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Top 50 MLS Players: Our 2020 ranking ahead of the season kickoff

There's more world-class talent in MLS than ever. All the more reason we figured it'd be a fascinating exercise to rank them ahead of the new season.

Our MLSsoccer.com team of editors, writers and columnists each took a turn at listing their Top 50 MLS players and we fused their entries into a single list below. (Note: With voting closing on February 21, players signed after that date were not considered.)


50. Brian Rodriguez

LAFC

The 19-year-old Uruguay national team winger didn't get much of a chance to leave his mark in MLS last year, but his name is pencilled into the starting lineup as he enters his first full season. LAFC need him to be a major offensive contributor if they're going to match the heights of their Supporters' Shield season. ... Brian Rodriguez stats and bio

49. Johnny Russell

SKC

It's no wonder he's a fan favorite. When Russell gets the ball out wide and squares up to go 1v1, entertainment typically ensues. And when he's not beating defenders on the dribble, he's lining up for a rip at goal (he scored nine times in 2019). When the Scotsman is on his game, Sporting are tough to contain. ... Johnny Russell stats and bio

48. Reggie Cannon

DAL

He's a lockdown MLS starting right back, a US national team regular and a target of European clubs which already have him in their crosshairs. Oh, and he's only 21. Cannon is another success story of the vaunted FC Dallas academy and the club is eager to lock up their prized defender to a long-term deal. ... Reggie Cannon stats and bio

47. Alejandro Bedoya

PHI

The former US national team midfielder is a captain with a capital "C." Bedoya is the unquestioned leader of the Union and he carries the team on his shoulders when necessary. His heroic performance when he played through an injury in the Union's first-ever playoff win will go down in Union lore, as will that message he delivered on national TV. ... Alejandro Bedoya stats and bio

46. Bill Hamid

DC

They say goalkeepers are like fine wine: They get better with age. Well, Bill Hamid is living proof. A young phenom when he emerged from D.C.'s academy ranks as a 19-year-old in 2010, Hamid has developed a strong overall game with few weaknesses. It's the big reason he's back in the US national team mix. ... Bill Hamid stats and bio

45. Cristian Roldan

SEA

Other stars in rave green may claim the spotlight, but there's probably no player that embodies the Sounders' style of play quite like Roldan. He's the heart and engine of a team that is just as fiery and competitive as he is: Seattle have been serious contenders for MLS Cup in every season that Roldan has been a starter. And the US national team has since taken notice. ... Cristian Roldan stats and bio

44. Albert Rusnak

RSL

A player who simply oozes class. As elegant a midfielder as you'll find in MLS, Rusnak is a joy to watch with the ball at his feet. Although he has proven he can score goals, he's truly in his element when he's playmaking. Rusnak finds passing seams that other players simply don't see. He's capable of an MVP-caliber season if he can stay injury-free. ... Albert Rusnak stats and bio

43. Alexandru Mitrita

NYC

It's easy to spot the panic on the faces of MLS defenders when the Romanian winger begins his move to cut inside. They know what's coming, but there's nothing they can do to stop it. The slippery Mitrita doesn't take over games, but he can change them with a single play. After a productive debut season, he could be primed for a superstar turn in 2020. ... Alexandru Mitrita stats and bio

42. Joao Paulo

SEA

This guy is going to be good. We saw the resume when Joao Paulo's signing was announced and we were impressed. We watched his debut in Champions League and we were frankly blown away. The Brazilian is an all-purpose midfielder who's fantastic on the ball. The defending champs are already stronger in 2020. ... Joao Paulo stats and bio

41. Saphir Taider

MTL

Overshadowed by the Ignacio Piatti show in his two years in Montreal, Taider now has the chance to be the undisputed star with Piatti's departure and he undoubtedly has the skills and personality to pull it off. He can give a passionate locker room speech, but now he needs to up his production. ... Saphir Taider stats and bio

