MLS Player Rankings: Morris, Kamara, Villa Make Big Moves After Week 29

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2016

MLS Player Rankings: Morris, Kamara, Villa Make Big Moves After Week 29

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    The season may have flipped from summer to fall last week, but the heat is being felt all over Major League Soccer by teams jockeying for playoff positions. 

    Plenty of on-fire forwards helped their respective sides earn three points in the two playoff races in Week 29. 

    Jordan Morris, Ola Kamara, Dom Dwyer and David Villa were among a plethora of top scorers who struck the back of the net in the last week. All of those players are in the top 10 of our latest Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings. 

    Our rankings take into account the last four performances from an individual, with the most recent showing holding more importance. 

    Continue reading to see who landed where in the Week 29 edition of the MLS Player Rankings. 

On the Way Out

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    Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

    A small drop-off in form and the concession of multiple goals knocked these four players out of the top 20 after Week 29. 

             

    Players Dropped Out of Rankings

    Kaka (Orlando City; Previous Ranking: 15)

    Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 18)

    Michael Bradley (Toronto FC; 19) 

    Jake Gleeson (Portland Timbers; 20) 

20. Kelyn Rowe, AM, New England Revolution

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 16 

    The New England attack looked disjointed without Kelyn Rowe in the lineup for the clash with Columbus on Sunday.

    The 24-year-old midfielder entered Week 29 with two goals and two assists in his last three league contests. 

    By losing 2-0 at Mapfre Stadium, the Revolution opened the door for the Crew to climb into the four-way race for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. 

    The Revs currently sit in seventh with 36 points, but every team around them has at least one game in hand. 

19. Jelle Van Damme, CB, LA Galaxy

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Jelle Van Damme and the entire LA Galaxy defense suffered through a rough 90 minutes on Sunday, as the Sounders thrashed them for four tallies. 

    The quartet of goals was the most given up by the Galaxy in 2016. Bruce Arena's side previously let in a pair of three-goal performances against Montreal and Real Salt Lake. 

    The loss at StubHub Center didn't hurt the Galaxy's playoff hopes that much, since they still have a three-point buffer over RSL, but there's a chance that second place could be out of reach if Colorado takes advantage of their two games in hand. 

18. Cyle Larin, FW, Orlando City

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    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Cyle Larin and Orlando City were on the wrong end of a match with major playoff implications for the second consecutive week, as they fell 4-1 to D.C. United on Saturday. 

    The 21-year-old, who was named the top player under 24 by MLSSoccer.com last week, failed to place a shot on target for the second time in three matches. 

    The Lions need more out of their star forward as they grasp for life in the playoff race. Orlando are three points back of D.C. in sixth place but just two ahead of surging Columbus in ninth. 

    Larin has two chances to rebound from his rough Week 29 against Toronto and Montreal in what could end up being a make-or-break week for Orlando's playoff fight. 

17. Michael de Leeuw, FW, Chicago Fire

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Michael de Leeuw failed to contribute to a Chicago goal for the first time since August 24 as the Fire fell to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. 

    The 29-year-old Dutchman came into Friday's Eastern Conference match with three goals and two assists in his last three contests. 

    Despite the setback in the Bronx on Friday, the Fire still have a chance to play the role of spoiler in their last five matches. 

    Chicago have the potential to deliver the ultimate shock of the season if they earn a result in Seattle on Wednesday. 

16. Fanendo Adi, FW, Portland Timbers

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    Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11 

    Portland's chances of repeating as MLS Cup winners took a hit in Week 29 when they fell 3-1 to the worst team in the Western Conference. 

    Fanendo Adi's 90-minute performance against the Houston Dynamo was especially disappointing, as he attempted a single shot that went off target.

    Saturday marked the ninth time this season in which the scorer of 15 goals did not put a shot on target. 

    Caleb Porter's side will need more out of the Nigerian during the closing stretch of the regular season as the Timbers look to fend off the Sounders in the fight for sixth place. 

