MLS Player Rankings: Giovinco Goes Top, Drogba Surges

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2015

MLS Player Rankings: Giovinco Goes Top, Drogba Surges

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 30 in Major League Soccer belonged to the designated players. 

    Sebastian Giovinco, Didier Drogba, David Villa, Obafemi Martins, Robbie Keane, Michael Bradley and a few others made a massive impact on their respective matches over the last week. 

    The performances put in by Giovinco and Drogba stood out the most as the Italian made league history with his 20th goal of the season, while the Ivorian's hot start continued Montreal's push toward the playoffs. 

    Due to the dynamic play of the high-priced talents across the league in Week 30, we have plenty of movement throughout the latest MLS Player Rankings. 

    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 else earned a spot on the list of the top-20 players in MLS after Week 30.

On the Way out

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    A lack of playing time, a red card and a failure to score in a crucial game forced these three players out of the top 20 after Week 30. 

    Players Dropped out of Rankings

    Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Previous Ranking: 16) 

    Devon Sandoval (Real Salt Lake; 17)

    Tranquillo Barnetta (Philadelphia Union; 20)

20. Will Bruin, FW, Houston Dynamo

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    Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    To the surprise of many, Houston kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a pair of wins over Sporting Kansas City and Colorado in Week 30. 

    Will Bruin contributed to three of the five strikes netted by the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium this week to keep his side three points out of sixth place in the Western Conference. 

    Bruin's goal in Wednesday's 1-0 win over Sporting KC was his first since August 21 and 11th of the season. He followed that performance up with a pair of assists in the 3-2 victory over Colorado. 

    Plenty of things need to work in Houston's favor for it to slide into the playoffs, but if Bruin heats up again, it will at least remain relevant in the postseason discussion.

19. Andrea Pirlo, CM, New York City FC

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    After a famously brutal start to his MLS career, Andrea Pirlo has taken on more responsibility in recent weeks as New York City FC makes a last-gasp run at the playoffs. 

    Pirlo's top moment of the weekend came in the buildup to Frank Lampard's opener at BC Place as the Italian played a perfect ball out to Angelino on the left wing before the defender found Lampard in front of the net. 

    The 36-year-old defensive midfielder controlled the pace of the game by making a match high 97 touches and distributing four key passes. 

    NYCFC may be too far behind Montreal to clinch a playoff spot this season, but if Pirlo and Lampard continue to play well in October, a solid foundation will be set for the club's second season.

18. Diego Fagundez, LM, New England Revolution

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    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 15

    A week after his four-game scoring streak was broken, Diego Fagundez came up short in the goal department once again for the New England Revolution.

    The 20-year-old only fired one shot on target against a resilient Philadelphia side that held the Revs to a 1-1 draw at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. 

    To keep a spot on this list after Week 31's matches, Fagundez will have to be a force in attack on the road against the Fire on Saturday.

17. Ethan Finlay, RM, Columbus Crew

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    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Ethan Finlay produced one of the poorest shifts of anyone in the top 20 in Week 30 in Columbus' 2-1 home loss to Portland. 

    In his 64-minute shift on the right wing for the Crew, Finlay made only 15 touches and one key pass before he made way for Cedrick Mabwati. 

    The performance was one of the worst of Finlay's season and it came at the worst possible time for Crew, who dropped a crucial result at home a day after the New York Red Bulls fell in a stunner at home to Orlando City. 

16. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Cyle Larin broke the single-season rookie scoring record with his first of three strikes for Orlando City in the 5-2 win over the Red Bulls on Friday night. 

    The hat-trick was the second of the season for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. It was also his third multi-goal match of the year since the 20-year-old bagged a brace against Columbus in the contest after his July 26 hat-trick against NYCFC. 

    Now that the milestone isn't hovering over his head anymore, Larin should be able to play with a bit more relaxation up top as the Lions look to spoil Montreal's playoff chances in the race for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. 

15. Clint Dempsey, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 18

    Against a depleted Sporting Kansas City lineup, Clint Dempsey was active in the final third for Seattle despite not finding the back of the net. 

    Dempsey recorded his highest shot total since returning to the Seattle lineup as he took five attempts in the Sounders' 1-1 draw at Sporting Park on Sunday. 

    The 32-year-old United States international will be asked to raise his game higher in Week 31 as the LA Galaxy come to CenturyLink Field for a star-studded Western Conference showdown.

14. Dax McCarty, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Yes, Dax McCarty did score a rare goal for the Red Bulls on Friday night, but that was the only positive he could take from the 5-2 drubbing handed to his side by Orlando City. 

    The space between the holding midfielder and the back four was exploited on numerous occasions by Larin, Kaka and Carlos Rivas in the shocking defeat. 

    Despite being outworked by the visiting Lions as a team, McCarty still had a decent day with 98 touches and two key passes. And since this is a list that judges individual performance, McCarty remains at No. 14 for another week.

13. Lee Nguyen, CM, New England Revolution

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    Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Before the Andre Blake show took over Gillette Stadium on Saturday night, Lee Nguyen earned a penalty and beat the Philadelphia goalkeeper from the spot to hand New England an one-goal advantage. 

    Nguyen tied Kelyn Rowe for the most shots taken by a Revolution player in the 1-1 draw with four, but it wasn't good enough to beat Blake, who put together a masterful performance in net in the second half. 

    Although New England actually gained ground on the Red Bulls and Columbus in the Eastern Conference playoff race in Week 30, the draw at home against a weakened Philadelphia side will still be seen as a disappointment in the eyes of the New England players. 

12. Bradley Wright-Phillips, FW, New York Red Bulls

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    Bradley Wright-Phillips came up empty in front of goal for the third straight match on Friday. 

