MLS Player Rankings: Dos Santos, BWP in Tight Showdown for Top Spot

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2016

MLS Player Rankings: Dos Santos, BWP in Tight Showdown for Top Spot

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    The competition for the No. 1 position in the MLS Player Rankings is the fiercest it's been all season. 

    Bradley Wright-Phillips and Giovani dos Santos are both in stellar form for their respective sides as the postseason inches closer.

    Wright-Phillips is on track to win his second Golden Boot award in three years, while Dos Santos is stealing the majority of the headlines for the LA Galaxy, even with Landon Donovan back in the squad. 

    Our player rankings take into account the last four performances from each player selected, with the most recent showing counting more.

    Continue reading to see which superstar snagged the top spot in the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings after Week 27. 

On the Way Out

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    Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

    Injuries forced Sebastian Giovinco and Steven Gerrard out of the top 20, while the other six players lost their positions because of performance. 

              

    Players Dropped out of Rankings

    Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC; Previous Ranking: 2) 

    Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy; 10)

    Justin Meram (Columbus Crew; 13)

    Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 14)

    Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 15) 

    Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake; 16) 

    Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union; 18)

    Yura Movsisyan (Real Salt Lake; 19) 

20. Patrick Nyarko, RM, D.C. United

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    Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 20

    Unlike some of the other stars who were in the bottom half of this list two weeks ago, Patrick Nyarko is still deserving of his place. 

    The D.C. United midfielder didn't contribute to a goal in Week 27 against the Red Bulls but contributed a goal and three assists in his last four matches. 

    Nyarko caught fire before and during the international break with strong performances against Chicago and New York City FC. 

    The 30-year-old and his teammates are in the middle of a tight race for the sixth playoff position in the Eastern Conference with Orlando City and New England. 

    Ben Olsen's men can help themselves in Week 28 with a win on the road against Nyarko's former side, the Chicago Fire. 

19. Jordan Morris, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 12 

    Jordan Morris failed to make a significant impact in the area in which he played collegiate soccer on Saturday. 

    The United States international failed to take a single shot in Seattle's 1-1 draw with San Jose at Avaya Stadium. 

    The lackluster showing from the 21-year-old marked just the fourth time in 27 matches in which he failed to attempt a shot. 

    Morris will look to play a bigger role in Week 28 when the Sounders host Vancouver in a Cascadia Cup clash. A win is crucial for Seattle in that match, since the Sounders sit two points behind the Whitecaps below the red line in the Western Conference.

18. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Cyle Larin missed out on Orlando City's goalscoring fun on Wednesday at Stade Saputo, as he was returning from international duty with Canada. 

    Unfortunately for Larin and the Lions, they could not parlay their midweek showing into a result on the road against the Galaxy on Sunday. 

    The 21-year-old, who has one goal in his last four appearances, only took one shot that went off target in his 61 minutes on the pitch at StubHub Center in the 4-2 defeat. 

    Jason Kreis and Co. will need more out of Larin if they want to surprise everyone and steal the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

17. Ethan Finlay, RM, Columbus Crew

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    The small semblance of life shown by Ethan Finlay and the Columbus Crew in August was just a fluky stretch and nothing more. 

    The disappointing Crew dropped a 3-1 result at home to the Whitecaps on Saturday in which Finlay continued to cool off after finishing on four occasions last month. 

    Columbus' season may be lost, but the Crew still have a chance to play spoiler over the final weeks of the regular season, starting with Saturday's trip to Camping World Stadium to face Orlando. 

16. Jelle Van Damme, CB, LA Galaxy

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    The LA Galaxy can stockpile all the attacking firepower they want, but they need a complete team to contend for the MLS Cup in December. 

    Center-back Jelle Van Damme has been a rock in defense for most of the season, and on Sunday he showed a little attacking flair as well by contributing to a pair of goals in the club's win over Orlando. 

    The 32-year-old Belgian is averaging 4.8 clearances and 3.1 interceptions per game for the second-place side in the Western Conference. 

    Van Damme will have a tall task on his hands defensively in Week 28 when he goes up against the powerful Dom Dwyer at Children's Mercy Park. 

