MLS Player Rankings: Nguyen, Igboananike Debut After Shortened Week 27
With only 10 teams taking to the fields across Major League Soccer in Week 27, the door was open for a few stars to display their talents on a bigger stage.
Thanks to the absences of plenty of superstars due to international duty and bye weeks, players like Lee Nguyen who have been flying under the radar recently caught a good amount of the headlines.
Nguyen is one of three players who took the most advantage of the unique situation in Week 27 and earned a spot on the list of the league's 20 best players.
Our player rankings take into account form over the last four matches, with the player's most recent performance holding more stock than the other three.
Continue reading to see which 20 players landed where in the latest edition of the MLS Player Rankings.
On the Way Out
International duty, bye weeks and strong performances from those on the pitch in MLS this weekend cost three players their spots in the top 20.
Players Dropped Out of Rankings
Juninho (LA Galaxy; Previous Ranking: 16)
David Accam (Chicago Fire; 18)
Giovani Dos Santos (LA Galaxy; 19)
20. Michael Barrios, FW, FC Dallas
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Michael Barrios can thank FC Dallas' social media team for his inclusion in the top 20 for the first time this season. As the club noted on Twitter, only five players have scored more goals than Barrios since July 4.
Barrios netted his fifth goal since the start of July on a terrific counter in the 69th minute of the Hoops' 3-0 road win over the Crew on Sunday night.
If you zoom in on Barrios' recent production in the final third for Oscar Pareja's side, he has two goals and one assist in his last four matches.
With Barrios rounding into form with the stretch run of the season ahead, FC Dallas now has another reliable option in addition to Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele to rely on in the final third.
19. Anibal Godoy, CDM, San Jose Earthquakes
Previous Ranking: 15
Without Anibal Godoy in the lineup, the San Jose Earthquakes came apart late in the second half and fell to Philadelphia at home 2-1.
When he returns from international duty, the Panamanian will have to deal with the stingy play of Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso on Saturday night.
If Godoy fails to control the midfield battle against the Sounders, the Earthquakes could be knocked out of the playoff race.
18. Andrew Farrell, CB, New England Revolution
Previous Ranking: 20
The New England attack may have caught all the headlines on Saturday night, but the Revolution defense also turned in an impressive 90-minute shift.
Andrew Farrell and his teammates at the back limited Orlando City to two shots on goal in the Eastern Conference clash at Gillette Stadium.
The clean sheet was the third in a row for the Revs, and it was the fourth in the last six games for a New England side flying under the radar at the moment.
17. Sebastian Lletget, LM, LA Galaxy
Previous Ranking: 14
Sebastian Lletget and the LA Galaxy were unable to wash away the bad taste of the Week 26 loss to San Jose due to their first bye week of the year.
Lletget, who has seven goals and two assists in 11 starts for Bruce Arena's side, will look to help his team get back on track in Week 28, when the Galaxy host the Montreal Impact at StubHub Center.
16. Benny Feilhaber, CM, Sporting Kansas City
Previous Ranking: 13
For those of you worried about Benny Feilhaber's stock on this list, have no fear he should be back near the top of the list if he rectifies his form in Week 28.
The Most Valuable Player candidate, who had a disastrous end to August, will have two opportunities to power Sporting Kansas City to three points next week.
Sporting Kansas City's week starts on Wednesday in Portland before they travel to Orlando for the final game of the weekend on Sunday.
15. Kennedy Igboananike, FW, Chicago Fire
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
With David Accam off on international duty with Ghana, Kennedy Igboananike took the reins of the Chicago Fire attack on Saturday and produced a goal and an assist in the 4-3 loss to Montreal.
In the 44th minute of the defeat at Stade Saputo, Igboananike played a thunderous pass across the box to Gilberto, who scored Chicago's second equalizer of the contest.
Fourteen minutes into the second half, the Nigerian rose above a slew of players in the box and headed home Harry Shipp's corner kick to put the Fire in the lead before Didier Drogba took over the match.
Since August 16, Igboananike has scored five of his seven goals and dished out two of his three assists.
14. Lee Nguyen, CM, New England Revolution
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
It took a while for the breakout sensation of the 2014 season to get going this year, but now that Lee Nguyen has found his stride, he is showing no signs of slowing down.
Nguyen had arguably his best match of the season on Saturday night as he handed out a hat-trick of assists in New England's 3-0 win over Orlando.
The three-assist showing finally caught the attention of many, but Nguyen has been heating up for quite some time. Nguyen has played a role in at least one goal in six of the Revolution's last seven games.
13. Shea Salinas, LM, San Jose Earthquakes
Previous Ranking: 10
We expected Shea Salinas to cool off at some point, but we didn't expect his hot spell of form to end against his former club on Saturday night.
Salinas only made two key passes and attempted zero shots in San Jose's surprising 2-1 loss to Philadelphia at Avaya Stadium.
While some of his performance can be blamed on the loss of Godoy and Marc Pelosi to international duty, Salinas does have to take responsibility for being unable to create passing lanes and chances on his own as well.
12. Javier Morales, CAM, Real Salt Lake
Previous Ranking: 11
Following a rough loss to FC Dallas in which Javier Morales missed a penalty, Real Salt Lake had the week off to regroup ahead of their desperate chase for a playoff spot over the final two months of the season.
