MLS Player Rankings: Giovinco Rises to Top, dos Santos Debuts High on List
The big-name players in Major League Soccer are beginning to round into form as the second month of the 2016 campaign winds down.
Sebastian Giovinco and Giovani dos Santos were the standout stars of Week 8, as they produced impressive attacking performances for Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy, respectively.
Giovinco's two-goal showing against the Montreal Impact helped him move to the top of our MLS Player Rankings, while dos Santos' terrific two-week spell in the Galaxy attack allowed him to make a high debut on the list of the top in-form players in MLS.
Our player rankings take into account the last four games individuals participated in, with the most recent match holding the most importance.
Continue reading to see which players joined Giovinco and dos Santos in our MLS Player Rankings after Week 8.
On the Way Out
A few lackluster performances and one absence from the pitch forced these four players out of the rankings after Week 8:
- Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers; Previous Ranking: 9)
- David Villa (New York City FC; 16)
- Andreas Ivanschitz (Seattle Sounders; 17)
- Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo; 20)
20. Osvaldo Alonso, CM, Seattle Sounders
Previous Ranking: 12
Osvaldo Alonso had another decent day in the middle of the Seattle Sounders midfield, but he wasn't as effective as past weeks.
Against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, the 30-year-old once again led the Sounders in touches with 79, but he only made one tackle on the defensive side of the ball.
However, Alonso's passing numbers didn't drop, as he completed 89.9 percent of his 68 passes.
19. Michael Barrios, RM, FC Dallas
Previous Ranking: 15
Michael Barrios and FC Dallas started Saturday's match at BC Place strong, but they could not convert on any of their chances due to the play of David Ousted in the Vancouver Whitecaps net.
During his 73 minutes on the pitch, Barrios handed out five key passes and sent one shot on target.
The 25-year-old will look to score his third goal in four games on Friday against the New York Red Bulls.
18. Justin Meram, RM, Columbus Crew
Previous Ranking: 14
No one in the Columbus Crew attack had an outstanding 90 minutes in the 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, but Justin Meram was active in the final third.
The Iraq international put two of his five shots on target at Mapfre Stadium in a match where the Crew should've struck for more than one tally.
In order to down Seattle in Week 9, the Crew must do better with their opportunities in front of the net.
17. Aaron Maund, CB, Real Salt Lake
Previous Ranking: 11
Saturday was a night to forget for Aaron Maund and the rest of the Real Salt Lake back four.
RSL conceded on five occasions in their defeat to the LA Galaxy, who put together a few masterful strikes courtesy of Gyasi Zardes and Giovani dos Santos.
In the six games before their first loss of the season, the Claret and Cobalt let in just six strikes.
16. Laurent Ciman, CB, Montreal Impact
Previous Ranking: 10
Montreal didn't suffer a drubbing like RSL in Week 8, but it fell victim to the world-class ability of Sebastian Giovinco in its 2-0 loss on Saturday.
The Impact defense, led by Laurent Ciman, didn't have a terrible match, but the back four could not stop Giovinco over 90 minutes.
The Belgian center back made eight interceptions and four clearances while limiting Toronto to four shots on goal, but the stat that matters is the final score.
15. Gyasi Zardes, FW, LA Galaxy
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Due to all of the buzz surrounding others in the United States men's national team talent pool at the moment, Gyasi Zardes is flying under the radar.
The 24-year-old netted his fourth strike of the season and second in two games in the Galaxy's rout of RSL on Saturday.
Zardes also produced his first assist of the year in the 5-2 victory, which reminded us all just how dangerous the Galaxy attack can be.
14. Micheal Azira, CM, Colorado Rapids
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
One of the unsung heroes during the Colorado Rapids' terrific start to the season has been midfielder Micheal Azira.
The central midfielder will not receive as much credit as Jermaine Jones or other stars on the team throughout the season, but he has been as important as the big names early in the 2016 campaign.
The 28-year-old turned in another solid performance in Colorado's 3-1 win over the Sounders on Saturday, including five interceptions and five clearances. The former Seattle man is averaging 4.0 interceptions and 3.3 tackles per game.
13. Clint Irwin, GK, Toronto FC
Previous Ranking: 18
Clint Irwin didn't have to do much between the pipes in Saturday's 401 Derby at Stade Saputo.
The former Colorado netminder recorded just two saves in Toronto's second consecutive shutout on the road.
The Reds will look to earn their third straight clean sheet in Portland on Sunday before they finally head home to BMO Field on May 7.
12. Dom Dwyer, FW, Sporting Kansas City
Previous Ranking: 7
Dom Dwyer left Avaya Stadium with plenty of frustration on Sunday afternoon after he was denied a clear penalty.
The English forward was fouled in the box early in the second half, but referee Jair Marrufo declined to award Sporting Kansas City a spot kick.