15. Tranquillo Barnetta, CM, Philadelphia Union

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Tranquillo Barnetta continues to be one of the most underrated playmakers in MLS. 

    The Swiss No. 10 is one of the keys to the Philadelphia Union attack, and the club thrives more in the final third when he is on the ball. 

    Barnetta was quiet for most of the first half on Saturday but struck right away when he received an opportunity. The 31-year-old netted his fifth tally of the season right before half-time in Union's 1-1 draw with Montreal. 

    The overall numbers for Barnetta may not be as high as others at his position, but he has played a role in a Union strike in three of the last four matches. 

14. Boniek Garcia, RM, Houston Dynamo

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Boniek Garcia is the first Houston Dynamo player to crack the top 20 since Will Bruin left the list after Week 7. 

    Things have been rough for the Dynamo in 2016, but they've shown plenty of fight since Owen Coyle left and Wade Barrett took over the club. 

    Garcia, who has been with the club since 2012, is in his best form of the season at the moment, as he's handed out three assists in the last two weeks, including a pair against Sporting KC on Saturday. 

    The Dynamo are nowhere close to making a late surge for the postseason, but it's nice to see the club building a nice foundation for 2017 under Barrett.

13. Joao Plata, FW, Real Salt Lake

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    Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    Real Salt Lake had a disappointing week as a whole, earning one point from two matches. One of the few positives from the 180 minutes of action was the play of Joao Plata. 

    The diminutive Ecuadorian provided the Claret and Cobalt with two goals and an assist in the wild 3-3 draw with the Galaxy on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium. 

    RSL's attacking prowess from Wednesday did not transfer over to Providence Park on Saturday, as they were shut out by the Portland Timbers. 

    Plata hit a personal rough patch of form during the summer, but he's rebounded with two goals and two assists in his last four matches and three goals and four assists since the beginning of August. 

12. Dom Dwyer, FW, Sporting Kansas City

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    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    One day before he became a father for the first time, Dom Dwyer netted his 13th tally of the campaign against the Houston Dynamo. 

    The English forward was one of the most active attackers in Week 27, putting five of his nine attempts on goal in the 3-3 draw at Children's Mercy Park. 

    Dwyer has three goals in his last four contests for Peter Vermes' side and is expected to finish off more chances in order to keep Sporting KC away from trouble in the Western Conference playoff race. 

    Friday's goal from the 26-year-old helped him surpass his season total from a year ago. However, he still has a long way to go to match his tally of 22 from 2014. 

11. Juan Agudelo, FW, New England Revolution

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    Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    The New England Revolution have taken advantage of the immense parity in the Eastern Conference over the last two weeks and have suddenly put pressure on Orlando and D.C. in the race for sixth. 

    Juan Agudelo has been a big part of the success for Jay Heaps' side, with two goals and an assist in the last two games. 

    The 23-year-old provided the Revs with a tally and a handout in Saturday's 3-1 win over New York City FC. The win moved New England within one point of Orlando in what could be the most exciting race for the postseason in the league. 

10. Michael De Leeuw, FW, Chicago Fire

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Michael de Leeuw may not be on the radar of many around the league but deserves credit for the numbers he's put up over the last three games for the Chicago Fire. 

    The Dutch forward, who signed with the club during the middle of the season, has played a role in five tallies for Veljko Paunovic's side during a stretch in which the Fire lost twice and won once. 

    The 29-year-old scored the lone Chicago goal in the 2-1 loss to Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC on Saturday. 

    In his previous two matches, De Leeuw recorded a goal and an assist against D.C. and Philadelphia. 

9. Patrick Mullins, FW, D.C. United

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Patrick Mullins avoided a drop into the bottom half of the rankings after Week 27 because he has a better cumulative record than those who experienced the fall. 

    The D.C. United forward, who did not score in the come-from-behind draw against the Red Bulls, bagged a hat-trick on August 27 against Chicago in a strange, eight-goal affair. 

    In order to retain his high ranking for another week, the 24-year-old has to find his way back on to the scoresheet for Ben Olsen's side. 

    The good news for Mullins is that the Black and Red face the same Chicago side they lit up for six goals a few weeks back. 

