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MLS Player Rankings Week 13: Vela holds on to top spot, Fernandez makes debut

Of the top players in MLS last week, none impressed more quickly than Brian Fernandez of the Portland Timbers.

For most of the 2019 Major League Soccer season, a select group of superstars have headlined the Pro Soccer USA MLS Player Rankings. 

Due to suspensions and drops in form, a few players fell out of the top five, which allowed a few in-form stars to surge into the top quadrant of the top 20 in-form players in MLS. 

While plenty of change occurred in the top five and top 10, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela remains on top after yet another star performance for the Supporters’ Shield leaders. 

In total, eight new faces are on the list after Week 13, including a Designated Player who has displayed his tremendous skill in a short amount of time.

Our player rankings rate the top 20 players in MLS based on form over the last month, with the most-recent performance carrying a bit more importance.

20. Miles Robinson, D, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 13

May 19, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) controls the ball during the first half against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Even after giving up three goals in the last two games, Atlanta United is tied for the best defensive record in MLS. 

Miles Robinson’s play has been one of the main reasons why the Five Stripes have given up 11 goals in 13 games. 

Robinson might make a push for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Concacaf Gold Cup roster because of all the injuries in defense. 

If he doesn’t make the final cut for the Gold Cup, he’ll be expected to help Atlanta’s surge up the Eastern Conference standings.

19. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: 6

May 11, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) moves in for a shot on goal against New York City during the second half at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Galaxy didn’t miss Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Week 13 as much as they did in Week 12. 

Without the suspended Ibrahimovic, the Galaxy pulled out a 1-0 road result at Orlando City to end their four-game losing streak.

Ibrahimovic will be eligible to be back on the field on Wednesday for the Galaxy’s trip to Sporting Kansas City.

18. Sebastian Saucedo, M, Real Salt Lake

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo scored an identical goal on Friday to the one he scored in Week 12. 

Saucedo’s goal was one of two impressive tallies netted by Real Salt Lake in their 2-1 win over Atlanta United at Rio Tinto Stadium.

RSL’s three-game winning streak has put them up to sixth place in the Western Conference.

17. Brian White, F, New York Red Bulls

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Brian White isn’t the first New York Red Bulls forward we expected to put on this list in 2019. 

The 23-year-old has two goals and an assist in last four games, including a goal on Wednesday and an assist as a substitute on Saturday. 

White is one of many players on the Red Bulls roster who aren’t receiving a ton of attention in the national spotlight for the current run the team is on. Going into Week 14, the Red Bulls have taken 10 points from their last four games. 

16. Diego Valeri, M, Portland Timbers

Previous Ranking: 18 

Diego Valeri finished off Portland’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia with a beautiful finish off a give-and-go with Sebastian Blanco. 

Valeri struck the ball perfectly from outside the box to curl it past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake and into the right side of the net. 

In addition to scoring his third goal in Week 13, Valeri produced his seventh assist on one of two goals scored by club record signing Brian Fernandez.

15. Albert Rusnak, M, Real Salt Lake

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

May 11, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnak (11) drives with the ball in the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Rusnak’s uptick in production in the final third has helped RSL push into the playoff positions in the West standings. 

In Friday’s win over Atlanta United, the Slovakian playmaker assisted on Saucedo’s goal and handed out five key passes.

Rusnak has nine key passes in his last two games and is averaging 3.3 key passes per game, which ties him with Vela for the third-best total in the league. Alejandro Pozuelo and Valeri are the top two in that category.

14. Amro Tarek, D, New York Red Bulls

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

May 25, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Amro Tarek (3) reacts against FC Cincinnati in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

During their four-game unbeaten run, the Red Bulls defense has given up three goals, with two of them coming on Wednesday with a rotated squad against Vancouver. 

Amro Tarek, who was acquired from Orlando City for a fourth-round draft pick in the offseason, has been a key component of the Red Bulls back four. 

In Saturday’s road win over FC Cincinnati, Tarek and the Red Bulls defense held the expansion side to four shots on target.

13. Diego Chara, M, Portland Timbers

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

May 25, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara (21) is taken down by Philadelphia Union midfielder Jamiro Monteiro (35) during the first half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The always underappreciated Diego Chara turned in one of his best performances of the season on Saturday night. 

The Colombian defensive midfielder disrupted the majority of Philadelphia’s attacks and started a few successful counters for the Timbers at Talen Energy Stadium. 

Chara and his teammates carry plenty of momentum in to Saturday’s home opener at Providence Park with four wins and a draw in their last six games.

12. Aleksandar Katai, M, Chicago Fire

Previous Ranking: 14

May 25, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire forward Aleksandar Katai (10) kicks the ball past New York City midfielder Alexandru Mitrita (28) during the first half at SeatGeek Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Aleksandar Katai once again put his best foot forward in the final third for the Chicago Fire in their 1-1 draw with New York City FC. 

