Ranking the Top 50 Players in MLS in 2015

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 10, 2015

Ranking the Top 50 Players in MLS in 2015

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    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Major League Soccer's 20th season was its best to date thanks to the quality of the star players spread across the 20 clubs. 

    Stars like Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa, Kaka, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and more entered the league to much fanfare, but there were also plenty of American products who delivered for their respective clubs. 

    Our list of the top 50 players from the 2015 season features stars from 19 of the 20 sides in the league. The Colorado Rapids were the lone team not to have anyone make the list. The New York Red Bulls led all teams with seven players, while FC Dallas, Vancouver and Portland all put four names in rankings. The balance of power between the conferences was level as well with 26 representing the Eastern Conference and 24 for the Western Conference. 

    We selected the 50 players by their numbers in key statistical categories, influence on the pitch and form throughout the season. Certain players were penalized for long dips in form during the regular season. For those eligible for the postseason, playoff performances were considered, but they weren't a major factor. 

    Continue reading on to see who were the best 50 players in MLS in 2015. 

Honorable Mention

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    This group of players barely missed out on the top 50 due to a litany of reasons. Some of the attackers below contributed to their respective sides, but not on as much of a regular basis as others who made the list. Injuries and lack of strength at certain positions across the league also cost some of these players a place among the top 50. 

    Honorable Mention

    Tim Melia (GK, Sporting Kansas City) 

    David Bingham (GK, San Jose Earthquakes) 

    Waylon Francis (LB, Columbus Crew) 

    Juninho (CM, LA Galaxy) 

    Wil Trapp (CDM, Columbus Crew) 

    Scott Caldwell (CDM, New England Revolution) 

    Darwin Ceren (CDM, Orlando City) 

    Graham Zusi (AM, Sporting Kansas City) 

    Sebastien Le Toux (AM, Philadelphia Union) 

    Giles Barnes (FW, Houston Dynamo) 

50. Matias Laba, CDM, Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Matias Laba continues to be one of the most underrated players in all of MLS. 

    The 23-year-old Argentinian defensive midfielder helped the Whitecaps earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with his strong play in front of the back four. 

    Laba led the league in tackles per game with five and recorded 2.7 interceptions per contest. Laba also attempted 45.5 passes per match and completed 82.6 percent of them. 

    With Laba as the backbone of the midfield, the Whitecaps should be able to build on their success from 2015 under manager Carl Robinson. 

49. Tyrone Mears, RB, Seattle Sounders

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    Tyrone Mears didn't put up any out-of-this-world statistics on the right flank of the Seattle Sounders defense, but he was able to put in plenty of reliable shifts for Sigi Schmid's side. 

    Mears was never going to have the impact moving forward than his predecessor DeAndre Yedlin had, but he was able to solidify the Seattle back four that experienced plenty of issues in 2014. 

    In 36 league matches, Mears recorded two tackles and 1.8 interceptions per contest as Seattle conceded 36 goals. The total number of goals let in by the Sounders tied the Whitecaps for the best defensive record in the regular season. 

48. Octavio Rivero, FW, Vancouver Whitecaps

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    During the first two months of the season, Vancouver looked to have the striker it was missing in 2014. 

    Octavio Rivero got off to a fantastic start in his first MLS season by finding the back of the net in five of his first six matches. However, the Uruguayan's form stalled and he scored a quintet of strikes from April 11 until the end of the regular season. 

    The final five goals of Rivero's first MLS campaign were spread out across months, as he experienced a few lengthy scoring droughts. Rivero did put a ton of effort into scoring by recording 101 shots, but only 41 of them went on target. 

    In order for the Whitecaps to get over the hump and be in the running for MLS Cup in November next season, Rivero must be more consistent up top. 

47. Victor Ulloa, CDM, FC Dallas

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    Victor Ulloa was one of many young stars who flourished under the direction of manager Oscar Pareja in 2015 at FC Dallas. 

    Paired next to fellow youngster Kellyn Acosta, the 23-year-old Ulloa helped form a defensive fortress in front of the FC Dallas back four. 

    In 37 regular season and postseason matches, Ulloa averaged 2.9 interceptions and 1.9 tackles per game for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. 

