MLS Player Rankings: Ola Kamara Rises to Top; Lampard, Keane Debut

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 12, 2016

MLS Player Rankings: Ola Kamara Rises to Top; Lampard, Keane Debut

0 of 21

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Since the resumption of play in Major League Soccer after the Copa America Centenario break, a few attackers have gone on impressive scoring runs. 

    The Columbus Crew's Ola Kamara and New York City FC's Frank Lampard are two of the high-profile stars who have been on the national radar since the Copa due to their scoring prowess. 

    In addition to Kamara and Lampard, a few other players have flown under the radar since June 18 for their respective clubs. Four of the five new entrants in our MLS Player Rankings have caught fire in front of the net since the Copa, while the other is in terrific defensive form.

    Our player rankings take into account the last four matches a player has participated in, with the most recent game carrying more weight.

    Continue reading to see who ended up where in the Week 18 edition of the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings. 

On the Way Out

1 of 21

    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Five mainstays of the MLS Player Rankings fell out of the top 20 after Week 18 due to scoring slumps after the Copa America Centenario break. 

    Players Dropped Out of Rankings

    Cyle Larin (Orlando City; Previous Ranking: 12) 

    Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls; 14) 

    Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact; 16) 

    Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers; 17) 

    Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 20) 

20. Giovani dos Santos, FW, LA Galaxy

2 of 21

    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Giovani dos Santos has taken a back seat to Robbie Keane in the LA Galaxy attack over the last two games. 

    The Mexico international, who has one goal since the start of June, failed to make an offensive impact on Saturday at CenturyLink Field, as he didn't attempt a shot in 76 minutes. 

    The good news for Dos Santos heading into Week 19 is he gets to play the Houston Dynamo at home. If he gets back on track on Friday, the 27-year-old will remain on this list. 

19. Sebastian Giovinco, FW, Toronto FC

3 of 21

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 15

    Sebastian Giovinco held on to his spot in the top 20 thanks to his assist on Justin Morrow's goal in Toronto FC's 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire. 

    However, the Atomic Ant could've been much better in front of the net, as he only put one of his 13 attempts on target. 

    The 29-year-old's performance on Saturday was a perfect encapsulation of his struggles since the Copa break. Giovinco has 31 shots in his last four games, but only eight have challenged opposing goalkeepers. During that stretch, he has zero goals and two assists. 

18. Diego Valeri, AM, Portland Timbers

4 of 21

    Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Diego Valeri missed his second straight game with a concussion in Week 18. The Argentinian playmaker was unable to fully train in practice on Thursday, per Jamie Goldberg of the Oregonian.

    In the 180 minutes without Valeri on the pitch, the Portland Timbers have failed to score in a pair of goalless draws with the Colorado Rapids and New York Red Bulls. 

    The Timbers will hope the 30-year-old will return either for Wednesday's clash with Montreal at Providence Park or for Sunday's Cascadia Cup match at home versus Seattle. 

17. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls

5 of 21

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    The MLS assists leader is in danger of losing his spot on this list and atop the league leaderboard if his dry spell continues. 

    Sacha Kljestan of the New York Red Bulls surged to first in assists thanks to a resurgent April and May, but the 30-year-old American hasn't contributed to a goal since the league resumed play on June 18.

    Just like the three stars directly beneath him, Kljestan will relinquish his position in the top 20 if he turns in another poor showing in Week 19. 

16. Jack Harrison, FW, New York City FC

6 of 21

    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 10 

    Jack Harrison and his New York City FC teammates experienced a slight dip in form in Week 18. 

    The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft only placed one shot on target in 180 minutes of play against the New England Revolution and Sporting Kansas City.

    NYCFC's lead atop the Eastern Conference dwindled to one point after their defeat at the hands of Sporting KC on Sunday. 

15. Robbie Keane, FW, LA Galaxy

7 of 21

    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: N/A 

    If Keane begins to catch fire in the final third, the Galaxy will become one of the teams to beat in the Western Conference. 

    The Republic of Ireland international has found the back of the net in each of his last two games, both of which were won by Bruce Arena's side. 

    Despite playing in just eight matches in 2016, the 36-year-old designated player has six goals to his name.

14. Kei Kamara, FW, New England Revolution

8 of 21

    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 19

    Saturday may have marked a turning point in the season of the New England Revolution. 

    Jay Heaps' side broke a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Columbus. In the match at Gillette Stadium, Kei Kamara netted his third goal for the Revs. 

    The Sierra Leone international has three tallies in the last three matches after going scoreless for five league contests in a row. 

13. Axel Sjoberg, CB, Colorado Rapids

9 of 21

    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 18

    Usually we compliment the defensive prowess of Axel Sjoberg in this space, but his offensive skills helped him move up the list after Week 18.

    The towering Swede nodded in a 95th-minute equalizer for the Rapids on Saturday to earn a key point in the Western Conference playoff race against Vancouver. 

    Sjoberg's other goal this season came against Seattle on May 21 at CenturyLink Field. 

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

10 of 21

    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    D.C. United's performance as a whole on Saturday will go down as one of the worst of the season. 

