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MLS Week 7 Player Rankings: Vela, Ibrahimovic top star-studded list

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the Pro Soccer USA Major League Soccer Player Rankings is a who’s who of the biggest stars in the league following Week 7. 

Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela has been atop the list for over a month, but he has plenty of competition building up beneath him. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jozy Altidore, Alejandro Pozuelo and Nani are all in the top half of the 20 best in-form players in MLS. 

Our player rankings list the best in MLS based off form from the last four games, with the most-recent performances carrying more weight. 

20. Latif Blessing, M, Los Angeles FC

Previous Ranking: 18 

Apr 13, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Latif Blessing (7) moves the ball while FC Cinncinati midfielder Leonardo Bertone (6) defends during the first half at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

LAFC’s do-it-all midfielder, Latif Blessing wasn’t as active as he has been in previous games, but he still put up solid numbers in the Black-and-Gold’s 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati

Blessing handed out a key pass and fired three shots while winning a pair of aerial duels. 

The 22-year-old isn’t the first standout player you point to when discussing LAFC’s hot start, but he is one of the most important cogs in Bob Bradley’s system. 

19. Brad Smith, D, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Apr 13, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC defender Brad Smith (11) dribbles past Toronto FC midfielder Nick DeLeon (18) during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of unheralded stars on one of the best teams in MLS, Seattle’s Brad Smith enters the list for the first time in 2019.

The Sounders left back doesn’t get as much praise as he deserves because of the talent littered across the roster, but he is one of the most important players on both sides of the ball for Brian Schmetzer’s side. 

In Saturday’s 3-2 win over Toronto FC, Smith picked up his second assist of the campaign. 

18. C.J. Sapong, F, Chicago Fire

Previous Ranking: 17

Apr 12, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire forward C.J. Sapong (9) dribbles the ball against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half at SeatGeek Stadium. (Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports)

C.J. Sapong wasn’t able to score his fourth goal of 2019 for the Chicago Fire, but he was still active all across the field in Friday’s 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The 30-year-old forward recorded three shots and was a menace in the air by winning four aerial duels. 

With one more goal, Sapong will match his total from the 2018 season. 

17. Nicolas Lodeiro, M, Seattle Sounders

Previous Ranking: 12 

Apr 13, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (10) passes the ball under the defense of Toronto FC midfielder Marco Delgado (8) during the second half at CenturyLink Field. (Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports)

Nicolas Lodeiro added to his 2019 totals with his fourth assist in Seattle’s win over Toronto at CenturyLink Field. 

In addition to his assist, Lodeiro was the most active Sounders player on the ball with 99 touches and a pair of key passes. 

16. Evan Bush, GK, Montreal Impact

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Apr 13, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush (1) exchanges words with an official during the first half of the game against the Columbus Crew at Stade Saputo before the game against the Columbus Crew. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

For those of you who haven’t paid attention to the Montreal Impact, they are currently on a three-game unbeaten run. 

Evan Bush has been one of the primary reasons why the Impact have played well of late. 

The 33-year-old goalkeeper picked up a pair of clean sheets against D.C. United and Columbus Crew in Week 7, and has nine saves in his last three games. 

15. Ezequiel Barco, M, Atlanta United

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

The breakout performance we’ve been waiting for from Ezequiel Barco appeared on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. 

The much-hyped midfielder bagged a brace off the bench for the Five Stripes in their 2-0 win over the New England Revolution.

Saturday’s performance was the first multiple-goal showing for Barco, who earned the MLS Player of the Week honor. 

14. Johnny Russell, M, Sporting Kansas City 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

The concerns about Sporting Kansas City not having a true No. 9 feel like a distant complaint after what we’ve seen out of the team’s attackers so far in 2019. 

Johnny Russell netted his fourth goal of the season in Sporting KC’s 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. 

In his last four league games, the Scottish midfielder has four goals and an assist. 

13. Krisztian Nemeth, F, Sporting Kansas City 

Previous Ranking: 14

Mar 30, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting Kansas City forward Krisztian Nemeth (9) scores a goal during the first half against the Montreal Impact at Children’s Mercy Park. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

The other four-goal scorer in the Sporting KC attack provided an assist on Russell’s goal at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday. 

The assist was one of four key passes handed out by Krisztian Nemeth, who gets a chance to add to his goal tally against San Jose in Week 8. 

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

Previous Ranking: 6

Apr 13, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) moves the ball against the Colorado Rapids in the second half at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. D.C. United defeated the Rapids 3-2. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Wayne Rooney is one of a few players who experienced drops from high positions after Week 7.

Since scoring four goals in two games against Real Salt Lake and Orlando City SC, Rooney’s been sent off, served the subsequent one-game suspension and failed to put a shot on target.

