When Mac Kandji was signed by the Red Bulls in 2008, then-head coach Juan Carlos Osorio promised huge things from the Sengalese attacker. This is a guy, Osorio explained, who would be in one of the top leagues in Europe within two seasons.
It didn't quite work out that way. Kandji was eventually shipped to Colorado – where he memorably set up the game-winning goal at MLS Cup 2010, tearing ligaments in his knee in the process. He never really found his feet there, and – as in NY – was effective only in spurts.
From Colorado, he was shipped to Houston, and just as in his two previous ports of call, Kandji didn't really seem to fit. He wasn't going to displace Will Bruin as Brian Ching's partner as the second forward in Dominic Kinnear's 4-4-2, he was too slow in his decision-making to play wide midfield, and wasn't rugged enough in the box to take over from Ching and play as a pure No. 9.
Then, a month back, Kinnear switched the Dynamo to a 4-3-3. And for Kandji, it's been like flipping a switch.
The 26-year-old has arguably been Houston's best player since then, operating primarily as an inverted winger on the left side of the field. And he had inarguably his best game as a pro last week, scoring a pair of goals while eviscerating the Montreal Impact. In the process he earned the No. 1 ranking in this week's Castrol Index Weekly Top 20.
Kandji's followed by a host of attackers who also found net multiple times. New York's Kenny Cooper broke his seven-game goal drought with a pair against Philadelphia for the No. 2 spot. He's followed by Landon Donovan, who put home a brace of his own in LA's 3-1 win against Chivas USA.
At No. 4 is one of the other guys who's made Houston's 4-3-3 work, reigning MLS Player of the Week Calen Carr. His two goals against Sporting KC midweek propelled the Dynamo to a 2-1 win, thrusting them squarely into the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. Rounding out the top five is TFC's Ryan Johnson, whose Man of the Match performance against Colorado helped Reds fans forget the loss of Danny Koevermans for a week.
Central defender Matt Hedges of FC Dallas was the only rookie to crack the Top 20 this week, pulling in at No. 19 with his strong showing in FCD's 2-1 loss at San Jose.
Weekly Top 20 Performers - Week 20 Powered by Castrol Index
|1||Macoumba Kandji||Forward||Houston Dynamo||90||1,615|
|2||Kenny Cooper||Forward||New York Red Bulls||90||1,507|
|3||Landon Donovan||Forward||LA Galaxy||90||1,429|
|4||Calen Carr||Forward||Houston Dynamo||90||1,283|
|5||Ryan Johnson||Forward||Toronto FC||90||1,282|
|6||Bobby Boswell||Defender||Houston Dynamo||90||1,273|
|7||Tally Hall||Goalkeeper||Houston Dynamo||90||1,264|
|8||Álvaro Saborío||Forward||Real Salt Lake||90||1,259|
|9||Andy Gruenebaum||Goalkeeper||Columbus Crew||90||1,231|
|10||Matt Reis||Goalkeeper||New England Revolution||90||1,167|
|11||Robbie Keane||Forward||LA Galaxy||90||1,141|
|12||Bill Gaudette||Goalkeeper||New York Red Bulls||90||1,127|
|13||Markus Holgersson||Defender||New York Red Bulls||90||1,119|
|14||Jimmy Nielsen||Goalkeeper||Sporting Kansas City||90||1,101|
|15||Jon Busch||Goalkeeper||San Jose Earthquakes||90||1,088|
|16||Michael Harrington||Defender||Sporting Kansas City||90||1,086|
|17||Jacob Peterson||Midfielder||Sporting Kansas City||90||1,068|
|18||Hernán Pertúz||Defender||FC Dallas||90||1,065|
|19||Matt Hedges||Defender||FC Dallas||90||1,059|
|20||Barry Robson||Midfielder||Vancouver Whitecaps||90||1,029|