Welcome to the Pro Soccer USA Major League Soccer Player Rankings.
Each week we will rank the best players in the league, starting with the best 10 players from the Week 1 slate.
For the first edition of the player rankings, we ranked players based on their Week 1 performances by taking into account statistics and how big of an impact each star had on their respective teams. As the weeks move on, the players in the best extended form will continue to reside near the top of the rankings, with some extra weight placed on the most-recent performance.
Our in-market MLS writers across the country helped suggest names that should make the cut, and throughout the season, you’ll see their feedback added to the rankings. So with the introduction out of the way, let’s delve into the top performers from Week 1.
10. Benny Feilhaber, Colorado Rapids
Benny Feilhaber scored once and played a large role in Colorado’s efforts moving forward in the Rapids’ 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers.
Feilhaber, who is playing for his fourth MLS club, scored in the 46th minute to level the game 2-2 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 3, 2019
From his deeper-lying position, Feilhaber made a pair of clearances and interceptions and completed 85.3 percent of his passes.
As the season goes on, it’ll be interesting to see how Rapids manager Anthony Hudson deploys the MLS veteran with Kellyn Acosta alongside Feilhaber in midfield and a decent stable of attackers in front of him.
9. Frederic Brillant, D.C. United
Frederic Brillant anchored the only defensive unit to earn a clean sheet in Week 1, beating reigning MLS champ Atlanta United 2-0.
Brillant and D.C. United’s back line limited Atlanta United to two shots on target in the pouring rain at Audi Field.
The 33-year-old totaled seven clearances and four tackles in his attempts to steer Josef Martinez and Co. away from the net.
The most impressive part of D.C.’s defensive effort was it held Martinez, Hector Villalba and Ezequiel Barco without a shot on goal.
8. Eduard Atuesta, LAFC
Eduard Atuesta had one of the most underrated performances of opening weekend, and that’s exactly what you want out of your defensive-minded midfielder if you’re LAFC.
Atuesta’s most notable contribution was his assist on Diego Rossi’s 47th-minute equalizer during an intense 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City at Banc of California Stadium.
The 21-year-old was one of the most active players on the ball in Week 1. He made 96 touches and completed 89.7 percent of his 78 passes.
Although there will be other players on the LAFC roster who receive more of the spotlight, Atuesta is going to be one of the club’s most important keys to success in 2019.
7. Francisco Calvo, Minnesota United
A large amount of criticism has been directed at Minnesota United defender Francisco Calvo during his time in MLS.
On Saturday, the Costa Rican was the recipient of praise for his performance in a fullback role during the Loons’ 3-2 road win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Calvo did a little bit of everything. He scored a goal, made six interceptions, two clearances and won three aerial duels. If the 26-year-old is able to produce at a similar rate for most of the season, the Loons will take a step up in the Western Conference.
6. Albert Rusnak, Real Salt Lake
Albert Rusnak made his presence known in the final third during Real Salt Lake’s 1-1 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium with the Houston Dynamo.
The Slovakian playmaker scored the Claret and Cobalt’s only goal of the contest in the 40th minute off an assist from Corey Baird.
Albert picks up right where he left off. pic.twitter.com/tmKD6JYbb7
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) March 3, 2019
In total, Rusnak produced five key passes and two shots on target with his 57 touches in the road draw.
Rusnak’s performance Saturday was the perfect example of what the club hopes to get from him on a regular basis after scoring 10 goals a year ago.
5. Paul Arriola, D.C. United
Paul Arriola’s goal right before halftime Sunday was a deserved reward for the U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder’s first-half performance.
On an ugly night in the nation’s capital, Arriola was everywhere in the first half for the Black and Red, and he benefited from the continuation of a run toward the left post to finish off his team’s first goal of 2019.
— D.C. United (@dcunited) March 4, 2019
While Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta will receive most of the spotlight throughout the season, Arriola is one of the players the Black and Red need to step up in order to challenge the likes of Atlanta and the New York Red Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
4. Saphir Taider, Montreal Impact
Normally when we talk about a standout player for the Montreal Impact, it’s Ignacio Piatti, but we have a feeling we’ll be talking more about Saphir Taider this year as well.
Taider’s move to the Impact flew under the radar a bit in 2018, but he performed well in his first season in Quebec, and picked up where he left off in Saturday’s 2-1 win against the San Jose Earthquakes.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 3, 2019
The 27-year-old midfielder assisted on Piatti’s 20th-minute strike and then scored himself in the 44th minute to put Remi Garde’s side in the lead for good.
Taider totaled four shots and four key passes in his season debut, and he’ll look to replicate that performance on the road in Week 2 in Houston.
3. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC
Any one of the top three players could’ve been No. 1, and it was hard to label Michael Bradley with the No. 3 tag, especially since he doesn’t score much.
Bradley delivered his first two-goal performance in a Toronto FC shirt, and the Reds bounced back from their Concacaf Champions League exit with a 3-1 road win over the Philadelphia Union.
Leading the Golden Boot pres. by Audi race: Michael Bradley. 😉 pic.twitter.com/uKFFUwLptN
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 2, 2019
The TFC captain benefited from open space at the top of the penalty area on two occasions to send Toronto to the top of the Eastern Conference standings after Week 1.
After one week, Bradley is tied with Jordan Morris for the Golden Boot lead.
2. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
Morris is ahead of Bradley because he played so well in his first regular-season game back from an ACL injury.
The USMNT forward played some of the best soccer he ever has for the Sounders in Saturday’s 4-1 trouncing of expansion side FC Cincinnati, in which he scored twice.
HE'S BACK ALRIGHT! 🔥
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 3, 2019
Not only did Morris’ return help boost the Sounders’ early-season credentials to top the West, it put him directly into the USMNT conversation.
With the forward depth chart still up in the air behind Jozy Altidore, Morris has an opportunity to earn a Gold Cup roster spot if he puts together an extended run of form.
1. Darwin Quintero, Minnesota United
Although Darwin Quintero didn’t score twice like Bradley and Morris, he played a role in all three of Minnesota United’s goals in the win over Vancouver.
Quintero’s performance made the biggest impact in Week 1, as he helped the Loons, who were 1-14-1 on the road in 2018, open their season with a victory over the new-look Whitecaps at BC Place.
One, two, three and to the four…
…Darwin Quintero and Francisco Calvo are at the door pic.twitter.com/SY1afDQ1M6
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) March 3, 2019
The 31-year-old’s performance was an extension of the form he ended with in 2018, as he had one goal and six assists in September and October.
We’re not saying the Loons are instantly a playoff contender after winning one road game, but we’re certain we’ll be talking about them more in 2019, especially if Quintero continues his high level of production.