If his production dries up again in Week 8, Rooney will likely drop out of the rankings. 

11. Kei Kamara, F, Colorado Rapids

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

No matter where he’s landed in MLS, Kei Kamara has been able to find the back of the net. 

Kamara scored in his third consecutive game for the Colorado Rapids on Saturday in a 3-2 loss to D.C. United to move his season goal total up to four. 

Kamara has gained sole possession of fifth place on the MLS all-time scoring chart with 116 strikes. He needs 17 to reach Jamie Moreno in fourth place. 

10. Zack Steffen, GK, Columbus Crew

Previous Ranking: 5

Mar 30, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen (23) celebrates a 2-0 win over Atlanta United at MAPFRE Stadium. (Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)

Zack Steffen gave up his second goal of the season in Saturday’s loss to Montreal.

Although the Columbus Crew came out on the losing end of the contest, Steffen still made six saves to keep Caleb Porter’s side in it. 

Through six games, the future Manchester City player has made 21 saves and earned four clean sheets. 

9. Memo Rodriguez, M, Houston Dynamo

Previous Ranking: 4

Mar 16, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder Memo Rodriguez (8) during the game against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BBVA Compass Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Memo Rodriguez missed the Houston Dynamo’s 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in Week 7.

In the four games he has played in, Rodriguez has four goals, all of which have come in his last three starts. 

8. Eduard Atuesta, M, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: 11 

Apr 6, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Eduard Atuesta (20) dribbles the ball against D.C. United at Audi Field. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

Eduard Atuesta continues to receive little focus from the MLS spotlight because of how well the LAFC attack has performed through seven weeks. 

Again in Week 7, Atuesta provided a steady hand in the middle of the park for Bob Bradley’s side by recording three key passes and completing 85.9 percent of his 71 attempted passes. 

7. Nani, M, Orlando City SC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

The first Orlando City player to enter the Player Rankings is the club’s top offseason acquisition.

In his last three games, Nani produced three goals and two assists, including one tally against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. 

In total, the Portuguese midfielder has three goals and four assists in 477 minutes. 

6. Diego Rossi, F, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: 2

Apr 13, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi (9) moves the ball down the field past FC Cinncinati midfielder Allan Cruz (15) during the first half at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

In order to remain in the top five, you have to keep finding the back of the net. 

With so many top scorers racing up the list, Diego Rossi fell back to No. 6 after failing to score against FC Cincinnati. 

Saturday marked the first time since March 17 that Rossi didn’t score in an LAFC game. 

5. Jozy Altidore, F, Toronto FC 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Jozy Altidore has five goals and one assist in 291 minutes for Toronto FC. 

The U.S. Men’s National Team forward continued his rampant start to the 2019 campaign with a brace in the loss to Seattle on Saturday. 

If he continues to score at his current rate, Altidore will undoubtedly be the starting forward for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Concacaf Gold Cup. 

4. Alberth Elis, F, Houston Dynamo

Previous Ranking: 3

Alberth Elis extended his scoring streak to three games with a tally in Houston’s 2-1 win over San Jose. 

Just like the other players in the top portion of the rankings, Elis has been hot of late with three goals and three assists in his last three games. 

Given how well he’s played so far in MLS, Elis could be one of the top scorers at the Gold Cup for Honduras. 

3. Alejandro Pozuelo, M, Toronto FC 

Previous Ranking: 8

Apr 13, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto FC midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (10) controls the ball in front of Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Cristian Roldan (7) during the first half at CenturyLink Field. (Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports)

Alejandro Pozuelo has filled the void left by Sebastian Giovinco to perfection. 

Since stepping foot on the field for Toronto FC, Pozuelo has picked up two goals and four assists. 

The Spaniard’s impact in the final third has been on display the most through his connection with Altidore. Pozuelo assisted on both of the American’s goals on Saturday. 

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy 

Previous Ranking: 7

All Zlatan Ibrahimovic does is score goals. 

The Swede’s brace against Philadelphia on Saturday was his second two-goal performance in three games for the LA Galaxy.

Five of Ibrahimovic’s six tallies in the 2019 season have come in his last 270 minutes of play.

1. Carlos Vela, F, Los Angeles FC 

Previous Ranking: 1

Vela remains on top of the Player Rankings after finding the back of the net yet again on Saturday at Banc of California Stadium.

In addition to recording his eighth goal of 2019, the 30-year-old Mexican produced his fifth assist of the campaign. 

Vela has two chances to add to his totals in Week 8. LAFC visits Vancouver on Wednesday before squaring off with Seattle in a clash of Western Conference titans on Sunday. 

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