    As players like Ulloa continue to grow into their respective games, FC Dallas should develop into a consistent contender at the top of the West for years to come. 

46. Alvas Powell, RB, Portland Timbers

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    Alvas Powell was one of two young full backs to come into their own for Caleb Porter's Portland Timbers this season. 

    The 21-year-old Jamaica international, who should be a consistent member of the Reggae Boyz squad in the future, finished third in the league in tackles per game with 3.9. He also recorded 3.5 interceptions per contest for the Western Conference champions. 

    While many may think of full back as a weak position across MLS, Powell was one of the players who helped break that stigma over the last nine months. 

45. Charlie Davies, FW, New England Revolution

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    Charlie Davies extended his breakout performance from the 2014 postseason in the 2015 regular season as he scored 10 goals for the New England Revolution. 

    The highlight of Davies' season was his four-game scoring run in April and May. During the hot run of form, Davies scored against Philadelphia, Real Salt Lake, the Red Bulls and Orlando City. 

    Despite a drop in production toward the end of the regular season, Davies continued to earn starts at the top of the Revolution attack. 

    Unfortunately for Davies, he was unable to replicate his postseason form from 2014 as he was benched for the knockout-round loss to D.C. United. 

44. Federico Higuain, CAM, Columbus Crew

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    Due to the success of others in the Columbus attack, Federico Higuain flew under the radar this season with his production in the final third. 

    The engine of the Crew attack ended the regular season with eight goals and nine assists, including one each in the big 2-0 win over Toronto FC in the penultimate week of the season. 

    Higuain continued his impressive year in the postseason with a goal and an assist during Columbus' run to MLS Cup. 

    With Higuain, Ethan Finlay, Kei Kamara and Justin Meram as the front four, Columbus should be set for a prolonged period of success under manager Gregg Berhalter. 

43. Chris Rolfe, AM, D.C. United

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    There are probably some Chicago Fire fans still lamenting the trade of Chris Rolfe to D.C. United in April 2014. Since joining the Black and Red, Rolfe has been one of the most reliable players in the D.C. attack. 

    A year after posting six goals and six assists, Rolfe produced 10 goals and four assists during a rollercoaster season for Ben Olsen's side. 

    Rolfe's best scoring stretch came in April and May as he found the back of the net in three of five matches against Houston, Vancouver and Orlando City. 

    The midfielder's form mirrored his club's lack of success toward the end of the season as he netted one tally in his final nine contests. D.C. only won twice during that span. 

42. Kendall Waston, CB, Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Few teams relied on a defender like the Whitecaps did with Kendall Waston in 2015. 

    The towering Costa Rican was a force at center back for Vancouver as it conceded just 36 goals in 34 regular-season games. 

    Over 2,666 minutes this season, Waston made 6.8 clearances and 4.2 interceptions per match for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. 

    However, the one knock on Waston was his disciplinary record. He picked up 10 yellow cards and one red in his first full season in MLS. 

41. Jozy Altidore, FW, Toronto FC

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    Jozy Altidore entered the 2015 season with plenty of fanfare as he returned to MLS from a putrid spell at Sunderland. 

    The United States international began his first season in Toronto with a bang as he bagged a brace in the season opener on March 7 against Vancouver. 

    Altidore recorded three braces in 25 matches and he concluded the regular season with strikes in three of his last four games. 

    Despite finding the back of the net on 13 occasions, Altidore missed a good number of matches and had spells of inconsistency that cost him a higher position on the list. 

40. Matt Besler, CB, Sporting Kansas City

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    Many people wondered how Matt Besler would respond to his poor end to the 2014 campaign in 2015. 

    With plenty of new center back partners next to him, Besler matured and produced one of his best seasons in a Sporting Kansas City uniform. 

    Besler, who lost his regular partner Aurelien Collin to Orlando City and Ike Opara to a season-ending injury early in the season, helped mold the back line full of rookies and role players into a functional defense for Peter Vermes' side. 

    Thanks to his resurgence in form, Besler regained his starting position on the United States men's national team after the CONCACAF Gold Cup. 

39. Michael Bradley, CM, Toronto FC

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    The second member of Toronto FC's designated player trio to make the top 50 had an up and down season for the Reds. 