40. Mark-Anthony Kaye

LAFC

After a sensational start to his MLS career in 2018, Kaye backed it up with another strong season as the imposing midfield pivot for the best regular season team in league history. Clean on the ball, crisp with his passing and strong in the challenge, when Kaye's game is clicking so are LAFC. ... Mark-Anthony Kaye stats and bio

39. Ezequiel Barco

ATL

This is his year. No one questions that Barco has the talent to be one of the best players MLS has ever seen – it's the reason that teams from Italy and Portugal are tracking him – but he has to stay on the field long enough to show more than flashes. After finally winning over his manager, now all he has to do is stay healthy. ... Ezequiel Barco stats and bio

38. Julian Gressel

DC

It's easy to see why the former No. 8 overall draft pick became a fan favorite in Atlanta. The same grit, hustle and elite soccer IQ that made him an immovable starter as a rookie under Tata Martino also made him a perfect fit for D.C. United's style under Ben Olsen. Expect him to rise to the occasion in the capital. ... Julian Gressel stats and bio

37. Anton Tinnerholm

NYC

Right back is only the starting point for NYCFC's Swedish workhorse. He owns the ENTIRE right flank and is just as effective in attack as he is on defense. It's the reason he stands out in virtually every match he plays and figures in this Top 50 ranking. ... Anton Tinnerholm stats and bio

36. Diego Valeri

POR

Portland may have reloaded with some younger players this offseason, but the 2017 MLS MVP can clearly still ball, and El Maestro may well be underrated here. Expect him to thrive in 2020 with some new weapons to work with. ... Diego Valeri stats and bio

35. Jurgen Locadia

CIN

The centerpiece of FC Cincinnati’s attacking overhaul who is slated to be their go-to No. 9, Locadia will need to make a good first impression if FCC are to trigger their multi-million dollar purchase option on his loan. His excellent record in the Eredivisie with PSV and a solid return in limited Bundesliga minutes should give Cincy fans hope that it will be an easy decision come June 30. ... Jurgen Locadia stats and bio

34. Stefan Frei

SEA

One of the most consistent No. 1s in the league cemented his credentials by backstopping a second Sounders championship in four years. He has very little left to prove in MLS, but it would be a travesty if he somehow does not end up an MLS Goalkeeper of the Year winner at some point in his career. ... Stefan Frei stats and bio

33. Walker Zimmerman

NSH

One of the top center backs in the league underwent a shock change of scenery a few weeks ago, going from the Supporters’ Shield winners to an expansion side. That doesn’t change the fact he was a Best XI honoree last year, and he could get even more chances to show off those qualities as the Music City crew look to take MLS by surprise. ... Walker Zimmerman stats and bio

32. Eddie Segura

LAFC

The Colombian youth international center back was the model of consistency for LAFC in 2019, featuring in every single regular season and postseason game, starting all but one and going the full 90 in all but two games for the runaway Supporters’ Shield winners. With some veteran departures from LAFC’s backline, he will be counted on to provide the same high level of play from the get-go in 2020. ... Eddie Segura stats and bio

31. Nani

ORL

Orlando’s Portuguese superstar answered any questions about his ability to contribute in MLS, with a 12-goal, 10-assist debut season in 2019. One year older now, the 33-year-old will need to contribute at a similar, if not even higher level in order to lead the Lions to their first-ever playoff appearance. ... Nani stats and bio

30. Jordan Morris

SEA

The unquestionable Comeback Player of the Year in 2019, Morris bounced back from a devastating ACL injury to become an integral part of Seattle’s MLS Cup run. Can the American winger, always blessed with speed and now with sharper attacking instincts, take the next step and become a bona fide star in MLS? ... Jordan Morris stats and bio

29. Diego Chara

POR

The Timbers' midfield destroyer continues to be one of the best d-mids in the league and played his most minutes since 2014 even at the age of 33 last season. Here's proof of just how indispensable he is to this team: It was only last year that the Timbers managed to snap a 23-game winless streak in games that he did not play (dating back to July 2015). ... Diego Chara stats and bio

