.
If it wasn't for niggling injuries, Castillo would be ranked higher in the top 10.
8. Federico Higuain
The Columbus Crew inched closer to the postseason with a dramatic comeback victory on Saturday. Federico Higuain was an unused substitute, but the designated player has been integral for the Crew this year.
Higuain has scored 11 goals, recording six assists in the process. The 29-year-old's passing is highly accurate given the amount of long balls he attempts.
The Argentinean attempts five long balls per match but still completes nearly 83 percent of his passes, according to WhoScored.
Higuain possesses all of the attributes to be a top-tier attacking midfielder. The Crew captain has had a few poor performances this season, but they've been nullified by some quality displays.
7. Pedro Morales
Pedro Morales made an immediate impact when he arrived in MLS. He scored a goal and assisted another as a second half substitute in the Vancouver Whitecaps' opening match against the New York Red Bulls.
Morales now has a total of 10 goals and 11 assists. Seven of his tallies have come from penalties, but that's only one of his many attributes.
Morales' only negative is that he's been less effective away from BC Place. He's only bagged three goals and recorded three assists on the road this season, hence the No. 7 ranking.
6. Graham Zusi
Sporting Kansas City has slightly declined this season, but they're still playoff-bound, and that's thanks in large part to Graham Zusi.
Zusi has five goals and eight assists for SKC this year. He needs one more strike to equal his 2013 scoring output.
The 28-year-old hasn't shown a lot of fatigue since returning from World Cup duty. He's still one of the trickiest, fastest wingers in MLS and will be a key starter in the playoffs for head coach Peter Vermes.
5. Brad Davis
The Houston Dynamo didn't make the playoffs, but despite this, a few of their players had outstanding seasons. Brad Davis is one player who deserves a lot of plaudits.
Davis is the focal point for the Dynamo. He's recorded four goals and 10 assists in 23 appearances in 2014. That's an incredible ratio for a player who plays on the flanks.
The 32-year-old is an accomplished crosser and also provides key passes. This is further proof that Davis is arguably the Dynamo's most important player and ranks a solid No. 5.
4. Javier Morales
Real Salt Lake has only won three of its last eight matches, but as Randal Serr of SB Nation suggests, that isn't a bad omen.
RSL still clinched a playoff spot despite showing poor form, and Javier Morales has been a key player in another successful season.
The Argentinean had to step up in the absence of star striker Alvaro Saborio, who had surgery on his foot. Morales improved on a career-best 2013, scoring nine goals and recording 12 assists.
The RSL stalwart may be 34, but he's still a quality playmaker. Morales completes nearly 84 percent of his passes, attempting an average of 63 per game, via WhoScored. His 3.3 key passes are only second to Donovan's 3.6, and this places him firmly at No. 4 on this list.
3. Diego Valeri
Portland trails Vancouver by one point for the fifth and final playoff spot. The Timbers may end up qualifying by outscoring their opponents, as only L.A. (67) and Seattle (61) have scored more goals than Caleb Porter's side (59).
Diego Valeri has been involved in 25 of Portland's goals, scoring 11 of them this season. That total is up from his debut campaign in 2013, as are his 14 assists.
The Argentinean combines goal scoring with vision and technique, which makes him the quintessential attacking midfielder.
2. Lee Nguyen
Lee Nguyen has had an incredible 2014 season with New England. All of the hype has led to MVP talk and a USMNT call-up in the near future.
Nguyen has scored 15 goals this year, shattering his career high. He's also accumulated five assists in the process.
Passing is one of Nguyen's most underrated traits. The 28-year-old has an 80 percent passing accuracy and completes more than two key passes per match, via WhoScored.
Nguyen is also an effective dribbler and goal scorer and provides excellent linkup play. He's one of the most complete players in his position.
1. Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan is still one of the best players in MLS and the best in his position, bar none.
He scores, he's an accurate passer, he's tricky and his intelligence is unmatched by any active American. These attributes make him one of the best U.S. players of all time.
Donovan leads the league in assists with 19, which is the most he's ever recorded in his MLS career. The Galaxy midfielder has also scored 10 goals.
The 32-year-old's ability to contribute in multiple areas of the pitch makes him the best attacking midfielder in MLS this campaign.
Peter Galindo is Bleacher Report's MLS Featured Columnist. Follow him on Twitter @pgalindo16.