    Michael Bradley started the season fine, but after his return from the Gold Cup, he suffered from injuries and never found a true rhythm in the Toronto midfield. 

    One of Bradley's best matches of the year came on August 22 as he dished out three assists in a 5-0 victory over Orlando City at BMO Field. 

    Although there were some promising signs of the big three in the Toronto attack combining well, they ultimately failed as the Reds lost in their knockout-round match to Montreal in the playoffs. 

    However, the good news Toronto can take from the season is it clinched its first-ever playoff berth. Now the Reds must find consistency in every aspect of the game in order to become a serious MLS Cup contender. 

38. Lee Nguyen, CM, New England Revolution

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    It took quite some time for Lee Nguyen to get going after his breakout year in 2014 for the New England Revolution.

    In his first 14 games, Nguyen recorded one goal and two assists while the Revolution came out victorious on six occasions during that span. 

    Once spring turned to summer, Nguyen began to heat up in the Revolution attack. Starting with an assist in a 2-1 loss to D.C. on June 21, the United States international had four goals and three assists over nine matches. 

    Nguyen ended the season with seven goals and 10 assists, but he was unable to lead New England back to MLS Cup as it fell in the knockout round to D.C. 

37. Will Bruin, FW, Houston Dynamo

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    When the season began, few people expected Will Bruin to be a key contributor in the Houston attack with Giles Barnes in the fold and Erick "Cubo" Torres arriving in the summer. 

    By the end of the 2015 campaign, Bruin had four more goals than Barnes and the two along with poor form from Torres kept the former Chivas USA man out of the lineup. 

    Bruin scored his first goal of the season in his third start on April 25 against Sporting Kansas City. In the seven matches after that, Bruin scored on six occasions, including a pair of two-goal games versus Portland and the New York Red Bulls. 

    The 26-year-old forward completed the season with 11 goals on 25 attempts on target and four assists. 

36. Kaka, AM, Orlando City

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    Kaka entered MLS with plenty of fanfare and he delivered in his first-career match for Orlando City as he scored the franchise's first-ever tally in league play. 

    From May 17 to July 4, the Brazilian playmaker struck the back of the net six times in eight matches. 

    Unfortunately for the former Ballon d'Or winner, the goals began to dry up after the Fourth of July. In his final 10 contests of the season, Kaka only contributed to the scoresheet with five assists. 

    Because of the lack of form and injuries he suffered from over the final four months of the regular season, Kaka is lower on the list than some of the other superstars in MLS. 

35. Omar Gonzalez, CB, LA Galaxy

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    The LA Galaxy aren't primarily known for their defensive abilities, but Omar Gonzalez turned in yet another solid season at center back for Bruce Arena's side. 

    Gonzalez finished first in interceptions per game with 5.9. His partner in defense Leonardo came in second with 5.3. The United States international also ended up in the top 10 in clearances per game, with 5.9. 

    Despite his strong numbers in some of the key defensive stat categories, the Galaxy still allowed 46 goals in 34 regular-season games, including five to Portland in the penultimate game of the season. 

    But Gonzalez wasn't the only Galaxy player whose formed dipped near the end of the regular season. LA only scored eight goals while earning two wins, three losses and one draw in its last six matches. 

34. David Accam, FW, Chicago Fire

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    Since the designated player rule was instituted, the Chicago Fire have seen little production out of their high-priced players. 

    David Accam helped reverse that negative stigma in 2015 as he recorded 10 goals and two assists in 24 matches. 

    The impressive season from the Ghana international was one of the few positives Fire fans could take away from a year in which the club's struggles on the pitch continued. 

    Accam and the Fire will look to change that in 2016 as new leadership has been brought in to fix the problems that have faced the franchise for a few seasons. 

33. Chris Tierney, LB, New England Revolution

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    Chris Tierney is the perfect example of an underrated player in MLS who usually doesn't receive much love for his play. 

    The New England left back was one of the best players at his position in 2015. The 29-year-old helped debunk the myth that there aren't strong full backs in the league. 

    Tierney may not have a ton of big numbers to back him up statistically, but he was widely seen as one of the most consistent defenders during the regular season. 