Getting back into the playoff conversation will not be easy for the Claret and Cobalt, but if they can pull off wins against Houston, LA and San Jose in September, they could make things interesting in October.
11. Ethan Finlay, RM, Columbus Crew
Previous Ranking: 17
Ethan Finlay wasn't able to showcase his scoring ability on Sunday night, but he did impress us with a relentless effort in the Columbus attack.
Finlay was one of the more active players in the final third for the Crew as he made two key passes and fired three shots toward goal.
One has to think Finlay's strong effort will be rewarded more once Kei Kamara returns to the Columbus lineup for the Week 28 clash with Philadelphia at PPL Park.
10. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls
Previous Ranking: 9
Sacha Kljestan and the New York Red Bulls were able to enjoy their Week 26 victory over D.C. for a few more days due to another bye week.
The Red Bulls will resume their quest for the Supporters' Shield on Friday night at home against Chicago.
Jesse Marsch's side has nine games remaining, which is three more than first-place D.C. United. If all goes well for the red-hot Red Bulls, they could contend with the Galaxy, Whitecaps and FC Dallas for the Supporters' Shield.
9. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes
Previous Ranking: 12
Chris Wondolowski did not turn in his best performance of the season on Saturday night, but he was able to find the back of the net from the spot before the Union's comeback.
Wondolowski's 13th goal of the year allowed the Earthquakes to jump in front of the visitors, but a pair of late headers by Conor Casey threw a wrench in San Jose's plan.
Luckily for San Jose, Wondolowski should be able to put it back into the win column in Week 28 since he has scored in two of his last three matches against Saturday's opponent, Seattle.
8. Matt Miazga, CB, New York Red Bulls
Previous Ranking: 7
Most fans of the Red Bulls were grinning over the weekend because their side didn't have to play without Matt Miazga at center back.
When the USMNT U23 international was away at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Red Bulls picked up one point in four games.
Miazga had a solid match for the USMNT U23s against the England U21s on Thursday, but he was overshadowed by center back partner Shane O'Neill.
7. Michael Bradley, CM, Toronto FC
Previous Ranking: 8
No one on the field for Toronto FC on Saturday was fantastic, but Michael Bradley did produce an average shift in the middle of the park in the 2-1 loss to Seattle.
The 28-year-old led the Reds in touches with 88 and key passes with two, but he was unable to make a difference in front of goal without Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco.
Before suiting up for Toronto on Sunday against New England, Bradley will try to help the USMNT get a result against Brazil on Tuesday at Gillette Stadium.
6. Dax McCarty, CM, New York Red Bulls
Previous Ranking: 6
Dax McCarty is one player who many USMNT fans want to see in the red, white and blue, but the failure to secure a Confederations Cup berth at the CONCACAF Gold Cup derailed any potential usage of McCarty on the international level.
Some would think the October 13 match against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena would be a perfect time for McCarty to earn an international appearance, but the Red Bulls play the next day in a crucial Eastern Conference game with Toronto.
5. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC
Previous Ranking: 5
The injury bug struck Sebastian Giovinco at the worst time possible as he sat out Italy's matches with Malta and Bulgaria this week.
"Seba is feeling much better and progressing," Toronto boss Greg Vanney said, per Kurtis Larson of the Toronto Sun.
Sunday's contest with New England will have plenty of playoff implications as the two teams are fighting for the No. 4 position in the Eastern Conference.
4. Kei Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew
Previous Ranking: 4
Kei Kamara's Most Valuable Player stock rose with him out of the Crew lineup in Week 27.
Without the Sierra Leone international in the starting lineup, Gregg Berhalter's side was unable to threaten FC Dallas with most of its 32 crosses.
Kamara will look to score for the first time since August 19 on Saturday, when the Crew visit the Union.
3. David Villa, FW, New York City FC
Previous Ranking: 3
Although many will argue New York City FC's first season in MLS has been a disaster on many levels, David Villa has been able to keep City on the fringe of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference.
The Spaniard has 15 goals and seven assists in 24 matches, and those totals should grow as NYCFC embark on the final two months of the season.
The uphill battle toward the postseason for Jason Kreis' side continues on Saturday at Toyota Stadium against FC Dallas.
2. Bradley Wright-Phillips, FW, New York Red Bulls
Previous Ranking: 2
The other high-scoring forward in the New York area also had the week off to rest his busy legs.
Bradley Wright-Phillips will need to be fresh in front of goal over the next two months if the Red Bulls want a shot at the Supporters' Shield.
The Englishman also has an opportunity to score 20 goals for the second consecutive season. He currently has 13 goals to his name with nine matches remaining.
1. Robbie Keane, FW, LA Galaxy
Previous Ranking: 1
Robbie Keane continued his blazing-hot form across the pond while the LA Galaxy were on a bye week.
Keane scored twice for the Republic of Ireland on Friday in the 4-0 win over Gibraltar in Euro qualifying. On Monday, Keane played 45 minutes in the 1-0 win over Georgia by The Boys in Green.
When he returns to club play on Saturday, Keane will try to score his third brace in four matches for the top side in the Western Conference.
Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.