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MLS Player Rankings Week 2: Darwin Quintero remains on top

Mar 9, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Minnesota United forward Carlos Darwin Quintero (25) kicks a penalty kick against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half at Avaya Stadium. (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

As expected, there was plenty of turnover in our MLS Player Rankings following Week 2. 

Since some of Week 1’s top performers didn’t thrive as much in Week 2, the door was open for plenty of new entrants to slide into the list. And we also opened up five more spots as we work our way toward building the list to 20 for the majority of the season. 

A few players were able to back up their Week 1 showings with strong games in Week 2, with one of those players being the best player in our eyes early in the season. 

FC Dallas and LAFC share the most players in the rankings after Week 2, while nine teams in total are represented. 

15. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders

Previous Rank: 2

 After scoring a pair of goals in Seattle’s opener, Jordan Morris wasn’t as active in the final third, as he failed to fire off a single shot while handing out two key passes. 

Mar 2, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris (13) gives a thumb up to a teammate during the second half against the FC Cincinnati at CenturyLink Field. The Seattle Sounders beat FC Cincinnati 4-1. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

Although the U.S. Men’s National Team forward didn’t score, the Sounders pocketed a pair of early goals to easily dispense of the Colorado Rapids. 

Morris remains on the edge of the player rankings because he was No. 2 a week ago for his incredible return from injury against FC Cincinnati.

14. Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas

Previous Rank: Not Ranked 

The team with the most Homegrown Player signings in league history received a significant contribution from its academy-bred attack-minded midfielder on Saturday. 

Mar 9, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal (19) controls the ball in the first half against LA Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos (8) at Toyota Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Nineteen-year-old Paxton Pomykal dished out four key passes from his No. 10 position, with the best pass being an assist on Bryan Acosta’s 61st-minute goal.

Pomykal was one of eight players who played significant minutes for FC Dallas on Saturday to record a pass-accuracy mark of 85 percent or better. 

13. Kelvin Leerdam, Seattle Sounders

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

No one thought Kelvin Leerdam would be tied with 10 other players atop the Golden Boot race after two weeks.

In fact, it’s amazing the Sounders left back scored a single goal in Week 1, as he had one goal in rave green since his arrival in the summer of 2017. 

On the defensive side, Leerdam helped the Sounders limit the Rapids to three shots on goal in a game in which Anthony Hudson’s side was looking to make up ground from a slow start. 

12. Reto Ziegler, FC Dallas

Previous Rank: Not Ranked 

Our appreciation for defenders continues with FC Dallas’ Reto Ziegler, who has had a sneaky good start to the 2019 campaign. 

Mar 9, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas defender Reto Ziegler (3) controls the ball during the match against LA Galaxy at Toyota Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

The 33-year-old Swiss defender followed up his Week 1 performance in which he recorded 130 touches and won five aerials by contributing a pair of tackles, interceptions and clearances against the Zlatan-less LA Galaxy attack. 

Ziegler was the second-most active player on the ball for Luchi Gonzalez’s squad on Saturday, completing 89.8 percent of his 88 passes. Only Carlos Gruezo attempted more passes for FC Dallas in Week 2. 

11. Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

In any other week, Gyasi Zardes would’ve landed near the top of the rankings, but his progress was halted by a collection of impressive goalkeepers who stole the spotlight in Week 2, but more on them in a bit. 

Zardes bagged a brace in his second game under new Columbus coach Caleb Porter in the 2-0 road win over the New England Revolution. 

The 27-year-old, who has 21 goals in a Crew uniform, also recorded a two-goal performance in Week 2 a year ago against Montreal. 

10. Sean Johnson, New York City FC 

Previous Rank: Not Ranked 

Welcome to the goalkeeper appreciation portion of this week’s rankings. 

Sean Johnson turned in a terrific performance in a duel against fellow USMNT netminder Bill Hamid in the scoreless draw between New York City FC and D.C. United .

Johnson shielded away all three of the shots sent in his direction by the Black-and-Red, with his 11th-minute denial on Luciano Acosta being the most impressive. 

9. Tim Melia, Sporting Kansas City 

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

It might be time for Tim Melia to be anointed as MLS’ penalty-stopping king after he turned away Marco Fabian’s spot kick in Sporting Kansas City’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia. 