    In his eighth season with the Revolution, Tierney also earned a career high in assists with six

32. Darlington Nagbe, AM, Portland Timbers

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    Darlington Nagbe's name was in headlines for the majority of the season as he inched closer to gaining citizenship and his first cap for the United States men's national team. 

    Nagbe was a solid force in the Portland Timbers attack for most of the season, but he failed to produce the numbers most expected out of him. 

    The 25-year-old midfielder had to wait until June 28 against Seattle for his first strike of the season. He also earned an assist in the 4-1 victory. 

    Although he had five goals and five assists in the regular season, Nagbe's stock rose significantly near the end of the regular season as Portland started its surge toward MLS Cup. Because of the massive impact he had on the playoff run, Nagbe is higher up than a few double-digit scorers. 

31. Lloyd Sam, RM, New York Red Bulls

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    The first of seven New York Red Bulls to feature on this list is a player whose production flew under the radar for most of the 2015 season. 

    In his fourth year playing with the Red Bulls, Lloyd Sam notched his MLS high of 10 goals and came two assists shy of matching his total of nine from 2014. 

    Sam started the year strong with three goals in his first four games and he replicated that streak during the stretch run of the regular season. 

    The presence of the 31-year-old on the right wing helped the Red Bulls spread out opposing defenses and create more space for Bradley Wright-Phillips and others in the final third. 

    Thanks to the success of Sam and countless others, the Red Bulls secured their second Supporters' Shield in three seasons and their first under new boss Jesse Marsch. 

30. Dom Dwyer, FW, Sporting Kansas City

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    Following up a 22-goal season in which he became one of the stars of the league was never going to be an easy task for Dom Dwyer. 

    Dwyer didn't have many otherworldly performances in 2015 like the other forwards higher up this list, but he did turn in a solid season in which he netted 12 goals in 30 games. 

    All 12 of Dwyer's strikes came in 12 different matches, including two different scoring streaks where he found the back of the net in three of four contests. 

    Dwyer also helped Sporting Kansas City hoist the U.S. Open Cup in September with a win on penalties over the Philadelphia Union. 

29. Luis Robles, GK, New York Red Bulls

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    Depending on who you ask, Luis Robles was more than deserving or nowhere close to being worthy of winning the Goalkeeper of the Year award. 

    In our eyes, the 31-year-old New York Red Bulls goalkeeper was the third best netminder in MLS in 2015. Although he upped his shutout total by three to nine this season, Robles made 25 less saves than he did a year ago. 

    The main reasons for the lack of saves were the strong defensive performances put in by the Red Bulls and the new system instilled by Marsch that relied on heavy pressure from the midfielders. 

    Because the Red Bulls controlled more games than they did in 2014, Robles was not as active as the other goalkeepers in MLS were in 2015. 

28. Laurent Ciman, CB, Montreal Impact

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    Before some guy named Didier Drogba entered the fray in Montreal, Laurent Ciman was seen as the club's best signing in 2015. 

    The Belgian defender brought a good amount of stability to the Impact back four and the results showed as they conceded the second fewest goals in the Eastern Conference with 44

    The play of the 30-year-old certainly helped Montreal revive its MLS Cup chances late in the season as it rose to third place in the East under then-interim boss Mauro Biello.

    However, the one big flaw in Ciman's game that cost him a lower spot on the list than some thought he'd receive is his three red cards

27. Matt Hedges, CB, FC Dallas

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    The achievements earned by Matt Hedges during his fourth season with FC Dallas were overshadowed by the flashy players in the club's attack. 

    But when it came time for the end of the year awards to be handed out, Hedges received plenty of recognition as he was named to the MLS Best XI along with two other center backs. 

    Hedges was more than deserving of the Best XI nod as he helped FC Dallas earn the second-best defensive record in the league. FC Dallas tied Portland and San Jose with 39 goals against. Only Seattle and Vancouver recorded less, both had 36. 

    With a strong season under his belt,  Hedges should have his sights set on the United States men's national team. If everything goes as expected, the 25-year-old will be a part of Jurgen Klinsmann's January camp. 

26. Krisztian Nemeth, FW, Sporting Kansas City

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    Krisztian Nemeth became the latest European player to revive his career in MLS as he recorded 10 goals and six assists for Sporting Kansas City in 28 matches. 