Katai, who scored a goal in each of the last two games, was the Fire’s most active attacker with three shots and two key passes. 

11. Mark-Anthony Kaye, M, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 

May 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye (14) moves the ball ahead of Montreal Impact midfielder Shamit Shome (28) during the second half at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Mark-Anthony Kaye had another solid week in the LAFC midfield, but he wasn’t the most dynamic performer of the 11 Black-and-Gold players on the field.

Kaye recorded the most touches on the field with 122, but he wasn’t directly involved with one of the four goals scored on Friday. 

Kaye completed 86.1 percent of his 108 passes, made a pair of tackles and won two aerial duels against Montreal.

10. Alejandro Pozuelo, M, Toronto FC

Previous Ranking: 

May 15, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC forward Alejandro Pozuelo (10) driblbles the ball against D.C. United at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Pozuelo was one of two superstars on this list who missed out on Week 13 due to a red-card suspension.

Unlike Ibrahimovic, Pozuelo served a one-game ban, but Toronto FC missed him dearly as the Reds fell 2-1 at home to San Jose. 

9. Josef Martinez, F, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 10 

The reigning Golden Boot winner scored for the second time in three games in Atlanta United’s loss to RSL. 

Josef Martinez made a terrific run around a defender to latch on to Franco Escobar’s cross from the right wing, but the lone goal from the Venezuelan wasn’t enough to earn a point for the Five Stripes. 

Martinez should be able to add to his current haul of six goals in Week 14 with matchups at home against Minnesota United and Chicago. 

8. Johnny Russell, M, Sporting Kansas City

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Johnny Russell singlehandedly pulled Sporting Kansas City out of its slump on Sunday by scoring his second hat-trick for the club. 

The best goal of the three scored by the MLS Player of the Week was his second, when he carved through the right side of the box past a few Seattle defenders. 

The goals were the first for Russell in league play since April 7 and the victory was Sporting KC’s first since March 30. 

7. Kacper Przybylko, F, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 7

Philadelphia had an overall disappointing night against Portland, but Kacper Przybylko was still able to find the back of the net for the fourth time this season. 

The German-born Polish forward also struck the post on two occasions, with one of them coming in the second half off a rebound created by a Steve Clark save. 

Despite a two-game gap between goals, Przybylko has still been active in front of goal with five of his nine shots going on goal in the last three matches. 

6. Nani, M, Orlando City

Previous Ranking: 2

May 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City SC forward Nani (17) dribbles the ball as Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos (8) defends during the first half at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After finding the back of the net twice in Week 13, Nani failed to follow that performance up with another tally.

The Portuguese winger was denied from the spot in Orlando City’s 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy, which was one of many impressive saves made by Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham.

5. Brian Fernandez, M, Portland Timbers

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Brian Fernandez has made his presence known in MLS in just 115 minutes. 

The record signing for the Timbers scored two goals in his first MLS start on Saturday to follow up his debut goal two weeks ago as a substitute. 

Three of Fernandez’s first four shots on goal as a Portland player have found the back of the net. 

4. Romain Metanire, D, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 12 

The best in-form defender in MLS added a goal to his season highlight reel on Saturday night.

Romain Metanire scored on a cross that was deflected from the right wing to hand Minnesota United a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo.

Metanire added three key passes going forward and limited the effectiveness of Romell Quioto, Memo Rodriguez and Mauro Manotas on the defensive side of the ball. 

3. Eduard Atuesta, M, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 

May 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Montreal Impact forward Maximiliano Urruti (37) moves the ball past Los Angeles FC midfielder Eduard Atuesta (20) during the second half at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Eduard Atuesta delivered one of the best passes of the week on LAFC’s first goal on Friday night.

The Colombian midfielder threaded the ball through a pair of defenders to pick out Vela for his 28th-minute strike. 

Atuesta continued to pass at a high rate in the win over Montreal by completing 86.1 percent of his 79 passes. 

2. Chris Wondolowski, F, San Jose Earthquakes

Previous Ranking: 5

It was always going to be hard for Chris Wondolowski to follow up his four-goal performance in which he broke the MLS regular-season scoring record. 

Although he didn’t score four against Toronto FC, Wondolowski netted a pair of tallies to earn a San Jose victory and become the first player to reach 150 MLS regular-season goals./ 

Both of the goals scored in the come-from-behind win were quintessential Wondo strikes. On the first goal, he created space from a defender and slotted the ball into the back of the net and he was in the right place to knock in a cross for the game-winner at BMO Field. 

1. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: 

If Vela didn’t score in Week 13, we would’ve made a compelling case to replace him with Wondo on top of the list.

However, the Mexican international didn’t slow down against Montreal by scoring once and assisting on one of LAFC’s four strikes. 

In 15 games, the 30-year-old has 15 goals and nine assists. He has contributed directly to 24 of LAFC’s 36 goals. 

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