According to stats guru Paul Carr, Melia has stopped eight of the 21 penalties he’s faced in MLS, which equates to a 38 percent stoppage rate, well above the league average. 

Melia is either near, or at, the top of the best goalkeeper in MLS conversation and Sunday’s shutout of the Union was just another feather in the cap for the former Chivas USA player who came to Sporting KC originally as a pool goalkeeper. 

8. Albert Rusnak, Real Salt Lake 

Previous Rank: 6

Albert Rusnak added to his goal tally with a penalty in Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 win over Vancouver. 

Mar 9, 2019; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnak (11) takes a penalty shot for a goal in the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

The midfield playmaker was once again active in the final third for the Claret-and-Cobalt, handing out four passes on 61 touches and sending two of his four shots on target. 

However, since his goal was a penalty and other players turned in better performances in Week 2, we were forced to slide Rusnak down a few spots. 

7. Eduard Atuesta, LAFC 

Previous Rank: 

The first of three LAFC players on this week’s list followed up a strong Week 1 with another commanding performance in midfield against the Portland Timbers.

March 3, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Eduard Atuesta (20) controls the ball against Sporting Kansas City during the second half at Banc of California Stadium. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Eduard Atuesta was once again in the middle of everything for Bob Bradley’s side, with only Lee Nguyen recording more touches than the 21-year-old midfielder. 

Atuesta made three tackles in defense and sprayed the ball around the field with ease, completing 90.3 percent of his 93 passes. 

6. Bryan Acosta, FC Dallas

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

The third FC Dallas player to appear on this week’s list was one of the most impactful players in Week 2. 

Bryan Acosta’s crowning achievement against the LA Galaxy was this stunning strike that might have made Zlatan himself swoon a bit. 

Acosta’s attacking exploits handed FC Dallas its first win of the season and showed how dynamic he can be in the final third when he gets going.

5. Mark-Anthony Kaye, LAFC

Previous Rank: Not Ranked 

If you thought Atuesta was having a good start to the season, wait until we give you the low down on Mark-Anthony Kaye. 

Kaye’s goal in LAFC’s rout of Portland just scratched the surface on the impact he made for the Black-and-Gold on Sunday. 

The Canadian midfielder made four tackles, played four accurate long balls, made two interceptions, handed out two key passes and blocked a shot. 

Simply put, Kaye put together one of the best all-around performances we’ve seen through two weeks. 

4. Bill Hamid, D.C. United

A week after he claimed he was better than Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid went out to the Yankee Stadium pitch and went head-to-head with another American goalkeeper. 

Hamid made six saves to preserve a clean sheet on the road for D.C. United against Eastern Conference foe NYCFC. 

The six-save performance from the USMNT goalkeeper came in his 200th appearance for D.C. United, a team for which he has two clean sheets in 2019. 

3. Saphir Taider, Montreal Impact

Previous Ranking: 4 

You’ll begin to notice that consistency will get rewarded as the weeks go on, which is why we still think highly of Saphir Taider. 

The 27-year-old midfielder has been the best player through two weeks for the Montreal Impact and he scored for the second consecutive game on Saturday against Houston. 

In order for the Impact to rebound from their defeat to the Dynamo, Taider needs to be at his best once again as their road trip rolls on to Orlando, Kansas City, the Bronx and Washington, D.C. before the home opener on April 13. 

2. Carlos Vela, LAFC

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Carlos Vela was just flat out superb for LAFC in the club’s Week 2 win over fellow MLS Cup hopeful Portland. 

Vela scored once and played a hand in the other three goals netted by the second-year side, who is one of three teams with six points. 

The MLS Player of the Week is no stranger to contributing to multiple goals in a game, as he’s played a role in three strikes in three LAFC games, all of which have come since September. 

1. Darwin Quintero, Minnesota United 

Previous Ranking: 1

Vela’s magnificent showing came close to putting him into the top spot, but Darwin Quintero answered with a goal and an assist for Minnesota United in their 3-0 win over San Jose. 

In 178 minutes of action in 2019, Quintero has two goals and three assists for the Loons, who have turned into the early-season surprise of the league. 

In addition to being all over the final third, Quintero produced the celebration of the week. We’re just going to imagine he’ll react the same way when he learns he’s topped the rankings for the second week in a row. 

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