The bad no-call affected Dwyer's play for the rest of the contest, as he only made 32 touches and placed one shot on target in the 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.
11. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City
Previous Ranking: 19
Cyle Larin found his way back into the scoring column in his first start since April 3 on Sunday night at Red Bull Arena.
The Canada international pounced for an early strike in Orlando City's 3-2 defeat to the New York Red Bulls, which also featured a controversial no-call from a referee.
In the 63rd minute, Karl Ouimette dragged down Larin and denied him of an obvious scoring opportunity, but the call was not made by referee Hilario Grajeda. Two minutes later, the Red Bulls leveled the contest at one goal apiece.
10. Jermaine Jones, CM, Colorado Rapids
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Jermaine Jones has gone through a positional rebirth of sorts in his first two matches for the Colorado Rapids.
The normal defensive midfielder has lined up in the No. 10 role and scored once in each of the last two games for the in-form Rapids.
If he continues to thrive in midfield for Pablo Mastroeni's side, the experienced Jones should be a part of the USMNT's Copa America Centenario squad.
9. C.J. Sapong, FW, Philadelphia Union
Previous Ranking: 13
Speaking of the USMNT Copa squad, one name to keep an eye on in the next month is Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong.
The 27-year-old forward found the back of the net for the fourth time in 2016 in the Union's 2-0 win over New York City FC on Saturday.
In addition to scoring the Union's second tally, Sapong once again impressed with his hold-up play and earned quite a few free kicks that turned into dangerous scoring opportunities.
The former Sporting KC man fits the USMNT's need of a target forward, but his sudden surge may be too late to find a way onto Jurgen Klinsmann's depth chart before June.
8. Andre Blake, GK, Philadelphia Union
Previous Ranking: 8
Andre Blake experienced a slow day in net at Talen Energy Stadium against NYCFC.
Although NYCFC won the possession battle and had plenty of touches in the final third, the second-year side forced Blake into one save over 90 minutes.
The lack of action between the pipes for Blake can be attributed to the Union holding firm in defense and NYCFC's failure to shoot anywhere close to the net.
7. Ignacio Piatti, CAM, Montreal Impact
Previous Ranking: 4
Montreal's attack failed to produce anything significant in its 2-0 loss to Toronto on Saturday.
Playmaker Ignacio Piatti struggled the most against the impressive Toronto back four. The 31-year-old was limited to 36 touches, and he failed to take a shot or distribute a key pass in 90 minutes.
The performance was the worst of the season for the Argentinian, who is averaging 2.9 key passes and 2.4 shots per contest.
6. Kaka, AM, Orlando City
Previous Ranking: 5
The Brazilian, who has two goals and two assists in three matches, is expected to be back for the Lions' road match in Week 9 against the New England Revolution.
5. Giovani dos Santos, AM, LA Galaxy
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Giovani dos Santos is finally living up to his designated player tag with Robbie Keane out of the LA Galaxy lineup.
The 26-year-old Mexican added a goal and an assist to LA's 5-2 win over RSL on Saturday to move his season totals to three strikes and two handouts.
Dos Santos has contributed to five of the Galaxy's nine goals in the last two weeks. When Keane returns and finds a rhythm of his own, Bruce Arena's side could be hard to stop.
4. Joao Plata, FW, Real Salt Lake
Previous Ranking: 2
Joao Plata did not play in RSL's Week 8 match against the Galaxy due to a hip flexor, per Luis Bueno of the Deseret News.
Without Plata in the lineup, Jeff Cassar's side lacked a full attacking punch despite contributions from Javier Morales and Juan Manuel Martinez.
3. Chris Wondolowski, FW, San Jose Earthquakes
Previous Ranking: 3
Chris Wondolowski moved into sole possession of first place in the Golden Boot race with his second-half penalty in San Jose's win over Sporting KC.
The goal was the seventh overall for the United States international and second from the spot in 2016.
The 33-year-old, who recently moved into fourth on the all-time MLS scoring chart, has scored in all but one San Jose match.
2. Fanendo Adi, FW, Portland Timbers
Previous Ranking: 1
Fanendo Adi was unable to hold on to the top spot after Week 8 because the Portland Timbers did not play.
The Timbers surge back into action in Week 9 as they visit the Revolution on Wednesday before traveling back home to take on Toronto on Sunday.
Adi should feature in at least one of those matches. The tougher test in Week 9 will come in the form of Toronto's much-improved back four, which is led by Drew Moor.
1. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC
Previous Ranking: 6
It took Sebastian Giovinco eight weeks to reclaim the spot he owned for most of the 2015 season.
The 29-year-old, who took up residence in the No. 1 position on this list last season, recorded his first brace of the season in Toronto's road win over Montreal.
Giovinco has found the back of the net four times in three matches, and he is making a good case to be a part of Italy's Euro 2016 squad.
Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.