28. Romain Metanire

MIN

The highest-rated right back on this list had a terrific 2019 after joining the Loons, slotting right into a starting spot and providing an upgrade on both sides of the ball as Minnesota comfortably made the playoffs. He also had a memorable run with Madagascar in the African Cup of Nations and could be in line for even more minutes in 2020 with no major international tournaments on the radar for him this year. ... Romain Metanire stats and bio

27. Sebastian Blanco

POR

The experienced Argentine was one of Portland’s most dynamic and dangerous attackers in 2019, and his contributions on the wing will again be counted on as the Timbers contend for silverware this year. Especially interesting will be how he fares in conjunction with some new No. 9 options in the Rose City. ... Sebastian Blanco stats and bio

26. Pity Martinez

ATL

Expectations were sky-high for Pity after his eight-figure move to Atlanta last year. He acquitted himself well after some early pains with his new team, but the Five Stripes didn’t shell out for a decent playmaker — they did so for the 2018 South American Player of the Year, and that’s the level they’ll hope he reaches in 2020. ... Pity Martinez stats and bio


25. Miles Robinson

One of the breakout stars of 2019, a Best XI selection and a USMNT candidate, much will be expected of the 22-year-old this season. With new faces around him and starting the season with an injury, those expectations will be put to the test early. Miles Robinson stats and bio

24. Edison Flores

The new No. 10 in D.C. should have no problem being the fulcrum of Ben Olsen’s rebuilt team. Not just an attacking piece, Flores’ two-way game has made him an integral part of the Peruvian national team. Edison Flores stats and bio

23. Alexander Ring

The midfield general and captain of NYCFC, Ring is a crucial piece in central midfield for one of the East’s top teams. He has the ability to play as a No. 6 or No. 8 and his passing and pressing abilities make him one of the top players at his position. Alexander Ring stats and bio

22. Heber

The Brazilian’s production per minute stacked up with some of the best last season and he will be looking to replicate those kinds of numbers over more minutes for a NYCFC team that is expected to compete for MLS Cup. Heber stats and bio

21. Alan Pulido

Another Liga MX goalscoring champions has joined MLS, this time in the form of Alan Pulido. The Mexican international lands with Sporting, who have been sorely needing someone to put the ball in the back of the net. Alan Pulido stats and bio

20. Jamiro Monteiro

The midfielder was on loan with Philadelphia last season and was so good that the Union paid a club-record transfer fee to bring him back on a permanent basis. He should again be a top midfielder in MLS this season. Jamiro Monteiro stats and bio

19. Aaron Long

The 2018 MLS Defender of the Year had a down year by his standards in 2019, but that shouldn’t stop the US international from being one of the top center backs in MLS yet again this season. Aaron Long stats and bio

18. Lucas Zelarayan

The new No. 10 in Columbus, Zelarayan comes to Columbus after being a part of a juggernaut Tigres side in Mexico. Don’t let his creativity fool you, the Argentine has no problem putting in the work on the defensive side of the ball. Lucas Zelarayan stats and bio

17. Darlington Nagbe

Joining his third MLS team in four years, Nagbe returns to Ohio to reunite with Caleb Porter after two years in Atlanta. The two-time MLS Cup champion almost never gives the ball away in central midfield. Darlington Nagbe stats and bio

16. Diego Rossi

Subject of transfer chatter in the offseason, Rossi is still in L.A. and will look to improve upon his 16-goal 2019 season. One of the fastest players in MLS, Rossi is a terror in 1v1 situations on the wing. Diego Rossi stats and bio

15. Jozy Altidore

Injuries have meant the US international has never played more than 27 MLS games in a season during his Toronto FC tenure. Jozy enters 2020 fully healthy looking to lead TFC back to another MLS Cup. Jozy Altidore stats and bio

14. Gustavo Bou

Bou burst onto the scene after arriving last July and carried the momentum through the rest of the season as he led the Revs to the playoffs. The forward will be aiming to be one of the top goalscorers in MLS this year. Gustavo Bou stats and bio

