Jonathan Campbell

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PST selects its MLS Rookie of the Year

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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.

[ MORE: Aguero staying with City ]

Consider:

— 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.

[ USMNT: New home for Boyd? ]

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.

Looking into this year’s MLS “24 Under 24” list

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Major League Soccer’s web site rolled out its annual “24 under 24” this month, dropping the final five names in the last 24 hours.

Being atop the list doesn’t always mean you’re headed for superstardom, but it has meant trips overseas. Four of the six previous winners moved onto Europe at some point: Fabian Castillo, DeAndre Yedlin, Fredy Montero, and Brek Shea.

[ MORE: DC’s Birnbaum linked to Bundesliga ]

Shea, of course, has come back to MLS, joining Darlington Nagbe and Darren Mattocks as previous winners still in the league.

A terrific group of reporters, writers, and personalities put the list together, culling it from a list of 50. And far-be-it from PST to take a shot at some peers, so just consider these observations.

Spurned: Of the players were on the 50-player shortlist but did not advance into the final 24.

  1. Jonathan Campbell, Chicago — I have no idea how the highly rated Fire back, picked 12th in this year’s SuperDraft, is not in the Top 24. His 28 blocked shots are more than anyone on the list, and he’s third in clearances and interceptions.
  2. Victor Cabrera, Montreal — Moved out of the Starting XI seemingly during this compiling process, so hard to fault the voters. On the list, only Zimmerman has more interceptions.
  3. Jimmy Medranda, Sporting KC — Kinda baffling, though it does seem the voting tended to shift toward MLS Academy developed players?

Double spurned: Emmanuel Boateng didn’t make the 50-man list, but has two goals and five assists on LA at the age of 22.

Ranked worse than we thought:

  1. Walker Zimmerman, FC Dallas (11) — Yes, he’s a rookie. He’s also having one of the best defensive seasons of anyone in the entire league.
  2. Tim Parker, Vancouver (18) — The struggles of being a center back, we guess.

[ MORE: PST’s feature on FCD’s Matt Hedges & Zimmerman ]

Ranked higher than we thought:

  1. Kekuta Manneh, Vancouver (5) — He’s electric and shouldn’t be faulted for a long-term absence after a foot injury. Still a bit surprised.
  2. Lucas Melano, Portland (10) — He also can’t be faulted for carrying Designated Player status at his age, but we’d like to see more than his speed merchant status on a consistent basis.

MLS’ official 24-under-24

24. Cristian Roldan, Seattle
23. Tommy Redding, Orlando
22. Sean Davis, RBNY
21. Cristian Higuita, Orlando
20. Matt Polster, Chicago
19. Fatai Alashe, San Jose
18. Tim Parker, Vancouver
17. Juan Agudelo, New England
16. Jordan Allen, Real Salt Lake
15. Justen Glad, Real Salt Lake
14. Luciano Acosta, DC United
13. Ronald Matarrita, NYCFC
12. Diego Fagundez, New England
11. Walker Zimmerman, FC Dallas
10. Lucas Melano, Portland
9. Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas
8. Carlos Gruezo, FC Dallas
7. Wil Trapp, Columbus
6. Keegan Rosenberry, Philadelphia
5. Kekuta Manneh, Vancouver
4. Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas
3. Jordan Morris, Seattle
2. Jack Harrison, NYCFC
1. Cyle Larin, Orlando