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MLS Player Rankings Week 19: Mason Toye rises into top five

There’s also a new No. 1 this week, with Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez overtaking LAFC’s Carlos Vela with his eighth goal in the last five games.

May 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) blocks a shot attempt by Minnesota United forward Mason Toye (23) in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

The reigning Major League Soccer Golden Boot winner and Most Valuable Player is locked in a contentious battle with the favorite for both of those honors in 2019 for the top spot in the Pro Soccer USA MLS Player Rankings. 

Although Carlos Vela has been in form all season, Josef Martinez is the hotter of the two strikers after Week 19. 

The Atlanta United scoring ace is one of many in-form scorers who have surged up the list in recent weeks to mount a challenge to Vela, who has held the top spot for the majority of the campaign.

Joining Vela and Martinez in the top five this week is Mason Toye, who has put together a remarkable run in front of net for a surging Minnesota United side. 

Our player rankings take into account the form of players over the last four games, with the most recent performance carrying a bit more weight. The list is based off MLS regular-season performances only. 

20. Brian White, F, New York Red Bulls

Previous Ranking: 17 

Jul 14, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Brian White (42) and New York City FC defender Maxime Chanot (4) battle for the ball during the second half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

After scoring three goals in four games, Brian White was unable to find the back of the net, although he drew a penalty kick for the New York Red Bulls in the Hudson River Derby.

White only fired one shot on goal in the 2-1 victory over New York City FC, but that is not an unusual number for a player with six goals on eight shots on target. 

With Bradley Wright-Phillips returning to full fitness, it will be interesting to see how Chris Armas utilizes White, who is more than deserving of meaningful minutes. 

19. Ethan Finlay, M, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 11 

Jul 6, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact midfielder Samuel Piette (6) falls in front of Minnesota United midfielder Ethan Finlay (13) after battling for the ball during the second half at Stade Saputo. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

Ethan Finlay’s point streak came to an end in Minnesota United’s 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Saturday. 

The former Columbus winger entered Week 19 with two goals and two assists in his last three contests. 

The 28-year-old could face difficulty getting back on the scoresheet in Week 20 with a tough road trip to Real Salt Lake on the docket. 

18. Brian Fernandez, F, Portland Timbers

Previous Ranking: 7

Jul 13, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Timbers forward Brian Fernandez (7) kicks the ball on goal during the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Providence Park. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

After lighting MLS nets on fire in his first five league games, Brian Fernandez has not scored in his last two appearances. 

On Saturday, Fernandez made a 30-minute cameo off the bench for the Portland Timbers and fired two shots on target. 

Fernandez has two chances to get back to his scoring ways in Week 20, with a home match against Orlando City Thursday and a Cascadia Cup clash with the Seattle Sounders Sunday. 

17. Justin Meram, M, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 6

Jul 7, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Sean Nealis (15) and Atlanta United forward Justin Meram (14) battle for a ball in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Justin Meram could not replicate his blazing-hot form from his last two starts Sunday at CenturyLink Field. 

The midfielder failed to fire a single shot off in Atlanta United’s defeat at the hands of the Seattle Sounders. 

Just like some of the other players who experienced drops this week, Meram has two chances to get back into the top 10 in Week 20, with the Five Stripes facing Houston and D.C. at home. 

16. Jefferson Savarino, M, Real Salt Lake

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 13, 2019; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake forward Jefferson Savarino (7) battles against Philadelphia Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson (22) in the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

Jefferson Savarino scored his first two goals for Real Salt Lake since returning from the Copa America Saturday. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan capitalized on a pair of Philadelphia Union defensive lapses to deposit his fourth and fifth tallies of the season.

The MLS Player of the Week also picked up an assist in the 4-0 victory over the first-place team in the Eastern Conference. 

15. Carles Gil, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: 18 

Jul 4, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; New England Revolution forward Carles Gil (22) passes a free kick in the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports)

Carles Gil continued his consistent season in the final third for New England with a goal in Friday’s 2-2 draw with D.C. United. 

The Spanish midfield maestro scored his fifth goal of the season to help Bruce Arena’s side move into the top seven in the Eastern Conference.

Gil’s production should rise once new signing Gustavo Bou adds more quality to New England’s forward corps. 

14. Nicolas Gaitan, M, Chicago Fire

Previous Ranking: 15 

Jul 13, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire midfielder Nicolas Gaitan (20) before the game against FC Cincinnati at SeatGeek Stadium. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

Nicolas Gaitan continues to be one of the few bright spots for the Chicago Fire. 

The 31-year-old Argentinian scored his fourth goal in a Chicago shirt in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to FC Cincinnati at SeatGeek Stadium. 

In 14 games, Gaitan has four goals and eight assists, but unfortunately for Fire fans, the rest of his teammates have not been able to rise to that high level of production. 

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

Previous Ranking: 10 

Jul 12, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye (14) controls the ball as Houston Dynamo midfielder Tomas Martinez (10) defends during the first half at BBVA Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Mark-Anthony Kaye’s small slide has more to do with players surging into the rankings than his individual play.

In fact, Kaye had one of the more impressive weeks in terms of individual feats since he played in both the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal Wednesday and regular-season game on Friday for Los Angeles FC. 

Kaye and the LAFC midfield unit helped quite Houston’s attack in the 3-1 win at BBVA Stadium.

12. Gerso Fernandes, M, Sporting Kansas City 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jun 12, 2019; St. Paul, MN, USA; Sporting KC forward Gerso Fernandes (12) celebrates his goal with midfielder Jimmy Medranda (94) in the first half against Minnesota United at Allianz Field. (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Over the last two games, Gerso Fernandes has been the driving force of the Sporting Kansas City attack. 