    The 3-0 defeat at Talen Energy Stadium halted all the momentum the Black and Red gained over the previous five matches Bill Hamid started in net. 

    Hamid, who made four stops on Saturday, was beaten by a pair of penalties and a thunderbolt off the boot of Ilsinho. 

11. Juan Manuel Martinez, AM, Real Salt Lake

11 of 21

    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Some of Saturday night's numbers may tell us that Juan Manuel Martinez was active on the ball, but the important stat categories show he couldn't create much. 

    The Real Salt Lake midfielder recorded 75 touches in the 1-1 draw with Montreal, but he only dished out one key pass and failed to send a shot on target in 67 minutes. 

    RSL haven't played terribly in their last two games, but dropping four points at home to Eastern Conference opposition isn't exactly good. 

10. Roland Alberg, AM, Philadelphia Union

12 of 21

    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: N/A 

    Philadelphia Union midfielder Roland Alberg has been one of the hottest players in the league since the Copa break. 

    The 25-year-old continued his impressive run of form on Saturday, providing the Union with a goal and an assist in their 3-0 win over D.C. United. 

    All six of Alberg's goals in a Philadelphia uniform have come since the resumption of play on June 18. 

9. Benny Feilhaber, CM, Sporting Kansas City

13 of 21

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: N/A

    It shouldn't be a total surprise that Sporting Kansas City's uptick in form has coincided with Benny Feilhaber's increased production in attack. 

    In four matches since the Copa break, the American midfielder has contributed to at least one strike in each of the four contests. 

    During that span, Sporting KC have earned 10 out of a potential 12 points.

8. Matt Hedges, CB, FC Dallas

14 of 21

    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: N/A

    We're starting to run out of superlatives to use when describing the play of the FC Dallas defense. 

    Matt Hedges helped Oscar Pareja's side keep its third consecutive clean sheet on Friday against San Jose at Avaya Stadium. The 1-0 win by FC Dallas handed the Earthquakes their first home loss of 2016. 

    The 26-year-old, who should receive a USMNT call-up again in the near future, is averaging 3.8 clearances and interceptions per game. 

7. David Villa, FW, New York City FC

15 of 21

    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 

    David Villa had a rare silent night in the final third for NYCFC on Sunday against Sporting KC, recording just one shot

    The Spaniard, who has 12 goals in 20 matches, leads MLS with 115 attempted shots. In 30 matches last season, the 35-year-old took a total of 138 shots. 

    Villa and NYCFC will face a difficult challenge in Week 19 when they head up to Stade Saputo to face the Montreal Impact on Sunday. 

6. Frank Lampard, CM, New York City FC

16 of 21

    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: N/A

    It's taken Frank Lampard five games to prove us all wrong about his stay in MLS.

    Lampard has found the back of the net in four of his last five matches, including once in each of NYCFC's Week 18 matches. 

    The 38-year-old has brought more consistency to the NYCFC midfield alongside Andrea Pirlo, and if things continue to go in the right direction, Patrick Vieira's club will make the playoffs in its second year. 

5. Yura Movsisyan, FW, Real Salt Lake

17 of 21

    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Yura Movsisyan extended his scoring run into July on Saturday when he slotted home a penalty to hand RSL a point against visiting Montreal. 

    Dating back to May 21, the RSL forward has netted five tallies in six starts. Since the Copa break, Movsisyan has beaten an opposing netminder in all but one match. 

    In the lone game following the Copa in which he didn't score, Movsisyan sent four shots on target. 

4. Walker Zimmerman, CB, FC Dallas

18 of 21

    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Walker Zimmerman is more than deserving of being the highest-placed defender we've had on the list all season. 

    The 23-year-old American turned in yet another impressive showing alongside Hedges in the FC Dallas defense in the win over San Jose. 

    Zimmerman, who is averaging 5.5 clearances per contest, is part of a back line that hasn't conceded in seven halves of soccer. 

3. Ignacio Piatti, AM, Montreal Impact

19 of 21

    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Ignacio Piatti's four-game scoring streak came to an end on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.

    The 31-year-old produced an average performance against Real Salt Lake, as he sent one shot on goal and dished out a single key pass. 

    Piatti has two chances to regain his scoring form in Week 19 as the Impact face Portland and NYCFC. 

2. Mauro Diaz, AM, FC Dallas

20 of 21

    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Mauro Diaz may not have picked up an assist for the third game in a row on Friday, but he still combined well with the players in the FC Dallas attack, especially Maximiliano Urruti. 

    The 25-year-old dealt out two key passes and used his movement to create more space for others around him in the final third. 

    As long as Diaz remains healthy, FC Dallas should be able to secure one of the top seeds in the Western Conference and contend for the Supporters' Shield. 

1. Ola Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew

21 of 21

    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    The Columbus Crew have plenty of things to worry about at the moment. The form of Ola Kamara is not one of them. 

    Kamara scored his eighth goal of the season in the Crew's loss to the Revolution on Saturday. The 26-year-old has scored all eight of those tallies in his last five starts. 

    With home games against Toronto FC and D.C. United coming up in Week 19, look for Kamara to score a few more times as the Crew try to earn quality results on home soil. 

    Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    All statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com and WhoScored.com