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#MLSRank 30-21: Kaka, Dos Santos and Howard make the list

Janusz Michallik and Steve Nicol disagree over whether David Villa or Giovinco is a better player to build a squad around.

ESPN FC is ranking the top 30 players in MLS for the 2017 season in our #MLSRank feature. Here are Nos. 30-21:

#MLSRank: 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

Federico Higuain | 32 | Midfielder | Columbus Crew SC
At age 32, Higuain remains the centerpiece of Columbus Crew SC's attack, showing an ability to score goals and set them up with clever runs and incisive passes. An injury-hit 2016 season saw Higuain's production fall a bit, but the Argentine has enjoyed a fine bounce-back campaign. He already has nine goals and five assists to his name.

Matt Hedges | 27 | Defender | FC Dallas
The reigning MLS Defender of the Year has been the backbone of a Dallas side that has ascended into the league's elite in recent years. His dominating aerial presence and ability to play the ball out of the back make him a perfect fit for manager Oscar Pareja.

Sacha Kljestan | 31 | Midfielder | New York Red Bulls
Kljestan has been at the controls of the Red Bulls' attack ever since he returned to the league from Anderlecht prior to the 2015 campaign. Since then, he has racked up 15 goals and 43 assists, with the latter number the most in MLS in that span. His work on the defensive side of the ball has helped the Red Bulls' press as well.

Osvaldo Alonso | 31 | Midfielder | Seattle Sounders
The Cuban-born Alonso is as tough as they come, having taken several injections in his knee during last year's MLS Cup triumph. His tackling and passing have long been part of the Sounders' foundation. He's a winner too, having claimed six trophies during his nine seasons in Seattle.

Tim Howard | 38 | Goalkeeper | Colorado Rapids
When Howard went down with a groin injury that required surgery last October, the end of his career seemed near. Instead, Howard has come back stronger than ever, and his stellar saves in the knockout rounds of the Gold Cup helped lead the U.S. to the title. His play for Colorado has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Rapids.

Benny Feilhaber | 32 | Midfielder | Sporting Kansas City
Feilhaber remains one of the most creative midfielders the U.S. has ever produced, with his range of passing and eye for the spectacular -- who can forget his game winner in the 2007 Gold Cup final? -- making him instrumental in Sporting Kansas City's push for another MLS Cup crown.

Erick "Cubo" Torres | 24 | Forward | Houston Dynamo
The "Goal Robot" is back, and so is the Houston Dynamo. The Mexico international looked like a colossal bust in Houston for the better part of two seasons, failing to find the net. But with the help of manager Wilmer Cabrera and a passel of attacking sidekicks, Torres is finding the net again, to the tune of 12 goals so far this season.

Romain Alessandrini | 28 | Midfielder | LA Galaxy
If it weren't for Alessandrini, it's tough to say where the Galaxy would be right now. As it stands, the Frenchman's dynamic play, be it out on the wing or in more central positions, has resulted in eight goals and eight assists, making him one of the few things worth watching in LA this season. It's too bad new manager Sigi Schmid can't clone him.

Giovani dos Santos | 28 | Midfielder | LA Galaxy
LA's season of struggle has made it easy to forget that last year, Dos Santos basically carried the Galaxy on his back as the likes of Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard missed time with injuries. But the Mexico international's ability in the attacking third remains potent, as witnessed by his six goals so far. Perhaps the signing of brother Jonathan in July will help.

Kaka | 35 | Midfielder | Orlando City SC
The Brazilian might be at the tail end of his career, but the quality of his vision, touch and passing is still evident in his 17th year as a professional. Injuries have limited his contributions in recent seasons, but when he's on the field, Kaka is still a player opponents must keep an eye on at all times.

#MLSRank: 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.


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