8. Ignacio Piatti, CM, Montreal Impact

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Ignacio Piatti didn't score Montreal's 88th-minute equalizer against Philadelphia on Saturday, but he did push for a goal throughout the Eastern Conference showdown at Talen Energy Stadium. 

    The Argentinian playmaker was a menace to the Union defense, making four key passes and attempting two shots in a match in which the Impact stole a point from the team directly above them in the standings. 

    The 31-year-old is one of a select group of 15 who averages over two key passes per contest for their respective sides. 

7. Kaka, AM, Orlando City

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 17

    One game after recording his first brace in MLS, Kaka knocked in another pair of goals against Montreal on Wednesday.

    The 34-year-old contributed to half of the Lions' goals in the 4-1 victory at Stade Saputo that moved the club over the red line for the time being in the Eastern Conference. 

    Although he didn't produce a ton on short rest against the Galaxy on Sunday, Kaka is in the middle of his best form since joining MLS.

    Kaka scored in three consecutive games and three times in four matches last season but never banged in four strikes in such a short period of time. 

6. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    If one of Sacha Kljestan's chances found the back of the net instead of striking the post on Sunday, the Red Bulls may have left the pitch with a satisfactory result. 

    Kljestan came close to scoring on two occasions but was kept out by the upright and D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid in the 2-2 Atlantic Cup draw. 

    The league leader in assists entered the match coming off two impressive showings for the United States men's national team versus Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. 

    The Red Bulls will go through another difficult week when they host Alianza in the CONCACAF Champions League and visit Toronto FC in a clash of Eastern Conference titans. 

5. Frank Lampard, CM, New York City FC

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Frank Lampard's rapid move up the Golden Boot standings continued on Saturday, as he netted his 12th strike in NYCFC's defeat at Gillette Stadium.

    The 38-year-old moved into double digits in his first match of September against D.C. United at Yankee Stadium with a brace. 

    Lampard's dozen tallies have come from 21 shots on target, and most of them have come from close range off every body part imaginable. 

    NYCFC enter Week 28 level on points with the Red Bulls but are behind their rivals in the standings on a tiebreaker.

4. Jozy Altidore, FW, Toronto FC

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    It's hard to believe Jozy Altidore still has the potential to get better in the Toronto FC attack once Giovinco returns from his injury. 

    The 26-year-old forward earned a goal and an assist on Saturday in Toronto's 2-1 road win over Chicago. 

    Since his return to the lineup on July 23, the USMNT player has scored on six occasions and handed out a pair of assists. 

    With plenty of home games left on the schedule and Altidore in ridiculous form, the Reds will make a run at the Supporters' Shield. 

3. Nicolas Lodeiro, CM, Seattle Sounders

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Even when the Sounders don't put together their best performance they're still in the match, because Nicolas Lodeiro can create something in an instant. 

    The Uruguayan bounced in a free-kick from the right wing on Saturday to hand the Sounders a point on the road against the Earthquakes. 

    In his short MLS career of seven matches, Lodeiro has picked up three goals and six assists. The only match in which he failed to contribute to a tally was his first for the club on July 16. 

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

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    Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    In most weeks, Bradley Wright-Phillips' extension of form with a goal would've kept him in the top spot. However, Dos Santos is doing some special things at the moment for the Galaxy.

    Wright-Phillips moved within two goals of 20 on Sunday when he scored in his fifth consecutive match for the Red Bulls. 

    The Golden Boot leader has beaten an opposing goalkeeper at least once in seven of his last eight matches, with two braces during that streak. 

    However, a single tally in each of his last four contests was not enough to hold on to the No. 1 position for the third straight week. 

1. Giovani Dos Santos, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Rarely do we see a new entrant claim the top spot on this list, but we rarely witness a string of performances like Dos Santos has produced recently.

    The Mexico international played a role in all four Galaxy goals on Sunday, scoring twice and dishing out two assists against Orlando City. 

    The fantastic match at StubHub Center was preceded by two goals and a handout in the midweek draw at Rio Tinto Stadium with Real Salt Lake. 

    Six of the Mexican's 14 goals have come since August 24. With Robbie Keane returning to the lineup and Landon Donovan coming off the bench, that total is likely to grow in the coming weeks. 

              

    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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