MLS Player Rankings: BWP Remains on Top, Piatti, Mullins Surge Up List

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 18, 2016

MLS Player Rankings: BWP Remains on Top, Piatti, Mullins Surge Up List

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    Shaun Clark/Getty Images

    As the best teams in Major League Soccer jockey for position in the standings, the league's best players are all trying to knock Bradley Wright-Phillips from the top spot in the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings. 

    Despite the efforts of many, Wright-Phillips kept his No. 1 spot for another week after a splendid performance at Red Bull Arena on Sunday.

    Beneath the New York Red Bulls striker is a group of forwards rounding into form at the right time, an unexpected new addition to the top 10 and plenty of D.C. United talent thanks to the Black and Red's recent form. 

    Our player rankings take into account the last four performances from a certain player, with the most recent one holding the most stock. 

    Continue reading to see who else was named to the Week 33 edition of the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings. 

On the Way out

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    Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Lack of production in front of the net and defensive performances that were average at best cost these players their spots in the top 20 after Week 33.

    Players Dropped out of Rankings

    Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; Previous Ranking: 9) 

    Ola Kamara (Columbus Crew; 10)

    Andoni Iraola (New York City FC; 16)

    Evan Bush (Montreal Impact; 17)

    Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers; 18)

    Michael Bradley (Toronto FC; 19)

    Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union; 20) 

20. Nick Rimando, GK, Real Salt Lake

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    Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Real Salt Lake have Nick Rimando to thank for avoiding a slide beneath the red line.

    The experienced netminder made five saves in Sunday's scoreless draw against Sporting Kansas City to move the Claret and Cobalt into fourth place in the Western Conference. 

    The 37-year-old has been one of the few bright spots of late for RSL as he's let in three goals in the last four contests.

    However, Rimando's performances have gone to waste due to the lack of production in the RSL attack. Jeff Cassar's men have scored once in the last five matches. 

19. Steve Birnbaum, CB, D.C. United

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    D.C. United have earned a lot of attention for their attacking prowess over the last month, but the back line has put together a string of solid performances as well.

    United States men's national team regular Steve Birnbaum has been a part of a defense that's conceded on three occasions in the last four contests. 

    The 25-year-old is averaging 3.9 clearances and three interceptions per game next to wily veteran Bobby Boswell in the back four. 

    Ben Olsen's side have lost just one since July 31. That form could lead them all the way to the MLS Cup as long as the Black and Red can find a way past the New York Red Bulls. 

18. Juan Agudelo, FW, New England Revolution

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 8

    The New England Revolution's playoff dream was cut short on Sunday as they fell 2-1 to the Chicago Fire. 

    Juan Agudelo was active in the final third for Jay Heaps' side as he attempted five shots, but of none of them reached the target at Toyota Park. 

    The defeat essentially eliminated the Revs from playoff contention. They would need to make up a 12-goal margin in the goal differential column to overtake Philadelphia for sixth on Decision Day. 

17. Walker Zimmerman, CB, FC Dallas

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 15

    Walker Zimmerman and his FC Dallas teammates moved one step closer to clinching the Supporters' Shield with a 2-1 win over Seattle on Sunday. 

    Zimmerman was a part of defense that limited the Sounders to three shots on target in the critical contest at Toyota Stadium. 

    The 23-year-old totaled seven clearances, two interceptions and a blocked shot on a personal level on Sunday. 

    If Oscar Pareja's men earn a point against the LA Galaxy on Decision Day, they'll eclipse the 60-point mark and win the Supporters' Shield. 

16. Mauro Manotas, FW, Houston Dynamo

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Mauro Manotas was unable to match his superb goal production from the last few weeks in Houston's two Week 33 matches. 

    The 21-year-old designated player entered as a substitute in the second half of the Dynamo's scoreless draw with Seattle on Wednesday and he put a single shot on target against the Galaxy on Sunday. 

    Manotas will have one more chance to replicate his pair of multiple-goal performances from the last month on Decision Day as the Dynamo try to play spoiler against the Colorado Rapids. 

