MLS Player Rankings: Wondolowski, Larin Rise, 7 Players Debut After Week 31

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 6, 2015

MLS Player Rankings: Wondolowski, Larin Rise, 7 Players Debut After Week 31

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    A week after the biggest names in Major League Soccer lit the back of the net on fire, very few came up with goals to start the final month of the regular season.

    Only four of the top-10 players in our MLS Player Rankings were able to score in Week 31. Two of those players were Chris Wondolowski and Cyle Larin. Thanks to their efforts in front of goal, the pair of forwards jumped the most spots this week. 

    Beneath the stars in the top-10 positions, seven new faces added their respective names to the list following a weekend that left few things settled in both playoff races. 

    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 landed where in the latest edition of the MLS Player Rankings.

On the Way out

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    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

    For the first time since Week 2, we took seven players off the list of the top-20 players in MLS. Poor recent performances and the lack of goals from the attackers below forced our hand after Week 31. 

    Players Dropped out of Rankings

    Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution; Previous Ranking: 13) 

    Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls; 14) 

    Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders; 15) 

    Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew; 17)

    Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution; 18) 

    Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC; 19)

    Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo; 20)

20. Kellyn Acosta, CM, FC Dallas

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Sure, Kellyn Acosta scored a nice goal for FC Dallas on Sunday, but we are more impressed with the USMNT Under-20 international's play in front of the back four. 

    Along with Victor Ulloa, Acosta has brought stability to the defensive midfield position for the entire season. 

    Since they ended their three-game losing streak on August 30 against Real Salt Lake, the Hoops have conceded five goals in five matches and recorded 12 points during that span. 

    In order for Acosta and his teammates to stay in the hunt for the Supporters' Shield, they must beat Vancouver on Wednesday in the first of two meetings between the two sides in a week.

19. Jozy Altidore, FW, Toronto FC

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Jozy Altidore has flown under the radar for most of the season at Toronto FC due to the exploits of Sebastian Giovinco up top for the Reds. 

    Despite the lack of attention, Altidore has racked up 12 goals in his first season with Greg Vanney's side. Two of the 12 have come in the last two matches as the USMNT international prepares for the CONCACAF Cup against Mexico on Saturday. 

    Since his benching at the end of August, Altidore has found the back of the net five times in seven contests.

18. Kendall Waston, CB, Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    After a four-week absence, Kendall Waston returns to the top 20 following a strong performance against the Earthquakes on Saturday. 

    Waston made nine clearances and five interceptions while limiting San Jose to three shots on target in the 1-1 draw at Avaya Stadium that hurt the ambitions of both sides involved. 

    In order for the Whitecaps to challenge the Galaxy for the top spot in the Western Conference, Waston must silence Blas Perez and David Texeira in the coming games with FC Dallas. If he can deny the forwards of linking up with passes from Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz, we could see Vancouver near the top of the table. 

17. Fabian Espindola, FW, D.C. United

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Over the last few weeks, Fabian Espindola has made sure 2015 doesn't become a wasted season in his career.

    After finally recovering from an injury that kept him out for most of the summer, the 30-year-old has started to become a force up top for D.C. United as the playoffs inch closer. 

    Espindola helped the Black and Red earn yet another come-from-behind win on Friday with an equalizer in the 73rd minute that was followed by Alvaro Saborio's game-winner. 

    Outside of the tally, Espindola was active in the final third as he took eight attempts, three of which went on target.

16. Omar Gonzalez, CB, LA Galaxy

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    A day after he was left off the CONCACAF Cup roster, Omar Gonzalez shined at center back for the Galaxy in their 1-1 draw with the Sounders. 

    The 26-year-old made 15 clearances, five tackles and four interceptions, but his performance was spoiled by a late Chad Barrett equalizer. 

    With two games left in the season, Gonzalez ranks third in MLS in interceptions per game and 10th in clearances per match. 

15. Tim Melia, GK, Sporting Kansas City

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    Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Tim Melia won't be receiving Christmas cards from anyone in the Portland area this year.

    The Sporting Kansas City netminder dazzled in between the pipes at Providence Park for the second time in three games to keep his side in the match before Krisztian Nemeth scored the game-winner on a brilliant individual goal. 

    On top of making six saves and helping his team stay above the mess near the red line in the Western Conference playoff race, the 29-year-old also earned the only clean sheet of the weekend in MLS. 

    Although he may not win Goalkeeper of the Year due to his 20 matches played, Melia certainly deserves a spot in the discussion after his recent displays.

14. Gilberto, FW, Chicago Fire

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    No matter what he does with the Chicago Fire, Gilberto will be known as the guy the club got instead of Didier Drogba. 

    In the short term, the acquisition of the Brazilian may not be better compared to Montreal's addition of Drogba, but in the long term, the forward's inclusion in the Chicago squad could help the Fire return to relevancy. 

    A week after bagging a brace against his former side Toronto FC, Gilberto scored in the Fire's 3-1 win over New England. 

    If the Fire can build around Gilberto, Harry Shipp and David Accam in attack, the future may be bright as early as next season.

13. Benny Feilhaber, CM, Sporting Kansas City

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    Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 10 

    After playing 120 minutes in the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday night, Benny Feilhaber didn't contribute much to the Sporting KC attack on Saturday in Portland. 

    Feilhaber did make the most touches of any Sporting player with 63, but he failed to fire a shot in the 1-0 victory. 