    The former Liverpool youth product caught the league by storm early in the season as became the first player in MLS history to score on his first seven shots on goal. Nemeth broke the record with a goal in Sporting KC's 2-0 win over Colorado on June 27. 

    Nemeth ended the year with 10 goals on 20 attempts on targets, which is still pretty efficient for a forward. Thanks to his high production levels in MLS, Nemeth earned a return call-up to the Hungary squad for the end of UEFA Euro qualifying, where he scored twice against Greece on October 11. 

25. Felipe, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    A reunion with former boss Jesse Marsch helped Felipe play his way to a career year with the New York Red Bulls. 

    The underrated member of the club's central midfield trio did a majority of the dirty work required in Marsch's high-press system to create opportunities for the other talented players in the Red Bulls attack. 

    The 25-year-old former Montreal Impact man was active on the ball for most of the season as he completed 81.2 percent of his 54.9 passes per contest. 

    Felipe also contributed a bit in the final third as he produced three goals and five assists for the Supporters' Shield winners. 

24. Didier Drogba, FW, Montreal Impact

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    Yes, Didier Drogba was extremely successful in 2015 with the Montreal Impact, but he only played in 14 total games for the Canadian side. 

    The only reason Drogba is so high on this list as a midseason signing is his scoring prowess. In those 14 matches in the regular season and playoffs, Drogba found the back of the net on 10 occasions. 

    Drogba's impressive performance at forward combined with the renewed energy brought to the squad by Frank Klopas' firing helped the Impact make a surge into the postseason as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

    If his brief set of appearances in 2015 are any indication of how Drogba will perform over a full 34-match program, he could make a run at the single-season scoring record of 27. 

23. Javier Morales, CAM, Real Salt Lake

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    No matter how dire the situation got at Real Salt Lake, Javier Morales continued to shine in the final third for the Claret and Cobalt. 

    During RSL's rare bad season, which saw them finish ninth in the Western Conference, Morales turned out eight goals and 12 assists in 26 matches.

    Despite playing his fewest number of games since 2010, the 35-year-old Argentinian playmaker tied his second-highest total in assists and came one goal short of equaling his highest total since joining RSL in 2007. 

    While we are expecting plenty of change within the organization over the offseason, Morales should remain as one of the few constants in the squad. Based off his extended run of production, Morales could experience another superb season in 2016. 

22. Cristian Maidana, AM, Philadelphia Union

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    Among all the chaos surrounding the Philadelphia Union in 2015, Cristian Maidana found a way to finish second on the league assist chart with 15.

    The 28-year-old Argentinian had two performances that stood out the most during his 28 matches for the ninth-place team in the Eastern Conference. On July 11 against Portland and on August 16 versus Chicago, Maidana dished out a trio of assists. 

    Unfortunately for Maidana, he only handed out one assist in six games after his second three-assist outing. He also failed to make an impact up top in the team's loss on penalties to Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup final. 

21. Ignacio Piatti, CAM, Montreal Impact

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    An argument can be made that even with the success of Drogba in a short time Ignacio Piatti was the best attacker in the Montreal lineup this season 

    In first full year as an Impact player, Piatti scored nine times and contributed eight assists in 26 contests. Unlike some of the other players on this list, Piatti had a strong start and finish to the regular season. In August, September and October, Piatti played a role in six of Montreal's 17 strikes. 

    During Montreal's surprising march to MLS Cup, which ended in Columbus after a defeat in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal, Piatti contributed a goal and an assist in three games. 

    If the 30-year-old creative midfielder and Drogba stay healthy for the entire 2016 campaign, the Impact could be one of the most exciting teams to watch in MLS. 

20. Bill Hamid, GK, D.C. United

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    Bill Hamid continued to prove in 2015 that he is the top American goalkeeper behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. In the minds of some, the D.C. United goalkeeper should be higher on the United States depth chart than the two veterans. 

    Hamid's best performances came in the postseason as he somehow kept a hapless D.C. United side in the Eastern Conference semifinal until the final minutes of the second leg against the Red Bulls. 

    The 15 playoff saves made by the 25-year-old added to his regular season total of 101, which he recorded in 25 matches. 

