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MLS Player Rankings Week 5: Vela, Rooney in top spots going into head-to-head clash

LAFC's Carlos Vela tops Pro Soccer USA's player rankings for Week 5. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)

Some of the highest-profile players in Major League Soccer took center stage in Week 5. 

For their performances this weekend, Carlos Vela and Wayne Rooney landed at the top of our MLS Player Rankings.

In the bottom half of the top 20, six players entered the list after they shined in their respective contests. While the most-recent showing from every player carries weight, we also take into consideration weeks of form, which is why a few players remained on the list despite rough Week 5 outings.

20. Nicolas Lodeiro, M, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: 11

Mar 30, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia: Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (10) tackles Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jake Nerwinski (28) at BC Place. (Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports)

Seattle’s attack came to a standstill on the turf at BC Place on Saturday night. The Sounders played to a scoreless draw in their first Cascadia Cup game of the season. 

Nicolas Lodeiro was active on the ball with 94 touches and two key passes, but couldn’t spur a strike into the back of the net. 

Lodeiro ended March with one goal and three assists, which is why he remains at the back end of the list going into April.

19. Kai Wagner, D, Philadelphia Union

Mar 2, 2019; Chester, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner (27) in action against Toronto FC at Talen Energy Stadium. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Previous Ranking: 19

Kai Wagner remains near the bottom of the top 20 because of the surge of attackers who entered the list above him after Week 5. 

The Philadelphia Union defender has been one of the surprise performers of the MLS campaign since he was plucked out of the German third division during the offseason. 

In Week 5, Wagner and the Union back line held FC Cincinnati scoreless for their second straight clean sheet. 

18. Carles Gil, M, New England Revolution

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Mar 30, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gil (22) turns away from Minnesota United midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (6) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

In all honesty, Carles Gil should’ve been ranked a week or two ago. He’s been one of the few bright spots for the New England Revolution.

The 26-year-old Spaniard picked up his first assist of the season on Jalil Anibaba’s opener in the Revs’ win over Minnesota United. Gil is up to three goals and an assist through five games. 

“Carles Gil was again the most dominant player for the New England Revolution this weekend. He recorded his first MLS assist by setting up Jalil Anibaba’s opening score on Saturday against Minnesota. Gil accounted for 10 percent of New England’s possession and 87 percent passing accuracy. He also had six key passes (the entire Minnesota team only had four).”

Pro Soccer USA’s Julian Cardillo.

17. Zack Steffen, GK, Columbus Crew

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Zack Steffen is making the most of his final few months in MLS, recording his third straight clean sheet for the Columbus Crew. 

The Crew have earned all 10 of their points with Steffen in goal, and their only loss came in Week 4 to the Union when the goalkeeper was sidelined by an injury.

“After a powerhouse performance in the rain against defending MLS Cup champs Atlanta United, Steffen’s position as future USMNT star has never seemed more solid. Through four games this season, Steffen has allowed just one goal, making 13 saves, including a penalty stop.”

— Pro Soccer USA’s Ben Ferree

16. Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: 3

Mar 30, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris (13) attempts to tackle Vancouver Whitecaps FC defender Ali Adnan (53) at BC Place. (Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports)

Jordan Morris failed to rebound from a tough outing with the U.S. Men’s National Team against Ecuador in the scoreless draw with the Whitecaps. 

Morris didn’t fire a shot in 90 minutes at BC Place, and he only picked up 31 touches for Brian Schmetzer’s side. 

One more poor performance in Week 6 and Morris will likely fall out of the top 20. 

15. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

On the one-year anniversary of his debut in MLS, Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced a brace in the LA Galaxy’s win over the Portland Timbers. 

Ibrahimovic’s second goal was a cheeky Panenka from the spot, but the goal he almost scored in the first half while being held by a defender was his best effort on Sunday. 

The three goals netted by the Swede in 2019 have put his MLS total at 25. 

14. Diego Rossi, F, LAFC

Mar 30, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Judson (93) and Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi (9) chase down the ball at Avaya Stadium. (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Diego Rossi’s inclusion on the Player Rankings is long overdue. 

The 21-year-old Uruguayan produced a goal and an assist in LAFC’s thumping of the San Jose Earthquakes. Rossi is the fifth different LAFC player to make an appearance on this list, which is most from any team. 

“Rossi has long been the ‘two’ in the one-two punch of the LAFC attack alongside Carlos Vela, but the young forward is coming into his own this season.”

— Pro Soccer USA’s Julia Poe.

13. Raul Ruidiaz, F, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: 2

Mar 16, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz (9) kicks the ball against the Chicago Fire during the second half at Bridgeview Stadium. (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

Raul Ruidiaz’s scoring streak came to a screeching halt in Vancouver on Saturday. He failed to put any of his five shots on target in his 87-minute shift. 

The Peruvian has a chance to start a brand-new scoring streak in Week 6, when Seattle hosts struggling Real Salt Lake.

12. Eduard Atuesta, M, LAFC

Previous Ranking: 13 

Mar 23, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Eduard Atuesta (20) passes the ball against the Real Salt Lake at Banc of California Stadium. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)

One of the four players who have landed on this list in each of the first five weeks produced another solid performance in the middle of the park for LAFC. 

In addition to his solid work on the ball in midfield, Atuesta picked up his second assist of the campaign on Steven Beitashour’s 26th-minute goal at Avaya Stadium.

