MLS Player Rankings: Kamara Edges out Giovinco for Top Spot After Week 29
Over the course of the 2015 Major League Soccer season, two players have stood out above the rest of the pack: Kei Kamara and Sebastian Giovinco.
Recently, Kamara has dominated the Most Valuable Player conversation with his play up top for the surging Columbus Crew, but Giovinco silenced that with his performance for Toronto FC on Saturday.
Although Giovinco is the clear favorite for the MVP at this point in the year, he is not the player on top of the latest MLS Player Rankings. That title belongs to Kamara for the second-consecutive week as he meets the criteria for our top player more than the Italian at the moment.
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 who ended up beneath Kamara and Giovinco after Week 29 in the our latest MLS Player Rankings.
On the Way out
Due to the stellar performances of the four entrants to this week's rankings, a quartet of players were knocked off the list of the league's top 20 players for Week 29.
Players Dropped out of Rankings
Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution; Previous Ranking: 15)
David Accam (Chicago Fire; 18)
Kennedy Igboananike (Chicago Fire; 19)
Mike Grella (New York Red Bulls; 20)
20. Tranquillo Barnetta, AM, Philadelphia Union
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Tranquillo Barnetta has been a force in the Philadelphia attack since joining the squad at the end of July, but he wasn't able to score his first MLS goal until Sunday.
Barnetta, 30, broke his scoring duck in the third minute as he converted on an assist from Sebastien Le Toux to hand the Union an early lead at PPL Park.
The Switzerland international also earned a secondary assist on C.J. Sapong's second-half goal as he played the original ball into Fabinho, who made the final key pass into the forward.
With the Union still barely alive in the playoff race, Barnetta will need to step up further in order for Jim Curtin's side to be in the mix for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference until the final day of the season.
19. Didier Drogba, FW, Montreal Impact
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
One of the reasons Philadelphia and the other three clubs in chase of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference are still looking up at Montreal is the play of Didier Drogba.
The former Chelsea man made an instant impact on the club's attack and he has continued to thrive in his role up top for the playoff contender.
Drogba, 37, netted his fourth MLS goal on Saturday against New England in the 60th minute and he contributed his first assist as a Montreal player on the final goal of the 3-0 win netted by Dilly Duka.
With key games ahead against Chicago and D.C. United in Week 30, Drogba will need to find the back of the net once again in order to keep Montreal above the group of hovering sides beneath the red line.
18. Clint Dempsey, FW, Seattle Sounders
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Clint Dempsey returns to the list for the first time since Week 16 thanks to his top-notch play in the Seattle attack.
Dempsey, who missed 12 Sounders matches from June to August, handed out two assists in his third start since returning from injury. In the 3-0 win over Vancouver, Dempsey fed Gonzalo Pineda and Obafemi Martins in the 71st and 87th minutes respectively.
The win clinched the Cascadia Cup for the Sounders and, more importantly, it moved them further away from the red line and within striking distance of first-place Vancouver in the Western Conference playoff race.
17. Devon Sandoval, FW, Real Salt Lake
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Devon Sandoval has picked a good pair of matches to finally find his scoring boots.
The Real Salt Lake forward bagged a brace in the Claret and Cobalt's 3-0 win over the LA Galaxy on Saturday night. The two-goal performance came a week after he netted his second tally of the year against Houston. The brace was the first for Sandoval in MLS.
Sandoval, 24, is performing well up top thanks to the creativity flowing in the midfield behind him. Due to Juan Manuel Martinez and Javier Morales' contributions, Sandoval has been able to capitalize on more scoring opportunities than he saw during the first six months of the season.
RSL will need Sandoval to continue his hot streak in front of goal in order to complete the season's most miraculous run into the postseason. Jeff Cassar's side sits three points behind Portland in the race for sixth with five games remaining.
16. Matt Miazga, CB, New York Red Bulls
Previous Ranking: 13
The New York Red Bulls were able to salvage their week-long road trip with a win in Portland on Sunday, but Matt Miazga was overshadowed by his center-back partner Damien Perrinelle in the 2-0 win over the Timbers.