    In the nine contests Hamid missed, the Black and Red dropped 13 points and failed to earn a clean sheet. 

19. Matt Miazga, CB, New York Red Bulls

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    While we're on the topic of the future of the USMNT, Matt Miazga established himself as one of the best young American players in 2015 at center back for the Red Bulls. 

    Miazga jumped onto the scene at the start of the season as the Red Bulls went unbeaten through the first two months. 

    But the team's form dropped off once Miazga left to play for the United States at the U20 World Cup. In the six games Miazga did not start due to international duty, the Red Bulls took three points. When the 20-year-old returned to the starting 11, the Red Bulls began to pick up momentum on their way to the Supporters' Shield. 

    Miazga was rewarded for his stellar play at the back with a call-up and his first appearance for the Yanks against St. Vincent and the Grenadines in November. 

18. Clint Dempsey, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Finding a perfect place for Clint Dempsey on this list was not an easy task. 

    Dempsey only featured in 20 matches for the Seattle Sounders due to international commitments, injuries and a suspension for an incident in the U.S. Open Cup. However, the 32-year-old was extremely productive when he was on the pitch during his second full season in the Pacific Northwest. 

    In those 20 games, Dempsey totaled 10 goals and 10 assists. Although he didn't contribute to a strike in every contest, the forward averaged a goal and assist in every two games. 

    Dempsey bookended his season with a pair of two goal, one assist showings for Seattle against New England and Real Salt Lake. 

    We ultimately opted to put Dempsey this high on the list because he was one of four players in MLS to hit double digits in goals and assists during the regular season. 

17. Nat Borchers, CB, Portland Timbers

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    The Portland Timbers turned heads at the start of the offseason as they acquired Nat Borchers from Real Salt Lake. 

    The investment in the center back paid off close to one year after the deal as Borchers lifted MLS Cup with his teammates after a 2-1 win over the Crew. 

    Before Portland had a chance to celebrate a berth in MLS Cup, Borchers made a key block late in the second half of the second leg of the Western Conference Final to preserve Portland's lead over FC Dallas. 

    Thanks to the superb play of Borchers and the other members of the Timbers back four, the MLS Cup champions had the league's best road record in 2015, which included their victory in the championship match. 

16. David Ousted, GK, Vancouver Whitecaps

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    There were three candidates for Goalkeeper of the Year and in our eyes David Ousted should have won the award. 

    As was the case with other players in the Vancouver squad, Ousted was overlooked throughout the regular season due to the club's lack of exposure across the continent. 

    Ousted tied Portland's Adam Kwarasey for the most shutouts with 13 and he had a 1.06 goals against average over 34 matches. 

    The 36 goals allowed by the Danish netminder helped Vancouver achieve the best defensive record in the league alongside rival Seattle, who also let in just 36 tallies. 

15. Obafemi Martins, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Dempsey wasn't the only superstar in the Seattle attack who missed a significant chunk of time in 2015. 

    But just like his strike partner, Obafemi Martins found the back of the net at a ridiculous rate to keep Sigi Schmid's side in the playoff discussion. 

    After a two-month break due to injury, Martins returned on August 16 with a brace in the Sounders' 4-0 win over Orlando City. The Nigerian forward went on to finish the regular season with six goals and two assists in his final nine matches. 

    The hot streak to conclude the regular season put Martins' season totals at 15 goals and six assists. Martins scored those goals on just 28 attempts on target. 

14. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City

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    We've already talked about how the future is bright for the USMNT because of rising stars in MLS, but the Canadian program is also in good hands with Cyle Larin leading the line. 

    The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft broke the rookie scoring record with 17 goals in 27 games for expansion side Orlando City. 

    Larin's had two outbreaks during the regular season that few players matched as he netted five strikes on July 26 and August 1. In three of the final four matches of the Lions' inaugural campaign, Larin scored six tallies on eight shots on goal. 

    Thanks to Larin's production in the final third, Orlando City finished five points off the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

13. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Sacha Kljestan underwent a career renaissance with the New York Red Bulls after moving back to MLS from Anderlecht. 

    In a higher playmaking role, Kljestan contributed eight goals and 14 assists during the side's run to the Supporters' Shield. 

