MLS Player Rankings: Dempsey Faces New Challenge for Top Spot

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 17, 2015

MLS Player Rankings: Dempsey Faces New Challenge for Top Spot

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    Unlike the dull first week of action in Major League Soccer, Week 2 delivered plenty of fireworks. 

    Some of the league's top players found their way onto the scoresheet across the eight games played from Friday to Sunday. 

    In the early race for the Golden Boot, Clint Dempsey received a challenge from a new contender, who bagged a brace in his side's match on Saturday night.

    As it will be for the rest of the season, our list of the top 20 players in MLS is a cumulative one. While we do have a handful of stars entering the list for their respective performances in Week 2, their showings in Week 1 have also been taken into account. 

    Continue reading on for a look at who made the cut for this week's edition of the MLS Player Rankings. 

On the Way out

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    Seven players dropped out of the rankings due to poor performances, injuries and bye weeks. 

    Players Dropped Out of Rankings

    Tyler Deric (Houston Dynamo; Week 1 Ranking: 5)

    Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 13)

    Tyrone Mears (Seattle Sounders; 15)

    Lloyd Sam (New York Red Bulls; 16)

    Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo; 17)

    Jairo Arrieta (D.C. United; 18)

    Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids; 20) 

20. Ike Opara, CB, Sporting Kansas City

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    Week 1 Ranking: 7

    After he thrived in the back against the Red Bulls in Week 1, Ike Opara suffered through a rough game at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night. 

    Opara and the Sporting Kansas City defense conceded three goals against FC Dallas, although most people will debate the validity of one of them since the entire Dallas attack was offside. 

    In the 3-1 defeat, Opara made five clearances, five interceptions and won an aerial duel. He should be able to regain some stability next week when Matt Besler returns to the starting lineup. 

19. Justin Meram, LM, Columbus Crew

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    Week 1 Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Justin Meram turned in a terrific season debut in front of the home fans in Columbus on Saturday night. 

    The 26-year-old winger, who scored eight goals in 32 games last year, recorded a goal on seven shots in the 2-0 win over Toronto FC. 

    Although he did fire seven shots toward the Toronto goal, only two of them were on target. His second shot on goal bounced off the bottom of the left post in the second half. 

    Meram and the Crew will have a week off before they host the Red Bulls during the fourth week of the season. 

18. Fernando Aristeguieta, FW, Philadelphia Union

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    Week 1 Ranking: Not Ranked

    Through the first two weeks of the season, Fernando Aristeguieta has given the Union a ton of energy at the forward position, which is something the team lacked in 2014. 

    Aristeguieta was rewarded for his hard work in the final third with two goals on the road at Rio Tinto Stadium in Week 2. 

    The Venezuelan nodded in an easy goal in the 34th minute after a deflected shot forced Nick Rimando into a leaping save. 

    In the 38th minute, the new addition to the Philadelphia squad benefited from a defensive mistake by Chris Schuler and powered a shot into the left side of the net. 

17. Mix Diskerud, CM, New York City FC

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    Week 1 Ranking: 19 

    While David Villa was busy catching all the headlines at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night, Mix Diskerud was busy doing the dirty work in the New York City FC midfield. 

    The United States men's national team player was efficient on the narrow pitch at the temporary home of the expansion club, as he completed 88.3 percent of his 77 passes. 

    Diskerud also recorded a game-high 97 touches in the club's first-ever victory. He outnumbered the next best player in that stat category by 26. 

16. Stefan Ishizaki, RM, LA Galaxy

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    Week 1 Ranking: 9

    With the seconds winding down in the final match of the weekend, Stefan Ishizaki whipped in a corner kick that created an equalizer for the LA Galaxy. 

    Ishizaki's cross from the right corner flag connected with the head of Alan Gordon and earned LA's first road point of 2015. 

    Six of the 32-year-old's eight long balls were accurate, and he made two key passes in the Pacific Northwest. 