11. Alejandro Pozuelo, M, Toronto FC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Alejandro Pozuelo’s MLS debut was one of the best individual performances of the young season. He contributed two goals and an assist in Toronto FC’s 4-0 win over New York City FC.

If Pozuelo continues to thrive in the midfield playmaker role for the Reds, the club will quickly forget about the hole left by Sebastian Giovinco’s departure. 

“Give Pozuelo a 10+. The most impactful performance I have seen in person since I started covering NYCFC in 2015 – and its not even close – you had to be there as well, his movement off the ball, and then his ability to pick out the best options – just a wow!”

— Pro Soccer USA’s Glenn Crooks

10. Krisztian Nemeth, F, Sporting Kansas City 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Krisztian Nemeth led the Sporting Kansas City offensive onslaught on the Montreal Impact by netting his first hat trick in MLS play. 

Nemeth is now up to four goals in 2019, and Sporting Kansas City carries plenty of momentum going into the Concacaf Champions League semifinal against Monterrey on Thursday.

“Against Montreal, he was always in the right spot at the right time, something he’s had a knack for all year. And if it hadn’t been for his teammate Johnny Russell getting to a ball a second quicker than him in the first half against Montreal, he would have likely netted four.”

— Pro Soccer USA’s Ashley Scoby

9. Saphir Taider, M, Montreal Impact

Previous Ranking: 8

Mar 30, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; Montreal Impact midfielder Saphir Taider (8) passes the ball against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

The Impact as a whole had a brutal Week 5 at Children’s Mercy Park, but Saphir Taider still had a solid individual showing. 

In the absence of Ignacio Piatti, Taider produced the Impact’s lone goal and handed out two key passes while earning the Impact’s only two shots on target. 

8. Darwin Quintero, M, Minnesota United

Mar 9, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Minnesota United forward Carlos Darwin Quintero (25) controls the ball away from San Jose Earthquakes forward Cristian Espinoza (10) and midfielder Shea Salinas (6) during the second half at Avaya Stadium. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Previous Ranking: 6

Darwin Quintero boosted his season totals with Minnesota’s lone goal at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. 

With three goals and three assists, Quintero has contributed to a Loons strike in three of the first four games. 

7. Bill Hamid, GK, D.C. United

Mar 10, 2019; New York, NY, USA; D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (24) makes a save in front of New York City FC forward Jonathan Lewis (17) during the second half at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Previous Ranking: 5

Bill Hamid drops two spots because D.C. United finally gave up a goal on Sunday to Orlando City.

The Black-and-Red still have the league’s best defensive record. They’ve given up a single goal with Hamid between the pipes. 

In addition to the league’s top defensive mark, D.C. has the second-best goal differential at +8, behind LAFC.

6. David Accam, F, Philadelphia Union

Previous Ranking: 16

In 173 minutes, David Accam has recorded three goals and two assists, including the goal and assist he earned against FC Cincinnati on Saturday in the driving rain. 

Accam’s goal that sealed the Union’s win featured him cutting past a pair of defenders with ease on the left side of the penalty area. 

Accam has an opportunity to extend his scoring run to three games against FC Dallas on Saturday at home. 

5. Paxton Pomykal, M, FC Dallas

Previous Ranking: 14

Paxton Pomykal is one of two Homegrown Players who have taken MLS by storm with his performance in the first month of the season. 

Pomykal capped his incredible March with his first two MLS goals in FC Dallas’ 4-2 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. 

If Pomykal continues to shine in April and May, he will be one of the best players for the United States at the U-20 World Cup.

4. Memo Rodriguez, M, Houston Dynamo

Previous Ranking: 7

The other remarkable Homegrown Player to capture the MLS spotlight is Houston’s Memo Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez found the back of the net for the fourth time in 2019 on Saturday in the Dynamo’s 4-1 trouncing of the Colorado Rapids. 

The 23-year-old’s performance came a week after he bagged a brace for Wilmer Cabrera’s side.

3. Alberth Elis, F, Houston Dynamo

Previous Ranking: 9

Mar 30, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Houston Dynamo forward Alberth Elis (17) chases down a loose ball against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

If Colorado didn’t score a pair of own goals, we would’ve talked about a possible hat trick out of Alberth Elis in Week 5. 

Instead, the Honduran forward contributed a goal and an assist to follow up on his one goal, two assists showing in Week 3. 

Elis and the Dynamo have the week off before they try to add to their impressive start against San Jose on April 13. 

2. Wayne Rooney, F, D.C. United

Previous Ranking: 4

Wayne Rooney scored one of the best goals of the season from a wide angle on the left wing in D.C.’s win over Orlando City.

The Englishman also set up Steve Birnbaum’s opening goal at Orlando City Stadium to move his season totals up to four goals and three assists. 

Rooney is already close to halfway matching his seven assists from his debut season in MLS.

1. Carlos Vela, F, LAFC

Previous Ranking: 1

No one else is deserving of the No. 1 spot.

LAFC’s Carlos Vela, who was named Week 5 Player of the Week, picked up his fourth, fifth and sixth goals of the season against San Jose. 

The 30-year-old Mexican also chipped in his third assist of the season, and goes into Week 6 preparing for a head-to-head clash of titans with Rooney and D.C. United at Audi Field.

 

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