MLS Player Rankings: Plata, Larin, Bruin Top Attack-Heavy List After Week 3

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 22, 2016

MLS Player Rankings: Plata, Larin, Bruin Top Attack-Heavy List After Week 3

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Offense continued to be the theme across Major League Soccer in Week 3 as 27 goals struck the back of the net over three days of play. 

    Some of the same players who thrived over the first two weeks of the season extended their terrific starts into this past weekend. 

    Selecting a No. 1 in our latest edition of the MLS Player Rankings was a difficult task since seven attackers are tied for the Golden Boot, and six have contributed to at least four of their team's tallies so far. 

    Our player rankings take into account cumulative performance over the last three weeks with a emphasis on the most recent showing by the players considered for the list. 

    Continue reading to see who topped our listing of the top-20 in-form stars after Week 3. 

On the Way out

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    Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

    A few standouts from Week 1 and Week 2 fell out of the top 20 this week because their overall season performances don't measure up to those on the list.

    Players Dropped Out of Rankings

    Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution; Previous Ranking: 10)

    Thomas McNamara (New York City FC; 11)

    David Villa (New York City FC; 14)

    Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City; 15)

    Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union; 16)

20. Nuno Andre Coelho, CB, Sporting Kansas City

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    It's about time we started recognizing some of the league's top defenders. 

    After two weeks of mainly focusing on attackers, Sporting Kansas City center-back Nuno Andre Coelho is one of the new back-line additions to our weekly rankings. 

    The offseason acquisition has led Peter Vermes' side to the only perfect record in the league and the top defensive mark after Week 3. Sporting KC have conceded once in 270 minutes.

19. Diego Valeri, AM, Portland Timbers

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    To say Diego Valeri was a busy man in the final third on Saturday night is a bit of an understatement. 

    The Argentine engine of the Portland Timbers attack dished out 10 key passes in his team's 2-2 draw with Real Salt Lake at Providence Park. 

    Thanks to his active play in Week 3, Valeri leads the league in key passes per game with 6.7, while Sacha Kljestan is second on the list with four per contest.

18. Mekeil Williams, RB, Colorado Rapids

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    The search for the most underrated player in MLS to date in 2016 begins and ends with Colorado Rapids right-back Mekeil Williams. 

    The casual fans and even some of the league's diehards don't know his name, but he has brought a stabilizing force to the Rapids back line.

    As surprising as it sounds, Colorado has only conceded twice through three matches. That mark is good enough for the second-best defensive record in MLS.

17. C.J. Sapong, FW, Philadelphia Union

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    While we're on the topic of underrated players on clubs that are in the process of improving themselves following a rough 2015, let's talk about C.J. Sapong. 

    The powerful forward found the back of the net for the first time in 2016 with his double in the Union's dominant 3-0 win over New England that could've been much worse if Philadelphia knew how to shoot from the penalty spot.

    Outside of the goals column, Sapong has put in a tremendous work rate and has adapted well alongside his new teammates in attack for the second-place side in the Eastern Conference.

16. Tim Melia, GK, Sporting Kansas City

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 20

    Tim Melia became the second goalkeeper in MLS to earn two clean sheets in March, when Sporting KC blanked Toronto FC at Children's Mercy Park on Sunday. 

    The 29-year-old turned away all four shots sent in his direction as Sporting KC moved to the top of the Western Conference ahead of the international break. 

    Melia leads the league in wins with three and is tied with FC Dallas' Jesse Gonzalez atop the shutout leaderboard.

15. Mike Magee, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 19

    Mike Magee added to his totals from Week 1 with an assist in the LA Galaxy's California Clasico victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. 

    The MLS veteran, who scored twice and produced an assist in the opener against D.C. United, contributed a helper on Gyasi Zardes' 56th-minute strike that put the Galaxy ahead by one. 

    As long as Giovani Dos Santos is out injured, Magee is expected to remain in the starting lineup for Bruce Arena's side.

14. Dominic Oduro, FW, Montreal Impact

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    The return of Didier Drogba was supposed to bring an added spark to the Montreal Impact on Saturday, but the forward players in the Impact attack never got going at Toyota Stadium. 

    Dominic Oduro was one of the players who suffered from the strong FC Dallas defending as he touched the ball on 19 occasions in 84 minutes. 

    Credit must be given to the FC Dallas back line, especially the full-backs, who choked out Montreal's threat on the wings for the majority of the contest.

13. Juan Manuel Martinez, AM, Real Salt Lake

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    At some point, playing without a full group of 11 players for a long stretch is going to hurt a team. 

    That's exactly what happened to Real Salt Lake, who spent 64 minutes on Saturday with 10 men after a Kyle Beckerman red card. The Claret and Cobalt eventually moved down to nine men when Jamison Olave was ejected in the 83rd minute.

    Due to the lack of numbers on the pitch, Juan Manuel Martinez was never able to make a massive impact on the contest.

    In 90 minutes, "Burrito" Martinez recorded 47 touches, but he didn't send a shot on goal or make a key pass.

12. Mix Diskerud, CM, New York City FC

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Unlike the two players directly below him in the player rankings, Mix Diskerud had a productive night despite an overall poor showing from his team. 