Miazga produced a decent shift at Providence Park with five aerials won and eight clearances, but we also have to take into account the rough outing the Red Bulls defense had on Wednesday against New England.
Miazga, 20, will be involved in a terrific showcase of young talent on Friday, when he faces off against Rookie of the Year frontrunner Cyle Larin and Orlando City at Red Bull Arena.
15. Diego Fagundez, LM, New England Revolution
Previous Ranking: 16
Diego Fagundez and the New England attack started the week off in fine fashion as the Uruguyan netted one of two Revolution goals in the 2-1 win against the Red Bulls. His second-minute strike marked the fourth straight game in which he found the back of the net.
However, the Revolution's hot streak came to a halt on Saturday in Montreal as they dropped a 3-0 result at Stade Saputo.
Fagundez, 20, will not receive much of the blame for the loss since he only featured off the bench for 29 minutes. Due to his lack of time on the pitch versus the Impact, his game against the Red Bulls counted more toward his position on the list this week.
14. Dax McCarty, CM, New York Red Bulls
Previous Ranking: 10
Dax McCarty also had only one game count toward his standing on the list this week. Unfortunately for the Red Bulls captain, he started in Wednesday's awful loss to New England.
To add more misery to his displeasure with the overall team performance, McCarty picked up a suspension for yellow-card accumulation that caused him to miss the trip to Portland on Sunday.
In addition to his yellow card on Wednesday, McCarty only contributed one tackle, one interception and a pass-accuracy percentage of 75.
13. Lee Nguyen, CM, New England Revolution
Previous Ranking: 7
Lee Nguyen's tumble down the list was as quick as his surge into the top six over the last two weeks.
The United States international, who is a part of Jurgen Klinsmann's provisional 35-man roster for the CONCACAF Cup on October 10, failed to create any chances in New England's loss to Montreal.
Nguyen, 28, was shut out in all the major offensive stat categories on Saturday as he didn't take a shot, make a key pass or contribute to a goal.
12. Robbie Keane, FW, LA Galaxy
Previous Ranking: 5
What a difference a few matches make.
Three weeks after placing his name into the MVP conversation, Robbie Keane has been held scoreless for the last three contests.
On top of failing to strike the back of the net, the 35-year-old has only attempted four shots on target during the Galaxy's three-game winless run that has seen them tie with Montreal and lose to San Jose and Real Salt Lake.
11. Michael Bradley, CM, Toronto FC
Previous Ranking: 9
Unlike Toronto FC as a whole, Michael Bradley started off the week strong with an impressive individual outing at Yankee Stadium.
In the 2-0 defeat to New York City FC, Bradley put four of his six shots on goal and dished out three key passes, but the Reds were unable to beat Josh Saunders on Wednesday night.
Toronto found its form on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Colorado, but Bradley didn't have much influence on the final score as he attempted one shot and completed 84.4 percent of his 59 passes.
10. Obafemi Martins, FW, Seattle Sounders
Previous Ranking: 17
Obafemi Martins can't stop scoring at the moment.
The Nigerian forward has struck for a goal in each of his last four games. If you look back further since he returned from injury, the 30-year-old has six strikes in six matches. It comes as no surprise to anyone that the Sounders have only dropped four points during that period.
If he is able to score on four more occasions during the rest of the regular season, Martins will match his goal total from 2014 in 10 less games.
9. Ethan Finlay, RM, Columbus Crew
Previous Ranking: 12
Ethan Finlay moved one step closer to his second straight double-digit goal season on Saturday as he netted the opener for Columbus in the 27th minute of its 2-1 win over D.C. United.
Finlay received a pass in tight space from Tyson Wahl and turned around a defender before slotting home his ninth goal of the year past Bill Hamid.
Finlay, who already has 13 assists in 2015, has four more chances to net his 10th of the season. Another stat that is impressive about the 25-year-old is he has played in all 30 of Columbus' league games.
8. Benny Feilhaber, CM, Sporting Kansas City
Previous Ranking: 14
It was only a matter of time before we saw Benny Feilhaber surge up the list again.
After three weeks outside the top 10, Feilhaber is back inside the top half thanks to a two-goal showing on Friday night in a crucial Western Conference contest with FC Dallas.