    Kljestan also helped make up for the abundance of quality passes in the final third that Thierry Henry made in his final professional season. The United States international added 2.6 key passes a game to the attack. 

    By winning the Supporters' Shield, Kljestan continued his championship-winning streak that began in 2010 in Belgium. Since then, Kljestan has won three Belgian League titles, four Belgian Super Cups and a Supporters' Shield. 

12. Fanendo Adi, FW, Portland Timbers

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    Fanendo Adi made an instant impact in the Portland attack as a midseason signing in 2014, but there were some concerns that he wouldn't be able to keep up the production over a full season. 

    In 37 total matches for the MLS Cup champions, the lanky Nigerian forward scored 18 strikes and he played a key role in getting the Timbers to the final match of the postseason. 

    Adi's fourth brace of the season on September 26 in Columbus sparked Portland's terrific run into the postseason in which it won four of its last five games in the regular season to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. 

    With 25 goals in two seasons for the Timbers, Adi has shown no signs of slowing down in front of goal, which is a good sign for Portland's hopes of repeating as MLS Cup champions in 2016. 

11. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes

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    One of the most consistent players in MLS history was at it again in 2015 as Chris Wondolowski scored on 16 occasions for the struggling San Jose Earthquakes. 

    The 16 tallies marked the sixth consecutive season in which the United States international found the back of the net more than 10 times. He has 102 of his 109 career regular-season goals during that span. 

    Wondolowski ended up with just under 40 percent of San Jose's goals in the club's first season under the direction of former Houston boss Dominic Kinnear. 

    During his historic year, Wondolowski became the ninth player in league history to eclipse the 100-goal mark. 

10. Fabian Castillo, AM, FC Dallas

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    For the second consecutive season, Fabian Castillo proved he was one of the most dynamic players in the league. 

    The 23-year-old Colombian contributed nine goals and nine assists on FC Dallas' run to the top seed in the Western Conference. 

    Not only did the winger produce in both key statistical categories, he opened up plenty of space in opposing defenses throughout the season as Oscar Pareja's side chased the top spot in the West. 

    Castillo's stellar season on the left flank for FC Dallas helped him earn a spot in the MLS Best XI

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

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    Without Thierry Henry in the Red Bulls lineup, Bradley Wright-Phillips was supposed to see a dramatic drop off in production. 

    The opposite happened in 2015 as the Englishman continued his scoring rampage in North America with 17 strikes and an additional seven assists. 

    The number that really sticks out is the assist mark set by Wright-Phillips, who only handed out two assists in 2014 while Henry played the role of top distributor.

    In two full seasons with the Red Bulls, Wright-Phillips has enjoyed one of the most successful scoring spells in league history with 44 goals. 

8. Mauro Diaz, CM, FC Dallas

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    The magician in the middle of the FC Dallas midfield rarely had a bad game during the stretch run of the regular season for Oscar Pareja's side. 

    Mauro Diaz, who had six goals and six assists before suffering a leg injury that kept him out for most of August and September, produced three goals and four assists in the final six games of the 34-match slate. 

    Diaz's best performances of the season may have come at home in the second leg of both of the club's playoff series. On both occasions, Diaz tried to single-handedly bring FC Dallas back into the series with his playmaking ability. He did that against Seattle in the Western Conference semifinal, but he fell just short in the Western Conference Final against Portland. 

    With Diaz, Castillo and plenty of other young pieces on the roster for years to come, FC Dallas should be a contender for at least the next five years. 

7. Dax McCarty, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Dax McCarty did a little bit of everything for the Red Bulls as they captured their second Supporters' Shield in three seasons. 

    The captain was a key cog in the Red Bulls midfield that used a high-pressing system to put opponents under a ton of duress. The most comprehensive display of the new system instilled by Marsch came on August 30 as the Red Bulls dominated rival D.C. United 3-0 at Red Bull Arena. 

    Not only was McCarty a menace on the defensive side of the field with 3.3 interceptions and 2.8 tackles per game, he also handed out a career high of eight assists

    McCarty's successful year at the club level led for many USMNT supporters to push for his inclusion in one of Jurgen Klinsmann's squads. That hasn't happened yet, but it could be on the horizon in 2016 if McCarty keeps up his impressive form. 