15. Victor Ulloa, CDM, FC Dallas

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    Week 1 Ranking: 10

    After starring in his defensive midfield role in the first game of 2015, Victor Ulloa had a decent showing in the victory over Sporting Kansas City. 

    The 23-year-old only earned one tackle and an interception in the game in which he committed three fouls. 

    However, Ulloa did win five aerial duels, which was one less than forward Blas Perez won in 90 minutes of play. 

14. Wil Trapp, CDM, Columbus Crew

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    Week 1 Ranking: Not Ranked 

    One defensive midfielder who did thrive at his position in Week 2 was USMNT prospect Wil Trapp. 

    Trapp recorded the highest number of touches in any MLS game this weekend with 118, and he made 101 passes during his 90-minute shift. 

    Of the large number of passes attempted by Trapp, he converted 87.1 percent of them. The 22-year-old also recorded three tackles and three interceptions in the win over Toronto. 

13. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes

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    Week 1 Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Chris Wondolowski's road to his sixth consecutive double-digit goal season began in Seattle on Saturday night. 

    The USMNT forward bagged a brace in San Jose's shocking 3-2 win over Seattle on the turf at CenturyLink Field. 

    Wondolowski's eighth and ninth career strikes against the Sounders helped San Jose earn its first win in league play since August 2, 2014. That victory also came against Seattle. 

12. Fanendo Adi, FW, Portland Timbers

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    Week 1 Ranking: Not Ranked

    Fanendo Adi recorded his fifth career brace in MLS in Portland's 2-2 draw with the Galaxy at Providence Park. 

    The 24-year-old Nigerian, who entered the league last season, has scored a total of 11 goals since his debut on May 17, 2014. 

    Of those 11 strikes, Adi has earned 10 of them through five two-goal performances in a Timbers shirt. The only game in which he scored a single goal for the Timbers was their 3-2 defeat to Toronto on September 27, 2014. 

11. David Villa, FW, New York City FC

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    Week 1 Ranking: Not Ranked

    It was only fitting that the marquee name on the New York City FC teamsheet opened the club's account at Yankee Stadium.

    Villa netted the first home goal in franchise history in the 20th minute after he played a give-and-go with Ned Grabavoy near the top of the box. 

    After entering into the role of goalscorer for the first time in a NYCFC shirt, Villa turned into a provider in the 84th minute on Patrick Mullins' first goal of the season. 

    If he plays like he did on Sunday night, the Spaniard should have no problem scoring over 10 goals and recording more than 10 assists. 

10. Octavio Rivero, FW, Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Week 1 Ranking: 14

    It seems like the acquisition of Octavio Rivero is going to work out fine for the Whitecaps. 

    Rivero took the most shots of any player this season in Vancouver's 1-0 win over Chicago on Saturday afternoon. The 23-year-old attempted eight shots, three of which were on target. 

    One of the shots that did reach the target beat Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch, as the Uruguayan slotted home a Steven Beitashour pass into the back of the net in the 86th minute. 

    In 180 minutes of play with his new club, Rivero has scored two goals on 10 shots. 

9. Kei Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew

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    Week 1 Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Another new signing that is reaping plenty of rewards early in the season is Columbus' Kei Kamara. 

    Kamara finished off Columbus' win over Toronto with a 61st-minute strike that was followed by a planned celebration. The forward recreated the club's old logo after he jumped over the advertising boards and provided two staffers with hard hats.

    In his first two games with the Crew, Kamara has put six of his 11 shots on target. Both numbers are tied for league highs. 

    Kamara has hit the same amount of shots as Sebastian Giovinco, while he is level with Perez in the shots on target category. 

8. Kekuta Manneh, LM, Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Week 1 Ranking: 11 

    Just like Ishizaki did in Week 1, Kekuta Manneh had a field day against the Chicago back four. 

    The electric Vancouver winger made five key passes and attempted four shots in Vancouver's first road victory of the 2015 season. 