    Diskerud was the most active attacker for New York City FC on Friday night against Orlando City as he put all three of his shots on target. 

    The one number that sticks out when you look at the NYCFC stat sheet is the disparity in passes made by Diskerud and Andrea Pirlo. The Italian attempted 109 passes, while Diskerud only had 27 to his name.

11. David Accam, FW, Chicago Fire

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    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Chicago's David Accam was the only player on this list who didn't take to the pitch in Week 3. 

    The Ghanaian, who had two goals and one assist in his first two matches, was unavailable for selection due to a knee issue, per Chicago Fire sideline reporter Paul Tenorio

    Based off his production over the first few weeks of the season, Accam should climb back up this list once he returns to full fitness.

10. Fanendo Adi, FW, Portland Timbers

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    Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    The highest entrant this week scored his 10th-career brace in MLS during Portland's comeback at Providence Park on Saturday night. 

    Dating back to September 26, 2015, Fanendo Adi has found the back of the net on nine occasions. In three matches during that span, the Nigerian has struck for a pair of goals. 

    If you include playoff games in that statistic, the lanky forward has 11 tallies in his last 14 contests.

9. Mauro Diaz, AM, FC Dallas

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    Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 18

    Mauro Diaz caught everyone's attention by scoring one of the few amazing free-kicks netted across the league on Saturday night. 

    The 25-year-old unleashed his first strike of the season into the top of the net in 79th minute of FC Dallas' 2-0 victory over Montreal.

    In addition to his stellar set-piece goal, Diaz handed out three key passes and again led Oscar Pareja's side in touches with 72.

8. Andrew Wenger, RM, Houston Dynamo

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    Houston may have notched three tallies on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena, but Andrew Wenger did not play a role in creating any of the strikes. 

    The former Philadelphia and Montreal man, who has had a strong start to the new campaign, put two shots on target, but he was unable to personally beat Luis Robles in the seven-goal thriller. 

    After Week 3, Wenger is only one of six players that have contributed to four or more goals. 

7. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Although he didn't find the back of the net in Week 3 like some of the others above him on this list, Sebastian Giovinco did have a busy night in the final third for Toronto FC. 

    The 29-year-old Italian sent two of his five shots on target and produced a pair of key passes in the Reds' 1-0 defeat to Sporting Kansas City. 

    Despite his impressive start to the season, Giovinco was not named to the Italy squad for the friendlies against Spain and Germany during the international break.

6. Andre Blake, GK, Philadelphia Union

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 12 

    Jamaica international Andre Blake has been a major key to the Philadelphia Union's early success.

    The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft earned his first clean sheet of the season on Sunday in the Union's home victory over New England.

    The biggest stop from the MLS saves leader came in the 22nd minute, when he leaped to the left and kept out Lee Nguyen's effort from distance. 

    Blake will be a part of the Reggae Boyz squad that faces Costa Rica in a pair of critical CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on March 25 and 29.

5. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 17

    It comes as no surprise that Mr. Consistency is one of two players with goals in each of his club's first three contests. 

    Chris Wondolowski's third tally of the year came in the 89th minute at the StubHub Center on Saturday as the Earthquakes attempted to come back from a two-goal deficit in the California Clasico. 

    It's now only a matter of when, not if, Wondolowski will surpass Ante Razov for third place on the all-time scoring chart. San Jose's next opponent is D.C. United on April 2 at Avaya Stadium.

4. Ignacio Piatti, CAM, Montreal Impact

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    The best player in the league after two weeks regressed back to the mean a bit on Saturday in Montreal's defeat to FC Dallas. 

    Ignacio Piatti, who entered Toyota Stadium with five shots on target in the opening contests of 2016, failed to send the ball in the direction of the goal in the Impact's 2-0 loss.

    Even when Didier Drogba entered for the final 21 minutes of the match, Piatti failed to light a spark in the Montreal attack.

3. Will Bruin, FW, Houston Dynamo

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 13

    The emergence of Will Bruin will be a story to watch as the year progresses and the Houston attack continues to adjust to each other's skill sets. 

    Before the Red Bulls struck for two late goals by Felipe on Saturday, Bruin's brace was the headline as he handed Owen Coyle's side a one-goal advantage in the second half. 

    If he continues at his current pace, Bruin will easily earn his fourth double-digit goal total in five years. In the eyes of some, that may be worthy of a United States men's national team call-up.

2. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City

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    Alex Menendez/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Ho hum. Just another week in which Cyle Larin's name was on the scoresheet. 

    The immensely talented Canadian forward found himself in a seven-way tie atop the Golden Boot standings after becoming the first player to score in each of his first three games on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. 

    Larin also ranks fifth in shots and tied for first in attempts on target alongside Maximiliano Urruti and Giovinco.

1. Joao Plata, FW, Real Salt Lake

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    The smallest leap from Week 2 to Week 3 turned out to be the most significant one as Real Salt Lake's Joao Plata moved into the top spot in our player rankings. 

    The Ecuadorian's free-kick skills were on display on Saturday night as he opened the scoring for the Claret and Cobalt in the 16th minute at Providence Park.

    Plata's strike moved him into elite company as just he, Bruin and Piatti have played a role in five of their team's goals 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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