    After the international break ends, Feilhaber will be asked to break down San Jose's Anibal Godoy in a crucial match at Avaya Stadium on October 16.

12. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Although he picked up an assist in the New York Red Bulls' 2-1 win over Columbus on Saturday, Sacha Kljestan falls four spots due to the production of others ahead of him. 

    The 30-year-old American dished out three key passes, but he was sloppy in the passing department as he only completed 75.4 percent of his 57 attempted passes. 

    The good news for Kljestan and the Red Bulls as a team is they were able to get over the 5-2 loss to Orlando City in Week 30.

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

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Bradley Wright-Phillips found the back of the net for the first time since September 11 on Saturday night in the Red Bulls' 2-1 win over the Crew. 

    The strike ended a three-game goal drought for the 2014 Golden Boot winner, who has 15 tallies to his name in 2015. 

    Wright-Phillips has a chance to play a big role in the Supporters' Shield race over the next two weeks as he will lead the line for the Red Bulls as they make up their games in hand against Montreal and Toronto.

10. Javier Morales, CAM, Real Salt Lake

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    For the first time in a while, Javier Morales was not the catalyst of the Real Salt Lake attack in a victory by Jeff Cassar's squad. 

    In the 2-1 win over Colorado on Sunday, Morales only made one key pass and failed to challenge Clint Irwin in the Colorado net. 

    Although they were able to leave Dick's Sporting Goods Park with three points, the Claret and Cobalt lacked a punch in the final third without a strong contribution from Morales as they attempted just three shots on goal.

9. Obafemi Martins, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Obafemi Martins' five-game scoring run came to an end on Sunday thanks to the defensive performance put in by LA's center backs. 

    The Nigerian forward only took one shot during his 90-minute shift on the turf at CenturyLink Field that didn't help the Sounders at all as plenty of bounces did not go their way. 

    The streak that ended on Sunday was Martins' longest run of goals in consecutive matches since joining Seattle in 2013. 

8. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 16

    Cyle Larin helped keep Orlando City's playoff hopes alive with his 15th goal of the season on Saturday night. 

    The Canada international was one of two scorers for the Lions in the win over Montreal at the Citrus Bowl that moved the club within one point of the Impact. 

    With 15 goals under his belt in his rookie season, an argument can be made that the 20-year-old has been the most productive No. 1 overall pick in his first year in MLS.

7. Robbie Keane, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Robbie Keane used soccer's version of a 'pick six' to put the Galaxy ahead by a goal in the first half against Seattle. 

    Playing on a field marked with football lines, Keane intercepted Zach Scott's errant pass and powered his 17th goal of the season into the back of the net. 

    Although the Sounders leveled the contest in stoppage time through Chad Barrett, the Galaxy still clinched a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs.

6. Michael Bradley, CM, Toronto FC

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Michael Bradley may not have played a role in a Toronto goal on Saturday at BMO Field, but he was able to dictate the pace of the contest against the Philadelphia Union. 

    The central midfielder made 101 touches and completed 88.9 percent of his 81 attempted passes in the 3-1 win that helped the Reds move one step closer to their first-ever playoff berth. 

    One has to wonder if the USMNT win the CONCACAF Cup on Saturday if Bradley will be released back to Toronto for the October 14 tilt with the Red Bulls instead of facing Costa Rica the day before.

5. Didier Drogba, FW, Montreal Impact

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    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Didier Drogba's rapid ascension to the top of the MLS Player Rankings took a hit on Saturday as he sat out the first 59 minutes of Montreal's loss to Orlando City. 

    The scorer of seven goals for the Impact failed to put a shot on target during his substitute appearance on the turf at the Citrus Bowl. 

    While most clubs are enjoying the rest during the international break, Drogba and the Impact will play their two games in hand in the next week against the Red Bulls and Colorado. 

4. Kei Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew

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    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    With Matt Miazga out of the Red Bulls lineup, many thought Kei Kamara would dominate the aerial battle at Red Bull Arena and power home at least one strike. 

    Instead, the Sierra Leone international sent one shot on goal and saw his three-game scoring streak end in the 2-1 loss to the first-place team in the Eastern Conference. 

    Unless he puts in two otherworldly performances in Columbus' last two matches, Kamara will not break the single-season MLS scoring record of 27. He currently has 22 goals.

3. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    With the big names stealing all the headlines, Chris Wondolowski's consistent season in front of net continues to fly under the national radar.

    The USMNT international netted his 16th goal of the year in the Earthquakes' 1-1 draw with Vancouver on Saturday. 

    Since August 19, Wondolowski has scored seven goals in nine matches, including three in his last four. 

2. David Villa, FW, New York City FC

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    There have been very few games this season in which David Villa has not been a consistent scoring threat for New York City FC.

    In NYCFC's loss to D.C. on Friday night, Villa attempted five shots for the 18th time in 2015. However, he was unable to help the expansion side put the game away before United came back and stole three points. 

    With Orlando City and New England left on the schedule, Villa will have to score more than one goal in either game to reach the 20-goal mark in his first MLS season. 

1. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Sebastian Giovinco was one of the few stars on the list to extend his hot form into the final month of the regular season. 

    Giovinco scored the first of three strikes netted by Toronto FC in their 3-1 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday. 

    The tally helped the Atomic Ant pull within one of Kamara in the Golden Boot race. With one more match left than the Columbus player, Giovinco has a good shot of winning the title of league's top scorer with a goal in each of his last three contests.

    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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