MLS Player Rankings: Larin, Diaz Make Big Leaps, 7 Players Enter

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 20, 2015

MLS Player Rankings: Larin, Diaz Make Big Leaps, 7 Players Enter

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    With playoff spots up for grabs across Major League Soccer in Week 33, some of the league's best scorers rose to the occasion and found the back of the net for their respective sides. 

    Sebastian Giovinco, Cyle Larin, Robbie Keane, Obafemi Martins and Fabian Espindola were among the high-profile names who boosted their team with goals in the penultimate week of the regular season. 

    Few players were more impressive than Larin, who scored his 16th and 17th goals of the season for Orlando City on Friday night as the Lions continued their late playoff push. 

    Over in the Western Conference, Mauro Diaz continued to power the FC Dallas attack as he played a major role in both wins by Oscar Pareja's side in Week 33. 

    Due to the massive influence they had on their respective sides, Larin and Diaz were the highest movers in our 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 where Larin, Diaz and the rest of the stars in MLS landed in our list of the league's top 20 in-form players.

On the Way out

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Underwhelming performances of late forced seven players out of the top 20, while the seven who joined the list this week are in strong form entering the postseason. 

    Players Dropped Out of Rankings

    Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City; Previous Ranking: 13)

    Gilberto (Chicago Fire; 14) 

    Tim Melia (Sporting Kansas City; 15) 

    Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy; 16) 

    Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps; 18) 

    Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC; 19)

    Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 20)

20. Javier Morales, CAM, Real Salt Lake

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 10

    Just three weeks ago, things were looking up for Real Salt Lake as they carried a three-game winning streak into the international break. 

    However, that momentum was halted and the Claret and Cobalt are now out of the playoff race entering the final day of the regular season. 

    It comes as no surprise that Javier Morales' personal form has replicated the team's current slide. The engine of the RSL attack hasn't recorded a goal or an assist in the last three contests.

19. Anibal Godoy, CDM, San Jose Earthquakes

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Anibal Godoy played his midfield destroyer role to perfection on Friday night as he disrupted any type of attacking rhythm Sporting Kansas City had. 

    On top of helping shut down the Sporting KC offense, the 25-year-old finished off the lone goal of the match at Avaya Stadium in the 47th minute. 

    San Jose will need the same type of performance out of the Panama international on Decision Day against FC Dallas in order for it to have a chance at clinching a playoff berth.

18. Diego Chara, CDM, Portland Timbers

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    All it took was a formation tweak by manager Caleb Porter to reignite the Portland Timbers heading into the meaningful stretch of the season. 

    Porter switched to a 4-3-3 for the matches against Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy in Week 33, and he reaped the rewards with two victories on the road. 

    Diego Chara thrived as the lone man in front of the back four as he disrupted the standout attackers on both teams.

    To add to his impressive week, the 29-year-old also netted one of Portland's five second-half goals on Sunday at StubHub Center.

17. Ethan Finlay, RM, Columbus Crew

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    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Ethan Finlay put his name on the scoresheet for the first time since September 19 on Saturday as he netted the opener in Columbus' 2-0 road win over Toronto FC. 

    The goal from the 25-year-old as well as the one scored by Federico Higuain helped the Crew secure one of the six playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. 

    In order to earn a bye into the semifinals on Decision Day, the Crew must get more production out of Finlay, who only has two goals in the last four games. While those may seem like strong numbers, the owner of 10 goals and 13 assists in 2015 was in better form earlier in the season.

16. Mike Grella, LM, New York Red Bulls

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Mike Grella started the New York Red Bulls' romp of Philadelphia on Sunday with the fastest goal in league history.

    The 28-year-old winger recorded his eighth goal of the season seven seconds into the contest at Red Bull Arena after he picked up a lazy turnover off the kick off by the Union. 

    Grella went on to score his ninth strike of the year 17 minutes later in the victory that clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference for Jesse Marsch's side. 

    While he may not get the attention others in the Red Bulls lineup have had, Grella has turned himself into one of the most important parts of the club's on-field setup since joining in the offseason.

15. Jesse Gonzalez, GK, FC Dallas

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    The goalkeeper in the best form at the moment plays for the top team in the Western Conference. 

    In the month of October, Jesse Gonzalez has conceded one goal in four matches for first-place FC Dallas. 

    The Mexico under-20 international earned a pair of clean sheets in Week 33 as he made a combined six saves against Vancouver and Real Salt Lake. 

    If his form holds up in the postseason, Oscar Pareja's side could make a run toward the MLS Cup. 

14. Fanendo Adi, FW, Portland Timbers

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    Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Fanendo Adi started the offensive onslaught from the Portland Timbers at StubHub Center on Sunday night. 

    The lanky Nigerian scored after making a brilliant first touch in the 65th minute and then slotted home his second strike from the spot minutes later to hand the Timbers plenty of momentum in their crucial road contest with the Galaxy. 

    Just like the rest of his teammates, Adi is heating up at the right time as he has five goals and one assist in the last four matches. 

13. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Sacha Kljestan was one of many players who helped the Red Bulls dictate the pace of the game on Sunday against the lowly Union.

    The United States international recorded 90 touches and completed 92.2 percent of his 77 passes during his 81-minute shift at Red Bull Arena. 

    The complete all-around performance from the Red Bulls mirrored their conquest of D.C. United at home on August 30. 

    All that's left for Kljestan and the Red Bulls to do in the regular season is clinch the Supporters' Shield, but that task won't be easy as they have to play in Chicago on Decision Day, where they are historically poor. 

12. Michael Bradley, CM, Toronto FC

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    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Michael Bradley returned from a brief injury absence on Saturday, but he was not able to lead Toronto FC to a victory.