Feilhaber scored his ninth tally of the year on a glorious free-kick in the 65th minute before beating Jesse Gonzalez with a spot-kick in the 76th minute for his 10th goal of the season.
Thanks to Feilhaber's second league brace of 2015, Sporting Kansas City distanced itself from Portland in the battle for fifth in the West.
7. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes
Previous Ranking: 11
One of the few bright spots during San Jose's drop off in form over the last month has been the play of Chris Wondolowski.
The United States international continued his climb up the Golden Boot standings in Week 29 with a goal in each of the Earthquakes' two matches.
Unfortunately for the Earthquakes, Wondolowski's goals against Montreal and NYCFC were not enough as they dropped four points at a key juncture of the season.
Since August 19, Wondolowski has scored seven of his 15 goals. His current total is only good enough for his fourth-best season in MLS. The 32-year-old has seasons of 27, 18 and 16 tallies already on his resume.
6. Javier Morales, CAM, Real Salt Lake
Previous Ranking: 8
It turns out missing a penalty in a big game was just the motivation Javier Morales needed to catapult RSL back into the playoff discussion.
In the two matches since missing a key penalty against FC Dallas, Morales has contributed a goal and an assist in the victories over Houston and LA.
On Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, Morales made 93 touches and attempted four shots while building up his chemistry with summer addition Juan Manuel Martinez in the RSL attack.
5. Bradley Wright-Phillips, FW, New York Red Bulls
Previous Ranking: 2
Bradley Wright-Phillips' inefficiency in front of goal combined with high production levels from the players above him forced him down three spots this week.
The scorer of 14 goals in 2015 did not play a major role in either of the Red Bulls' Week 29 matches as he put one shot on target against both New England and Portland Timbers.
If he wants to net 20 strikes for the second consecutive year, Wright-Phillips must a find way to score against Orlando City on Friday.
4. David Villa, FW, New York City FC
Previous Ranking: 6
Powered by the big-name designated players in the starting lineup, New York City FC kept hope alive for a postseason berth in their first season as a MLS franchise.
David Villa did not play in the victory over Toronto on Wednesday, but he did show up in a massive fashion on Saturday versus San Jose with a goal and an assist. Villa's season totals are now up to 16 goals and eight assists.
Although they were able to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race in Week 29, NYCFC will face a much more difficult task in Week 30 as they visit Vancouver.
3. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls
Previous Ranking: 4
It might be time for fans of the United States men's national team to start a campaign to get Sacha Kljestan back into the mix.
Without Dax McCarty in the lineup on Sunday, Kljestan turned in a strong performance in midfield for the Red Bulls with six key passes on 89 touches. The 30-year-old also handed out two key passes in the loss to New England on Wednesday, but his impact was more significant in the victory at Providence Park.
Thanks to the resurgence of Kljestan and many others in the squad, the Red Bulls became the first MLS team to clinch a playoff berth on Sunday.
2. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC
Previous Ranking: 3
Just as he was starting to fade off our radar a bit, Sebastian Giovinco delivered another masterful performance at the top of the Toronto FC attack on Saturday.
The Italian entered the match at BMO Field against Colorado with no goals to his name since August 29. Giovinco ended his scoreless streak in the 14th minute and then proceeded to add a second strike and an assist over the next 26 minutes.
Saturday's brace marked the fifth time this season Giovinco has scored two or more goals in a match. He has three two-goal showings and a pair of hat-tricks to his name.
However, due to his lack of production in the games before the win over Colorado, the 28-year-old remains out of the top spot for now.
1. Kei Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew
Previous Ranking: 1
Kei Kamara followed up his brace at PPL Park in Week 28 with contributions on both of the Crew's goals at RFK Stadium in Week 29.
Kamara started the move that produced Ethan Finlay's 27th-minute strike and then handed Columbus a two-goal advantage with his 21st goal of the season in the 49th minute thanks to a brilliant through ball played into him by Tony Tchani.
Saturday's impressive outing marked the fourth time in 2015 in which Kamara earned a goal and an assist in a single game. The 31-year-old should receive a chance to do that for the fifth time this season when Portland visits Mapfre Stadium on Saturday.
Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.