MLS Positional Rankings (Right Midfielders/Wingers): Houston rewards Elis for productive debut season

If this category seems a bit sparse, one reason is a few players who drive their teams’ attack primarily from the right flank have been listed as attacking midfielders (Romain Alessandrini, Nicolas Lodeiro) or forwards (Hector Villalba).

There also a couple of players very productive in past seasons – such as Dominic Oduro – as right mids or right wingers who suffered through very difficult seasons and didn’t make the cut for 2017. This category does not include wingbacks, such as Toronto FC’s Steven Beitashour, who man the right side in five-man midfields. They will listed in a combined category of right backs/right wingbacks.

The positional rankings are based on performance and production in league games and playoff matches during the 2017 season. In some cases, a player who lined up in different positions is included here because he played more games or produced his better displays.
SA Top 10: Right Midfielders/Wingers:
1. Alberth Elis (Houston)
2. Dominique Badji (Colorado)
3. Michael Barrios (FC Dallas)
4. Luis Solignac (Chicago)
5. Alex Bunbury (New England)
6. Joao Plata (Real Salt Lake)
7. Carlos Rivas (Orlando City)
8. Ethan Finlay (Minnesota United)
9. Alex Muyl (NY Red Bulls)
10. Kekuta Manneh(Columbus)

An important piece of the rebuilding job performed by Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera, Alberth Elis tied for second on the squad with 10 goals in 26 games. Last week the team converted his loan from Mexican club Monterrey into a full transfer at a fee reported to be more than $2 million and used its third Designated Player slot on him. At 21 his deal is a clear sign of Houston’s long-term ambitions.

Taken with the 67th overall SuperDraft pick in 2015 and loaned to USL club Charlotte for part of that year, Dominique Badji took another leap forward by hitting career bests of nine goals and six assists in 33 games (29 starts). He finished the season as a lone striker after playing off the shoulder of Kevin Doyle for most of the season, and one of the main tasks for new head coach Anthony Hudson will be utilizing Badji’s abilities.

A subpar season for playmaker Mauro Diaz shifted the playmaking burden to others, and Michael Barrios responded with a career-high 14 assists. But with defenses keyed to stop him he managed just one in his last eight games as FCD’s season fell apart.

After laboring at first MLS stop with Colorado, Luis Solignac founded a home in the Fire midfield after arriving in a trade midway through the 2016 season. He produced seven goals and four assists but also labored through pointless streaks of five games and seven games.

The Revs recently signed Teal Bunbury to a new contract after he scored seven goals in 28 games and was named by his teammates as their Player of the Year. With a new head coach (Brad Friedel) to impress Bunbury, 27, is at the crest of his career.

After being fined for missing a team flight, consistent play by Joao Plata pushed RSL into playoff contention, but an incident while on international duty with Ecuador cast another cloud over him. For the first half of the season, Carlos Rivas finally looked worthy of his Young DP status with four goals and five assists, but all he could produce in the second half was one goal. Once a mainstay of the Crew SC attack, Ethan Finlay responded to an August trade with three goals and three assists in 11 games with the Loons.

Alex Muyl popped up in a few different spots during the season and though his numbers (three goals, four assists) were rather modest he often brought some needed punch to the Red Bulls’ attack. Traded by the Whitecaps just three games into the season, Kekuta Manneh started only nine of 19 games but still managed four goals and three assists. He’s out of contract and recently returned from a trial with Hertha Berlin.
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