2016 was a very good year for first-year players in Major League Soccer, whether they came from a strong first round of the MLS SuperDraft or were flat-out Homegrown studs.
It was another example of the depth of talent in NCAA Soccer, as even top Homegrown players like Jordan Morris (Seattle/Stanford) and Alex Muyl (New York Red Bulls/Georgetown) had their development aided in the college game.
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— Top SuperDraft pick Jack Harrison took his electric season at Wake Forest and neatly transitioned into a Rookie of the Year finalist at NYCFC after being selected first overall.
— No. 3 pick Keegan Rosenberry is also a finalist after an outstanding year for the Union that could’ve earned him shouts for the top defender overall, and No. 2 pick Joshua Yaro also saw significant time for the Union and Fabian Herbers got into 30 matches as well as part of Philly’s surprising playoff run.
— Chicago’s Jonathan Campbell led the Fire in minutes, while Brandon Vincent was fourth. They went 12th and 4th in the draft.
— It didn’t stop there. It may’ve not been a surprise to see first rounders Tsubasa Endoh (Toronto) and Julian Buscher (DC United) succeed, but what about New England third round pick Femi Hollinger-Jansen?
MLS whittled its awards finalists down to three: Morris, Rosenberry, and Harrison. Aside from a lone write-in for Endoh, our staff didn’t see much wrong with the voters’ selections.
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First-place votes were a little more varied amongst our staff. Rosenberry and Harrison each earned a nod, while three of us saw it the same way.
Jordan Morris is PST’s MLS Rookie of the Year.
It’s not just his American rookie record for goals, it’s that the Sounders’ 22-year-old forward improved in every part of his game in his first year as a pro (even including the use of his oft-maligined left foot).
His 12 goals led Seattle, and consider just what he had to deal with after turning down Bundesliga interest to stay in Washington:
- Pegged to ease into the pro game as the third Sounders attacker, Obafemi Martins skipped town on the ease of the season to heap more pressure on the Stanford grad.
- American legend Clint Dempsey underwent multiple heart procedures, only making 17 appearances.
- Oh yeah, the Sounders fired another legend in Sigi Schmid.
Morris also scored six of his 12 goals on the road, never an easy achievement with Major League Soccer’s distinct home field advantage. He added four assists.
Given Rosenberry’s position, it’s difficult to imagine Morris won’t win the official MLS award as well, giving the league a decisive winner for the second year in a row.