13. Rodolfo Pizarro

The centerpiece of Miami’s expansion squad, Pizarro should bring flair and pace to Diego Alonso’s lineup. The club shelled out eight figures to acquire the Mexican international from Monterrey. Rodolfo Pizarro stats and bio

12. Cristian Pavon

Terrorizing defenses and supplying eight assists in just 11 regular-season appearances, the Argentine international winger did more than enough after joining from Boca Juniors in August to suggest he can be one of the top offensive weapons in MLS. Chicharito, and the Galaxy fans, stand to be the beneficiaries after his loan was extended for 2020. Cristian Pavon stats and bio

11. Raul Ruidiaz

He may not have quite put up the numbers last year of Vela, Zlatan and Josef, but the Peruvian hitman showed why he deserves to be ranked up there with the very best with a menacing and near flawless display to lead Seattle to victory on the road against LAFC in the Western Conference Final. Raul Ruidiaz stats and bio

10. Eduard Atuesta

While Carlos Vela understandably racked up the headlines, Atuesta was knitting everything together for LAFC as the Supporters’ Shield winners broke records aplenty. The fulcrum of Bob Bradley’s midfield, the Colombian was great without the ball and more than a little handy with it, registering 11 assists. Eduard Atuesta stats and bio

9. Ike Opara

He may not be the only reason why Minnesota United were transformed in the space of a single year from a team that leaked 71 goals to one that conceded just 43 to reach the playoffs for the first time in the club’s history, but he was certainly the biggest. The award for MLS Defender of the Year in 2019 was just recognition for the imposing center back. Ike Opara stats and bio

8. Carles Gil

Yet another silky playmaker who has found his home in MLS to produce the best output of his career, Gil notched up a combined 24 goals and assists in his debut campaign with the New England Revolution to earn the MLS Newcomer of the Year award. Carles Gil stats and bio

7. Chicharito Hernandez

The “little pea” is a superstar like no other in Mexico. And for good reason. His career has taken him to Manchester United and Real Madrid, to Champions League finals and World Cups. His last two years may not have been the happiest, but make no mistake: Give him a chance in the box and he will score. Chicharito Hernandez stats and bio

6. Alejandro Pozuelo

The former La Liga playmaker had some very big, metaphorically at least, shoes to fill when he signed for Toronto days after the start of the 2019 season. But by the end of year, after a debut MLS campaign in which he produced 12 goals and 12 assists and added a further two goals and three assists to propel the Reds to MLS Cup, there were very few Toronto fans still pining for Sebastian Giovinco. Alejandro Pozuelo stats and bio

5. Jonathan dos Santos

While Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbed the headlines, Dos Santos was arguably just as important, if not more so, to the LA Galaxy last season. Now, with Zlatan departed, the Mexican midfielder looks set to be the true engine of Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s team. Jonathan dos Santos stats and bio

4. Maxi Moralez

Just one player in MLS history has recorded more assists in a single season than the 20 Moralez supplied for his NYCFC teammates in 2019. And being second best to the legendary Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama is a slight on no man. Maxi Moralez stats and bio

3. Nicolas Lodeiro

A wonderfully gifted playmaker, Lodeiro’s talent has been obvious to the world since making the move to Ajax and appearing in the 2010 World Cup for Uruguay. But in Seattle, Lodeiro has found his true home, repaying the Sounders with the best soccer of his career and two MLS Cups in four years. Nicolas Lodeiro stats and bio

2. Josef Martinez

The best pure striker in MLS history? Josef Martinez lives to score goals (82 in 92 MLS appearances) and does it with a ruthless efficiency and consistency, finding the net in an MLS all-time record 15 consecutive games in 2019. It’s not hard to understand why the Venezuelan is so beloved in Atlanta that he now has a mural dedicated to him. Josef Martinez stats and bio

1. Carlos Vela

What else is there to say about Carlos Vela? There are the numbers: an MLS record 34 goals last season to go with 15 assists. But even those don’t do the Mexican star justice. Just watch Vela dance past bewildered defenders before finding the corner of the net with his trademark left foot and try not to smile. Carlos Vela stats and bio

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