Colombus Crew v D.C. United

Is D.C. United the “new New England” in rookie matters?

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Fans from MLS 1.0 days remember that New England became the standard bearer in turning smart draft picks into suppliers of valuable MLS minutes through much of the last decade.

Clint Dempsey (2004) and Michael Parkhurst (2005) were Revolution men who claimed MLS Rookie of the Year honors. Pat Noonan (2003), James Riley (2005) and Kevin Alston (2009) proved to be other smart and productive draft choices from the Steve Nicol regime.

But it seems as if D.C. United is the “new New England” in terms of squeezing juice from fruit of the rookie tree. The sample size of the proof keeps growing.

Major League Soccer announced its awards finalists this morning. Among the awards to be announced over the coming two weeks is Rookie of the Year. There are no surprises among the threesome of finalists:

  • Austin Berry, Chicago Fire
  • Nick DeLeon, D.C. United (pictured)
  • Darren Mattocks, Vancouver Whitecaps

While these aren’t surprises, it does underscore the prudent choices coming from RFK Stadium deciders on MLS draft day. This is the fourth consecutive season that a young United man has been named a Rookie of the Year finalist.

Chris Pontius (2009) and Perry Kitchen (2011) were previous draft choices who made the list of finalists. So did Andy Najar, who won in 2010), although the young attacker was an academy singing rather than a draft choice.

(MORE: ProSoccerTalk’s Rookie of the Year conversation)

United’s 2009 draft was especially productive, even if other clubs would eventually reap some of the greater reward. In addition to Pontius, defender Rodney Wallace (now with Portland) was the No 6 overall pick that year. Goalkeeper Milos Kocic went at No. 21 for D.C. United; he became the starter last year at Toronto after an injury to Stefan Frei.

And Brandon Barklage was the 36th  overall pick in 2009; United released him last year after a series of injuries and he has since become a valued New York Red Bulls defender.

 

 

WATCH: Carrasco levels Champions League final, finds partner for long kiss

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28:  Yannick Carrasco of Atletico Madrid celebrates afte scorig the equalizing goal during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Milan on a starry night sounds romantic. Add in a massive match-tying goal, and it was all too much for Yannick Carrasco.

The 22-year-old Belgian attacker got on the end of Juanfran‘s cross and beat Keylor Navas at the near post.

[ MORE: Griezmann’s PK miss ]

In celebration, Carrasco raced toward a pitch side suite and into the arms and lips of what we presume is his partner for a gift that must count as much as a few dozen roses (but probably smelled much worse).

WATCH: Griezmann misses Torres-won PK in huge Champions League moment

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28: Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid speaks to head coach Diego Simeone during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Frankly, Antoine Griezmann embodied the Atletico Madrid attack in the first half, so it was no surprise when he stepped up to the penalty spot early in the second half.

Fernando Torres had won a penalty kick from Pepe after the Portuguese back stamped on his ankle in the 46th minute, and Greizmann got Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas going the wrong direction before cranking the ball off the bar.

[ MORE: Hull City snares last PL spot for 2016-17 ]

The miss looms large.

Argentine star Messi leaves Honduras match with back injury

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 08:  (L-R) Jose Juan Vazquez #23 of Mexico and Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina during a international friendly at AT&T Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi left the field with a back injury in the second half of a 1-0 victory over Honduras in a friendly Friday night.

The Argentine team captain and Barcelona star was hit on an apparently inconsequential play and immediately went to the locker room. He was replaced at the 62-minute mark by Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and never returned to the field.

“Messi suffered a trauma to the left side of his lower back and rib cage,” the Argentine Football (Soccer) Association said in a statement, adding that doctors were looking at the injury.

[ MORE: Hull City snares last PL spot for 2016-17 ]

Messi is not a player who leaves the field with minor injuries like he did Friday at San Juan’s Bicentenario stadium.

“I would not dare to venture a diagnosis,” said a concerned Argentine manager, Gerardo Martino.

Gonzalo Higuain, who scored for Argentina, said it “was an important win and here’s hoping that what happened to Leo is nothing.”

Messi was scheduled to fly to Spain to resolve a tax issue and then rejoin the team in Santa Clara, California.

Hull City secures PL position next season

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28: Ross Wallace of Sheffield Wednesday make a break during Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final match between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Mohamed Diame was the hero on the day for Hull City, as the Tigers gain promotion to the Premier League next season.

The Senegalese attacker sent Sheffield Wednesday packing on Saturday afternoon at Wembley Stadium after hitting a scorching long-distance effort past goalkeeper Kieren Westwood in the second half.

After an initial back-and-forth spell of chances over the opening half hour-plus, Sheffield was drastically taken out of the match as Hull began to gain their composure on the ball.

Hull City will join Championship winners Burnley and Middlesbrough in the Premier League in 2016-17 after being promoted. Relegated clubs Newcastle, Norwich City and Aston Villa will take their place in England’s second flight.

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