15. Ethan Finlay, RM, Columbus Crew

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    Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Ethan Finlay was unable to follow up his terrific Week 28 performance with a contribution to the scoresheet on Sunday.

    Despite Finlay's lack of goals or assists in Week 29, the Crew pulled out a vital 2-0 win over New England to keep things interesting near the red line in the Eastern Conference. 

    Sunday's victory at Mapfre Stadium marked the first time since August 13 that the Crew earned a point from a contest in which Finlay did not score or assist in a start. 

14. Juan Agudelo, FW, New England Revolution

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Juan Agudelo cooled off a bit in Columbus, as he didn't produce a goal or an assist for the first time in four matches. 

    The 23-year-old, who has come alive during the Revolution's rush toward the postseason, should still be an important part of the New England attack in October. 

    Each remaining match carries extra importance for the Revs, since they might have to climb out of a hole depending on how Wednesday's matches go. 

    Winning in Week 30 will not be easy when a Sporting KC side hungry to clinch their spot in the postseason comes to Gillette Stadium. 

13. Diego Valeri, AM, Portland Timbers

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    Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    One of the few positives the Timbers took away from BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday was the extension of Diego Valeri's scoring form. 

    The Argentinian midfield mastermind scored for the third time in four games in the defeat to the Dynamo. 

    The tally moved the 30-year-old's season total up to 13. But despite having a pair of double-digit scorers, the Timbers could miss out on the postseason if they slip up once again and Seattle continue to surge. 

    Earning a point from the Rapids during Saturday's trip to Dick's Sporting Goods Park is mandatory for the playoff hopes of the defending champions. 

12. Osvaldo Alonso, CM, Seattle Sounders

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 17

    Osvaldo Alonso is capable of a moment of brilliance on the attacking end every once in a while.

    The defensive midfielder produced that on Sunday when he unleashed a blistering shot from distance into the right side of the net in Seattle's win over the Galaxy. 

    The goal was the second of the season for the 30-year-old, who did not score for the previous three seasons. 

    Alonso also made three tackles and completed 95.5 percent of his 66 passes in the two-goal win at StubHub Center. 

11. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    The league leader in assists came up empty in that category for the third time in his last four starts on Saturday.

    Despite not contributing to a New York Red Bulls goal, Sacha Kljestan delivered three key passes and recorded the third-highest team total in touches with 80. 

    The win over Montreal, combined with Toronto FC's draw at home with Philadelphia, moved the Red Bulls into first place in the Eastern Conference for the time being. 

    Kljestan has three games left to reach the rarified air of a 20-assist season. The Red Bulls face Philadelphia at home on Saturday. 

10. Mauro Manotas, FW, Houston Dynamo

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    The Houston Dynamo proved once again in Week 29 that they will be a team to watch in 2017. 

    Forward Mauro Manotas also displayed his potential in front of net when he scored a hat-trick in the 3-1 win over Portland. 

    The trio of tallies came two matches after the Colombian striker opened his account after 15 games in the league. 

    If the Dynamo continue to create momentum for the offseason during October, we could be talking a lot more about Manotas and his teammates in March. 

9. David Villa, FW, New York City FC

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

    David Villa eclipsed his season scoring total from 2015 with a brace in NYCFC's win over Chicago at Yankee Stadium.

    The 35-year-old designated player, who has been an absolute pleasure to watch since joining MLS, bagged his fifth brace of the season in the 4-1 victory. 

    Villa's two goals also moved him within one of the Golden Boot lead after Bradley Wright-Phillips went scoreless in Week 29. 

    Villa will look to join Wright-Phillips in the 20-goal club on Friday when NYCFC visit Houston in what could be a trap game for the Eastern Conference contenders. 

8. Khiry Shelton, FW, New York City FC

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    Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    One of the best individual attacking stretches of the season has come from an unexpected source. 

    Second-year NYCFC forward Khiry Shelton has handed out five assists in his last four contests as Patrick Vieira's men hunt for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. 

    The 23-year-old moved his season total in assists up to nine on Friday and played a role in three of his club's four tallies. 