15. Lamar Neagle, LM, D.C. United

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Lamar Neagle didn't have to shine in a substitute role on Sunday since D.C. already had three points wrapped up by the time he entered in the 74th minute. 

    The super sub, who has three goals and two assists in his last four appearances, is expected to be a key cog in the D.C. attack as the postseason begins. 

    Neagle may not start like he did against Toronto on October 1, but he can play a big role off the bench like he did in successive games against Orlando City and Columbus. 

14. Khiry Shelton, FW, New York City FC

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 12 

    Most of the New York City FC attack was forced into a silent day at RFK Stadium by the D.C. United defense. 

    Second-year man Khiry Shelton, who contributed three assists in a recent match against Chicago, saw his playing time diminish once again as he only played for 56 minutes. 

    The key for NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira entering the postseason will be getting the best out of young players in a pressure-packed scenario.

    If Shelton, Jack Harrison and others are able to operate around David Villa, NYCFC have the potential to make a deep postseason run. 

13. Giovani Dos Santos, FW, LA Galaxy

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    Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Giovani dos Santos' sudden attacking outburst seems like such a long time ago, but in reality it occurred just over a month ago. 

    Since producing five goals and four assists in a three-game span, the Mexico international has a lone assist to his name in three matches. 

    Dos Santos doesn't necessarily have to find the back of the net in the high-powered Galaxy attack, but he has to be able to set up chances with his movement and combination play in the final third in order for Bruce Arena's side to go far in the playoffs. 

    The Galaxy, who have the third seed in the Western Conference locked up, will look to play spoiler in FC Dallas' Supporters' Shield quest on Sunday at StubHub Center. 

12. Bobby Boswell, CB, D.C. United

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    The D.C. defense is playing so well at the moment that we decided to honor both of their center backs with spots on the list after Week 33.

    Bobby Boswell played a bigger role in Sunday's success against NYCFC than Birnbaum as he contributed a headed goal off a Lloyd Sam corner kick.

    The 33-year-old has also impressed on the defensive side of the pitch, as he's averaging 4.7 clearances and 1.9 interceptions per contest. 

    If the Black and Red finish up the regular season with a win over Orlando City, they will be guaranteed fourth place in the Eastern Conference and a home game in the knockout round against either Montreal or Philadelphia. 

11. David Accam, FW, Chicago Fire

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    David Accam earned a good number of fans in Philadelphia on Sunday as his play in the Fire's win over the Revolution helped the struggling Union all but secure the sixth playoff position in the Eastern Conference. 

    The Ghanaian winger produced a goal and an assist in Chicago's 2-1 win at home that handed the club a decent amount of momentum heading into Decision Day.

    Another win in Week 34 against Toronto would build a solid foundation for 2017 for the Fire, who will look to return to prominence in Veljko Paunovic's second year as manager. 

10. Osvaldo Alonso, CM, Seattle Sounders

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Osvaldo Alonso did not participate in the weekend's festivities after he was handed a red card in Wednesday's match against the Dynamo.

    The midfield bulldog for the Sounders will be needed in every aspect of the game on Decision Day as Seattle attempt to lock down a playoff berth at home against Real Salt Lake. 

    A win over RSL would clinch a spot in the postseason, while a draw would do neither team any good, as they are two of four clubs looking to solidify a place in the top six after Sunday. 

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

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Ben Olsen continues to look like a genius for pulling off the midseason trade that brought Patrick Mullins to D.C. United from NYCFC. 

    The 24-year-old bagged his eighth goal of the season in the win against his former club at RFK Stadium, and he added his second assist of the year in the 3-1 victory. 

    Mullins and fellow midseason acquisition Lloyd Sam have boosted a D.C. team that appeared to have no life during the dog days of summer. 

    With one regular-season match remaining, the Black and Red are one of the favorites to make a run toward MLS Cup. 

8. Adam Jahn, FW, Columbus Crew

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Adam Jahn is one of the more unexpected faces to land a spot in the top 20 all season. 

    The 25-year-old, who was acquired by Columbus from the San Jose Earthquakes in late July, scored three goals in the last week in place of Ola Kamara in the Crew lineup.

    Jahn bagged a brace in Thursday's draw with the Fire and scored one of the club's two strikes at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. 