    The 2014 Golden Boot leader seemed ready to challenge for the first-ever back-to-back 20-goal seasons in MLS a few weeks ago, but his form stalled in September. 

    Wright-Phillips now needs to score six times in the last five games of the season to etch his name into the league record book. 

11. Robbie Keane, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Robbie Keane finally broke his scoring drought on Sunday in LA's 3-2 win over fellow Supporters' Shield contender FC Dallas. 

    Three minutes after earning an assist on Giovani Dos Santos' opener, Keane put the Galaxy ahead by two goals with a 14th-minute tally that ended his 292-minute scoreless streak. 

    Keane and the rest of the Galaxy attack need to stand out for the second consecutive week in Week 31 if they are to remain atop the Western Conference and Supporters' Shield races with a road victory in Seattle. 

10. Benny Feilhaber, CM, Sporting Kansas City

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    Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    With the U.S. Open Cup final on the horizon, Sporting Kansas City boss Peter Vermes benched most of his starters, including Benny Feilhaber, for Sunday's home match against Seattle. 

    The benching was a rare occurrence for the Most Valuable Player award contender, who missed one other game in 2015 due to a red card. 

9. Michael Bradley, CM, Toronto FC

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Michael Bradley and his Toronto FC teammates started the big weekend for designated players as he, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore all found the back of the net in the Reds' 3-2 win over Chicago. 

    The 28-year-old United States international leveled the match in the 59th minute with his fifth strike of the season before Altidore completed the comeback in the 79th minute. 

    In Toronto's 13th victory of the year, Bradley and his central-midfield partner Benoit Cheyrou combined for 187 touches, which was more than the top three players on the Chicago stat sheet recorded. 

8. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Sacha Kljestan's two-week run in the top five ended this week thanks to the dominant showing put in by Orlando City at Red Bull Arena. 

    In his team's ninth defeat of 2015, Kljestan was unable to create anything in attack as he ended the match with zero shots and zero key passes. 

    Kljestan will try to get back on track in Week 31 against Columbus' pair of Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani, who will be looking to recover from a rough home loss in Week 30 as well. 

7. Javier Morales, CAM, Real Salt Lake

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    The Real Salt Lake attack suffered a major blow in Week 30 as Javier Morales missed out on the vital clash with San Jose due to a hip flexor injury, per Kyle McCarthy of Fox Sports. 

    Morales, who helped spur a comeback in the CONCACAF Champions League against Santa Tecla on Thursday, was missed greatly by his teammates, who only put one shot on goal in his absence. 

    The 1-0 loss to San Jose damaged any hope the Claret and Cobalt had of making the playoffs as they now sit six points behind Portland with four games remaining. 

6. Obafemi Martins, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 10

    For the fifth match in a row and sixth time in seven games, Obafemi Martins found his name on the scoresheet at the end of a Seattle Sounders contest. 

    Martins tallied his 14th goal of the season in the 32nd minute of Seattle's 1-1 road draw with Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. 

    In any other season, Martins probably would be receiving a ton of attention for his form, but there are a few other foreign imports above him on the list that have stolen all the headlines recently. 

5. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Chris Wondolowski did not extend his scoring streak to three matches, but he was active up top in San Jose's win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday. 

    The 32-year-old placed three of his five shots on target to record his highest total in that category since May 16 against Columbus. Since May 16, Wondolowski has scored nine goals on 22 shots on target. 

    In two matches against Week 31 opponent Vancouver this season, Wondolowski has one shot in 134 minutes. 

4. Didier Drogba, FW, Montreal Impact

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 19

    Didier Drogba exuded nothing but pure class in Week 30 as he helped Montreal remain the favorite to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

    Drogba opened his Week 30 account in the 39th minute of the Impact's 2-1 win on Wednesday over the Fire, but his standout performance of the weekend came on Saturday versus D.C. United. 

    The former Chelsea man bagged a brace in 11 minutes as Montreal cruised to a 2-0 victory over the demoralized Black and Red. 

    Since debuting on August 22, Drogba has seven goals and one assist in six matches. 

3. Kei Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew

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    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    The Golden Boot leader did extend his career high in scoring to 22 on Saturday, but he was not as influential in attack as the two players above him this week. 

    Kei Kamara netted his 22nd goal of the season on a near-post header off a Federico Higuain corner late in the first half at Mapfre Stadium to put the Crew on level terms with Portland. 

    However, the goal would end up being the only shot on goal recorded by Kamara, who was limited to 29 touches in the 2-1 loss to the Timbers. 

2. David Villa, FW, New York City FC

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    David Villa powered the NYCFC attack in the surprising 2-1 win over Vancouver at BC Place on Saturday night. 

    Villa netted his 17th goal of the season in the 94th minute of the match that witnessed a pair of controversial penalty calls. Amid the controversy, the former Barcelona man scored the game-winning goal for Jason Kreis' side. 

    The 33-year-old Spaniard put four of his five attempts on target and combined well throughout the contest with his fellow designated players Pirlo and Lampard. 

1. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    It took a little longer than expected, but Sebastian Giovinco finally crossed the 20-goal, 10-assist threshold in Week 30.

    Originally, Giovinco's 29th-minute strike was credited to Jonathan Osorio, but a day after the match, the league awarded the goal to the Atomic Ant, per Toronto FC's official Twitter account. 

    After he was handed credit for the first Toronto goal on Saturday at BMO Field, Giovinco became the first player in league history to record 20 goals and 10 assists in a single season. He also earned his 15th assist of the year in Toronto's come-from-behind win over Chicago. 

    Although he has been dominant on the pitch this season, the MVP favorite may not win the Golden Boot or earn the title of league's top assister. Currently, Kamara leads the Italian by two goals, while three players sit within two of Giovinco's assist lead of 15. 

    Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    All statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com and WhoScored.com

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