    Shelton's performance over the last month is even more impressive when you consider he's only played 155 minutes. 

7. Giovani dos Santos, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Giovani dos Santos added an assist to his growing 2016 totals in his return to the LA Galaxy starting XI on Sunday. 

    The owner of 14 goals and 12 assists recorded a handout on one of the two goals scored by Robbie Keane in the defeat at StubHub Center. 

    Despite providing an assist after missing the Sporting KC match a week ago, Dos Santos fell three spots due to the play of three superb scorers ahead of him. 

6. Dom Dwyer, FW, Sporting Kansas City

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Sporting Kansas City are one of a few clubs benefiting from the play of their star forwards at the moment. 

    Dom Dwyer struck the back of the net for the third match in a row to move his side into fifth place in the Western Conference. 

    With his tally on Saturday, the 26-year-old joined a growing group of MLS forwards with 15 or more goals. 

    There's a good chance Dwyer will keep his scoring run going in Week 30, since he's scored in each of his last two meetings with New England. 

5. Ola Kamara, FW, Columbus Crew

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    Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Ola Kamara's second straight two-goal performance boosted the Crew further into the postseason conversation after Week 29. 

    The Norwegian international, who has five strikes in his last three contests, has come to life at the perfect time after suffering through a dry spell in front of the net. 

    The 26-year-old, who has four multiple-goal performances in 2016, will have to extend his stellar form into Week 30 if the Crew want to keep the pressure on the teams above them in the Eastern Conference standings. 

    If the Crew earn results against D.C. and Chicago in the next week, they will head into the international break with plenty of confidence and a great chance to steal the No. 6 seed. 

4. Jordan Morris, FW, Seattle Sounders

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 10

    Jordan Morris solidified his spot atop a talented a rookie class on Sunday with a brace in Seattle's must-win game against the Galaxy. 

    The Stanford University product, who should win the Rookie of the Year award, also showed that he could score with his left foot, a part of his body he rarely uses. 

    Morris' performance in the final third for the Sounders in the last month is remarkable, considering he's done it without Clint Dempsey in the lineup. 

    If Morris isn't included in the October and November United States men's national team squads, it will be seen as a shock. 

3. Nicolas Lodeiro, CM, Seattle Sounders

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    Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 

    Nicolas Lodeiro's historic start to his time in MLS continued on Sunday when he handed out his eighth assist of the season. 

    Lodeiro joined elite company with his handout in extending his run of contributing at least one goal in eight matches. 

    The 27-year-old Uruguayan is three matches away from tying the league record set by Roy Lassiter, Ronald Cerritos and Mauricio Cienfuegos, per SB Nation's Jeremiah Oshan. 

    What is even more impressive about that list is that a Seattle player has achieved the feat five times. Clint Dempsey and Fredy Montero both did it twice. 

2. Jozy Altidore, FW, Toronto FC

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    Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    Jozy Altidore had one of his worst matches since returning from injury on Saturday in Toronto's 1-1 draw with the Union. 

    The scorer of eight goals since July 31 attempted four shots but failed to put any of them on target as the Reds dropped points at home for the second week in a row. 

    The leader of a group of in-form USMNT forwards has a chance to reach double digits in tallies in Week 30 when he squares off against an Orlando defense susceptible to conceding multiple goals, as well as D.C. United at home.

    A pair of wins in the next five days will also boost the Reds back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. 

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

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    Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Bradley Wright-Phillips' scoring run ended at six matches on Saturday, as the Red Bulls scored a single goal in their win over Montreal. 

    Despite a quiet night in front of goal, Wright-Phillips held on to his lead in the Golden Boot race over a pack of on-fire forwards below him. 

    In order to keep the distance between himself and the chasing pack led by Villa, Wright-Phillips will have to score his first goal of the season against the Union. He picked up an assist in the lone meeting between the clubs on July 17. 

    A win on Saturday would also help the club's quest to earn one of the top two spots in the Eastern Conference. The reward of those positions is a bye into the conference semifinals of the postseason. 

                    

    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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