    His performance on Saturday was his best in the shot department since May 24, 2014, when he recorded five shots in a 2-2 draw against the Sounders. 

    Manneh will look to terrorize the Orlando City defense in Week 3, as the Whitecaps make a visit to the Citrus Bowl on Saturday. 

7. Robbie Keane, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Week 1 Ranking: 

    We promise Robbie Keane will be happy with his teammates at some point this season.

    The easily frustrated forward, who is ready to take over Thierry Henry's throne as the angriest player in the league, recorded two shots in the Galaxy's draw with the Timbers. 

    While he may not have scored his second goal of the season, Keane still remained a dangerous threat in the final third for the defending MLS Cup champion. 

    Keane will look to score against the Dynamo for the first time in his MLS career in Week 3, when Houston visits the StubHub Center. 

6. Sebastian Giovinco, AM, Toronto FC

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    Week 1 Ranking: 4

    Giovinco did his best to earn his first MLS goal despite Toronto being down a man for the entire second half at Mapfre Stadium. 

    The little Italian attempted the most shots of any Toronto player with five, and he kept his hold on the league lead in the category. 

    Giovinco might not retain his lead atop that list after Week 3 since the Reds will have the week off to prepare for a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium to face Real Salt Lake. 

5. Kaka, AM, Orlando City

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    Week 1 Ranking: 3

    The good news for Orlando City is that Kaka is living up to the billing after two games with the Lions.

    The bad news about the expansion side's start to the season is the Brazilian is lacking creative teammates in the final third. 

    In the 1-0 win over Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium, Kaka earned two of the club's three shots on target, and he made 52 touches. 

    His time on the pitch was much more productive than that of forward Carlos Rivas, who touched the ball on 14 occasions in 53 minutes. 

4. Jozy Altidore, FW, Toronto FC

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    Week 1 Ranking: 

    Jozy Altidore's second match in a Toronto shirt wasn't as exciting as his inaugural showing in red. 

    The USMNT forward, who bagged a brace against Vancouver in Week 1, failed to put a shot on target in Toronto's 2-0 loss to Columbus. 

    Altidore has to be given the benefit of the doubt in this situation because the Reds went down to 10 men before the half-time whistle. 

    After the second half began, Columbus took complete control of the match and negated Altidore's impact on the final result. 

3. Obafemi Martins, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Week 1 Ranking: 6

    With his side down by two goals in the 84th minute, Obafemi Martins attempted to spring a Seattle comeback. 

    The Nigerian tapped home an Andy Rose pass in the middle of the box and handed the Sounders a chance to earn a point at home against the Earthquakes. 

    Unfortunately, Martins was unable to power his third goal of the season into the back of the net before the final whistle sounded. 

    Martins' second-half goal was the third of his career against the Earthquakes. 

2. Blas Perez, FW, FC Dallas

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    Week 1 Ranking: 12 

    Perez played a key role in FC Dallas' second victory of the season on Saturday night. 

    The Panamanian target man finished off a lovely display of team skill in the 17th minute, as he opened the scoring at Toyota Stadium. 

    Perez then jumped to the top of the Golden Boot standings in the 52nd minute, as he hit a shot with his right foot past Sporting KC goalkeeper Luis Marin. 

    However, if you look at the replay of his second goal, it appears that Perez and quite a few of his teammates were in an offside position before Michel played his cross into the box. 

1. Clint Dempsey, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Week 1 Ranking: 1

    Before the Sounders conceded three goals to one of the worst teams in the league, Clint Dempsey wrote his name into the club's record book. 

    Dempsey, who scored 30 seconds into the USMNT's World Cup opener against Ghana, recorded the fastest goal in Seattle history when he scored 18 seconds into the match at CenturyLink Field. 

    The joint top scorer in MLS headed his third goal of the season into the net after San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham let a rebound drop right to Dempsey.

    Dempsey's early strike was the sixth fastest in league history, per ESPN's Paul Carr. 

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

    All statistics obtained from and

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