    The Reds, who locked up a spot in the postseason on Wednesday with a win over the Red Bulls, were dominated by Columbus at home in a potential playoff preview. 

    Although he was active with 73 touches, Bradley failed to contribute to the Toronto attack in a major way at the weekend.

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

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 17

    Fabian Espindola continued to quietly power D.C. United into the postseason on Sunday with a goal and an assist in the Black and Red's 4-1 win over Chicago. 

    Since he returned to the starting lineup at the end of June, the 30-year-old has brought an added element to the starting 11, and recently, he has found the back of the net more frequently as well. 

    Espindola has scored in each of his last two games, and he must be a key figure on Decision Day against Columbus in order for Ben Olsen's side to clinch second place in the Eastern Conference.

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

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11

    The 2014 Golden Boot winner moved his 2015 scoring total up to 16 on Sunday as he scored one of the Red Bulls goals in the 4-1 home win over Philadelphia. 

    Bradley Wright-Phillips' first-half tally helped him keep pace with the rest of the top scorers in MLS, who all seemed to find the back of the net in Week 33. 

    Against Week 34 opponent Chicago in 2015, Wright-Phillips has scored once off seven shots.

9. Didier Drogba, FW, Montreal Impact

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    Didier Drogba failed to score in a start for Montreal for the first time since September 12 on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

    Despite not finding the back of the net, the Ivorian left New England with a smile on his face as Montreal eked out a 1-0 win on the road against the Revolution. 

    The owner of nine goals in 10 matches will look to get back on track in the Impact's 401 derby clash with Toronto FC on Decision Day that will have a major say in what seed each side gets in the Eastern Conference.

8. David Villa, FW, New York City FC

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    David Villa failed to score in the second consecutive match for New York City FC on Friday night as the expansion side fell 2-1 to Orlando City. 

    For the first time since July 18 against New England, the Spanish legend failed to put a single shot on target. 

    Villa did fire off three shots in the defeat, but none of them tested Tally Hall in the Orlando City net. 

    For NYCFC to play the role of spoiler against New England on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, Villa will have to score his second goal of the season versus the Revolution. 

7. Kei Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew

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    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Kei Kamara didn't play a major role in Columbus' 2-0 win over Toronto, but he was still active in the final third as he searched for his 23rd goal of the season. 

    The Sierra Leone international put one of his three shots on target for the third consecutive match as the Crew locked up at least one home match in the postseason with the victory. 

    In two games against Decision Day opponent D.C. this season, Kamara has one goal to his name. 

6. Obafemi Martins, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Obafemi Martins rescued a point at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday for the Sounders as he netted a late equalizer for the struggling side against Houston Dynamo. 

    While Seattle's form as a whole has been less than stellar recently, the 30-year-old has been consistent in front of the net after scoring in six of the club's last seven matches. 

    Seattle will hope the Nigerian extends his run of form into Sunday as it searches for a playoff spot with a win over Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field.

5. Mauro Diaz, AM, FC Dallas

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    The play of Mauro Diaz is one of the main reasons why FC Dallas has already secured the top spot in the Western Conference ahead of Decision Day. 

    Diaz played a role in all three of FC Dallas' goals in Week 33 as he scored and provided an assist in the 2-0 win over Vancouver and produced an assist in the 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake. 

    With the 24-year-old, who has two goals and three assists in his last four games, in the lineup, FC Dallas looks like a side that can win MLS Cup.

    However, if Diaz goes down at any point during the postseason, Oscar Pareja's side may be set for an early exit.

4. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Chris Wondolowski handed out a rare assist on San Jose's game-winning goal on Friday night at Avaya Stadium.

    The scorer of 16 goals in 2015 turned into a provider as he found Anibal Godoy at the left post with a nice pass across goal. 

    While he is set to earn his highest scoring season since 2012, Wondolowski is also on track to record his lowest number of assists since 2010. His key pass in Week 33 was his first assist of the year. 

3. Robbie Keane, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Robbie Keane scored two high-quality goals on Sunday night, but no one was talking about them after the final whistle blew at StubHub Center. 

    Keane's first brace since August 23 was wasted by the Galaxy as they put in a porous defensive showing over the last 25 minutes in the 5-2 loss to the Timbers. 

    On a personal level, Keane is in fine form with four goals in his last three games. But right now, all that matters to the Republic of Ireland forward is results.

    In order for the Galaxy to clinch a bye into the Western Conference semifinals, they have to beat Sporting Kansas City on Decision Day at Sporting Park. 

2. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    The hottest player in the league at the moment is Orlando City forward Cyle Larin. 

    Larin bagged a brace for the Lions on Friday night against NYCFC to keep his team's bleak playoff hopes alive heading into Decision Day.

    The Canada international, who now has four multi-goal games in his rookie season, has struck the back of the net on six occasions in the last three matches. 

    Given the Red Bulls' offensive onslaught against Philadelphia in Week 33, Larin may have a chance to reach 20 goals on the season against Orlando's Decision Day opponent. 

1. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    It's hard to remove Sebastian Giovinco from the top spot when scores a goal like he did on Wednesday night. 

    Hours after getting off the plane from international duty with Italy, the 28-year-old came off the bench and scored one of the best goals of the season in Toronto's win over the Red Bulls. 

    The goal, which was delivered on a brilliant individual effort by the Italian, was Giovinco's fifth in four matches at that point. 

    However, Giovinco did not have a perfect week as he failed to strike the net for a 23rd time this season on Saturday in the defeat to Columbus. 

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    All statistics obtained from MLSSoccer and WhoScored.