6. David Villa, FW, New York City FC

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    It took a while for David Villa to find a rhythm in the New York City FC attack, but one he did, he put up numbers that rivaled some of the best strikers in MLS. 

    After scoring three times over the first three months of the season, Villa caught fire beginning with a brace in the expansion side's 2-0 victory over Toronto FC. The Spaniard went on to score two goals in three of the next four matches, including a pair in the thrilling 4-4 draw with Toronto at Yankee Stadium on July 12. 

    Villa continued to be active in the final third for NYCFC as he ended up with the second-highest shot total behind Sebastian Giovinco. 

    In 2016, Villa will face a new challenge as he and the other big names in the NYCFC squad adjust to a new manager in Patrick Vieira. 

5. Robbie Keane, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Rarely does a player who featured in 22 matches make his way into the discussion for Most Valuable Player, but that is exactly what Robbie Keane did over the last nine months. 

    Keane put together one of the most impressive spells of individual brilliance over the summer as he scored 12 times in seven matches from July 4 to August 23. In that stretch, Keane earned two hat-tricks and a pair of braces. 

    The Republic of Ireland international caught fire again at the end of the regular season as he netted five additional tallies in his last four contests. 

    Keane's final tally of 20 goals was higher than any of his previous four seasons with the Galaxy, and it came in a shorter amount of time. 

4. Benny Feilhaber, CM, Sporting Kansas City

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    From the second the first whistle blew on the regular season, Benny Feilhaber made a strong case to be named MVP. 

    The Sporting Kansas City midfielder contributed to 25 of the club's 48 strikes with 10 goals and 15 assists, both of which were career highs. 

    Due to his superb levels of play in the final third for Peter Vermes' side, Feilhaber was one of the stars from the 2015 season to put his name into the USMNT selection discussion. 

    However, Feilhaber experienced a slip up in form after Sporting KC hoisted the U.S. Open Cup on September 30. Because he only had one assist in his last five league games, Feilhaber missed out on the top three of this list. 

3. Ethan Finlay, RM, Columbus Crew

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    Many thought 2014 was Ethan Finlay's breakout season in MLS and that was the truth until he unleashed an even better 2015 on the rest of the league. 

    The 25-year-old midfielder provided the Columbus Crew with 12 goals and 13 assists in the regular season as well as one goal in five postseason contests. 

    Finlay was also one of the most consistent attackers in the league as he rarely had a long spell of games in which he failed to contribute to a Crew tally. 

    Unlike Feilhaber, Finlay saved some of his most important performances for the end of the regular season as he scored three times in wins over Toronto and D.C. United. 

    It may be hard to believe, but we could see Finlay enter 2016 with even more motivation after he ended the year on a sour note with a rough outing on home soil in MLS Cup. 

2. Kei Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew

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    In any other season, Kei Kamara would have been the dominant face in the headlines almost every week. But Sebastian Giovinco forced Kamara into the title of MLS' second-best player throughout 2015. 

    Kamara, who returned to MLS with Columbus after a brief stint in England, scored 22 goals and handed out eight assists in the regular season. He added four additional strikes during the Crew's run to MLS Cup. 

    The forward with tremendous aerial ability had six two-goal performances for Gregg Berhalter's side, three of which came against playoff teams. 

    But because of Giovinco's spectacular season for Toronto FC, Kamara finished second in the MVP vote. The other meaningful second place earned by Kamara in 2015 stung more as the Crew lost MLS Cup at home to Portland. 

1. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC

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    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    It is nearly impossible to put Sebastian Giovinco's season into words. That's how magnificent the Italian's play was for Toronto FC. 

    The Atomic Ant delivered a large number of world-class goals for the Reds, and he helped the club earn its first-ever postseason berth.

    The MLS MVP produced 22 goals and 16 assists in 33 games for Greg Vanney's side. The 28-year-old Italian had two hat-tricks, three two-goal showings and attempted the most shots of any player in MLS with 181, 73 of them on target. 

    Giovinco's season is arguably the best ever in MLS, and he is only expected to get better as Toronto looks to improve its MLS Cup credentials in 2016. 

    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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