    The performances were a nice consolation prize for Jahn, whose club earned one point over the last week despite scoring four times. 

7. Ignacio Piatti, FW, Montreal Impact

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    If you're looking for an under-the-radar pick for Most Valuable Player, Ignacio Piatti is your man. 

    The Argentinian playmaker continued his impressive season in the Montreal attack with a pair of tallies in the 2-2 draw with Toronto on Sunday. 

    The 31-year-old, who is much more valuable than Didier Drogba to the Impact, has 17 goals and six assists in 31 matches. 

    Although his numbers may not be as eye-popping as the other candidates for MVP, Piatti's impact on his club has been the same, if not bigger. 

6. Nicolas Lodeiro, CAM, Seattle Sounders

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Nicolas Lodeiro's goal at Toyota Stadium on Sunday was one of the few things celebrated by the Seattle Sounders over the last seven days.

    Instead of clinching a playoff spot against Houston or FC Dallas, the Sounders earned a point from the two contests and left themselves vulnerable heading into Decision Day. 

    Lodeiro's fourth tally of the season ended a personal drought of two games without a goal or assist. 

    Since joining MLS in July, Lodeiro has failed to contribute to a Seattle goal in three of his 12 matches. 

5. Dom Dwyer, FW, Sporting Kansas City

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Dom Dwyer is another superstar who will be chasing a playoff spot on Decision Day.

    Sporting Kansas City's scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake on Sunday did nothing to help the club's playoff status. 

    Despite putting three shots on target at Rio Tinto Stadium, Dwyer's four-game scoring streak came to an end.

    Beating San Jose on Decision Day would be ideal for Peter Vermes' side. A draw or loss would subject their postseason fate to results elsewhere. 

4. Sacha Kljestan, CM, New York Red Bulls

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    Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 5

    Sacha Kljestan moved within one assist of 20 on Sunday as he handed out his 18th and 19th assists of the season in the New York Red Bulls' 3-2 win over the Crew. 

    Kljestan, who has 33 assists in his last two seasons, is one of a few players atop the shortlist for MVP. 

    The win over Columbus essentially locked the Red Bulls into the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls would have to lose to the Union and NYCFC would have to make up 13 goals in the goal differential column on Sunday for that to change. 

    Kljestan has a good chance of eclipsing the 20-assist mark against Philadelphia since he recorded a goal and an assist just three weeks ago against Jim Curtin's side. 

3. Jozy Altidore, FW, Toronto FC

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    It's rare that a goal and an assist will drop a player a spot on this list, but the player who jumped Jozy Altidore this week is in spectacular form. 

    As for Altidore, he moved into double digits in the goal column with his strike against the Impact at Stade Saputo on Sunday. 

    All 10 of the tallies have come since July 31, when Altidore began working his way back to full fitness. 

    An in-form Altidore and a recovering Sebastian Giovinco could terrorize opposing defenses in the postseason and lead the Reds to the biggest accomplishments in franchise history. 

2. David Villa, FW, New York City FC

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    It's hard to believe David Villa is flying under the radar at the moment, but that's what the Spaniard and his NYCFC teammates are doing. 

    Not much attention has been paid to Patrick Vieira's side over the last month or so due to the recent surges of the Red Bulls and D.C. United. 

    Villa and his teammates were outclassed by D.C. on Sunday, but they remain in second place in the Eastern Conference with one match remaining. 

    Expect the designated played to find the back of the net once again on Decision Day, just like he has on five occasions in the last three matches, as NYCFC look to lock up second place. 

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

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Bradley Wright-Phillips is the top player in the MLS Player Rankings for the fourth consecutive week and the sixth time in seven weeks. 

    Given how well the players beneath him have played during the same span, that is an impressive accomplishment for Wright-Phillips. 

    The 31-year-old kept his lead atop the Golden Boot race with a brace in the win over Columbus on Sunday. He remains one tally ahead of Villa entering Decision Day. 

    Wright-Phillips has found the back of the net seven times since the start of September and on 11 occasions since August began. 

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

    All statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com and WhoScored.com.