The 28-year-old picked up a goal and an assist in Sporting KC’s 3-0 win over Vancouver on Saturday, and the first tally was an own goal caused by a shot from Gerso. 

The performance came one week after Gerso dominated the final third and did everything but score in the Week 18 victory over Chicago that got Peter Vermes’ side back on track. 

11. Vako, M, San Jose Earthquakes

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Jul 12, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Vako Kazaishvili (11) moves the ball against the LA Galaxy in the first half at Dignity Health Sports Park. The Earthquakes defeated the Galaxy 3-1. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Maybe we were a bit too harsh taking Vako off the list last week since he has been a consistent performer over the last few weeks for the San Jose Earthquakes. 

The Republic of Georgia international produced a goal and an assist for the second time in four games, both of which have come against the LA Galaxy. 

Vako put four of his 10 shots on target Friday night in a 3-1 win in which the San Jose attackers thoroughly dominated.

10. Adama Diomande, F, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Jul 12, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande (99) controls the ball during the first half against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

With Carlos Vela sitting out Friday night, Adama Diomande thrived in front of net for the league’s best team. 

The 29-year-old scored on two occasions and assisted on a third goal to help LAFC continue to control the Western Conference. 

In his last two starts, Diomande has produced three goals for a LAFC side that seems to have everything going for it in league play. 

9. Daniel Royer, M, New York Red Bulls

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Jul 14, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) reacts after scoring a goal against the New York City FC during the first half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

Daniel Royer was slowly climbing up the MLS scoring chart without much fanfare before Sunday. 

The Austrian then put his scoring surge on display for everyone to see by picking up a brace in the Hudson River Derby. 

Since the end of the Concacaf Gold Cup break, Royer has four goals and two assists over a four-game span. 

8. Teal Bunbury, F, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Jun 29, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Teal Bunbury (10) reacts after his goal during the second half against the Houston Dynamo at Gillette Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

When you talk about the hottest scorers in MLS, Teal Bunbury certainly isn’t the first name to come to mind with so many high-profile players across the league. 

But since the return of league play, the 29-year-old has been one of the top in-form forwards in the league with goals in three straight games for the Revs. 

The uptick in production comes at a perfect time for Bunbury since the Revs just spent a ton of money on a big-name signing up top.

7. Ike Opara, D, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 

Jun 8, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara (23) Minnesota United defender Ike Opara (3) battle in the first half at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Ike Opara is the top defender on this week’s list for good reasons.

With Opara in the back, Minnesota United have conceded two goals in 270 minutes since the resumption of league play. 

In the one game Opara did not start July 6, the Loons gave up a pair of strikes to the Montreal Impact. 

6. Kacper Przybylko, F, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 4

Jul 13, 2019; Sandy, UT, USA; Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko (23) and Real Salt Lake midfielder Everton Luiz (25) battle in the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

Kacper Przybylko and the entire Philadelphia Union squad had an off night at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday. 

For the first time in six games, Przybylko failed to put a single shot on target for the top side in the East. 

Keeping Przybylko near the top of the list are the four goals he has scored in the last four contests. 

5. Maxi Moralez, M, New York City FC 

Previous Ranking: 

Jul 14, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York City FC midfielder Maximiliano Moralez (10) dribbles the ball against the New York Red Bulls during the second half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

Although NYCFC failed to earn a result in the Hudson River Derby, Maxi Moralez was able to produce his 12th assist of the campaign.

The reigning MLS Player of the Month has recorded at least one assist in six of his last nine league games. 

After a long spell of games in the New York area, Moralez and NYCFC take their talents to the road in Week 20 to face Colorado. 

4. Mason Toye, F, Minnesota United

Previous Ranking: 9

Jul 13, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota United midfielder Mason Toye (23) and goalie Vito Mannone (1) after the game against FC Dallas at Allianz Field. (Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Mason Toye’s form in front of goal for Minnesota United is one of the best stories of the middle of the season. 

The No. 7 pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft racked up his fourth goal of 2019 in dramatic fashion in stoppage time against FC Dallas Saturday. 

In four appearances since June 29, Toye has four goals and two assists after struggling to find his way on to the field at the start of year. 

3. Diego Rossi, F, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: 5

Jul 12, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi (9) celebrates after scoring a goal during the second half against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Diego Rossi scored his 11th goal of 2019 in a substitute appearance in LAFC’s impressive victory over Houston. 

Friday’s strike extended Rossi’s scoring streak to three games and put him one tally away from matching his 12-goal total from 2018. 

Rossi has a good chance to tie, or even break, that mark this Friday night in El Trafico against a shaky LA Galaxy defense. 

2. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 

Jul 10, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) moves the ball ahead of Portland Timbers defender Zarek Valentin (16) during the first half at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

For the second time in three weeks, Carlos Vela is not in the No. 1 position.

Vela has been MLS’ best performer all season, but there are a few small things going against him that allowed a one-spot drop.

In addition to sitting out in Week 19, Vela has a gap in his scoring run since he failed to find the back of the net against Colorado June 28. That is the slight difference between Vela and Josef Martinez, at least for one week. 

1. Josef Martinez, F, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: 3

Jun 1, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Fire during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Jun 1, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Fire during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Josef Martinez failed to extend his streak of two-goal games to four Saturday, but he still found of the back of the net for the Five Stripes. 

Dating back to May 24, Martinez has scored five consecutive games, with eight tallies coming from those contests. 

While his scoring run has been nothing short of impressive, Martinez is still six goals back of Vela in the Golden Boot race.

 

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