5 Best MLS Players Under 25
While I’ve undoubtedly left out some formidable youngsters, I’d like to highlight these 5 rising stars short of 25 years who are asserting themselves on the MLS stage this season. It’s best to get to know them sooner rather than later.
This 20-year-old English facilitator is making David Villa’s job easier as he’s created 26 key passes (passes that lead to a shot at goal) in 20 games, while adding 8 goals. His skill on the ball belies his inexperience as he maneuvers around opponents at a rate of 1.8 dribbles per game; a dribble is achieved when a player completely bypasses an opponent on the dribble, giving his team a numeric advantage going forward. Harrison is tied for 8th in the MLS in dribbles. While his passing accuracy could use refinement and he gets dispossessed too often (he must learn that from David Villa), he has the makings of an MLS star on the rise.
Defender, New York Red Bulls
This 24-year-old Jamaican constantly impacts the game by redirecting possession with his 2.3 tackles (defined here as confronting and dispossessing an opponent) and his 2.4 interceptions per game (12th in the MLS). Add his 0.5 blocks and 3.3 clearances per game and you’ll see he’s a top tier defender. Offensively, while he needs to significantly improve his passing accuracy, he’s been dangerous with his 4 assists and 10 key passes in 14 appearances. He looks as though he’ll be reeking havoc in defense for years to come.
Attacking Midfielder, New England Revolution
The first half of this MLS season has been something of a coming out party for this Uruguayan 22-year-old. He has shown dramatic improvement as an attacking midfielder who has also contributed defensively more than expected. In addition to his 4 goals and 6 assists in 18 games, he has added 1.1 key passes and 1.8 dribbles (tied for 8th in the MLS). Though he is an offensively-minded player, he sneakily adds 1.4 tackles and 0.7 interceptions per game. He’s also a solid passer and a growing threat on free kicks and long shots.
Midfielder, Seattle Sounders FC
Roldan has come out to quite the start with his 5 goals, 2 assists, 20 shots, and 24 key passes in 20 appearances. This 22-year-old midfielder’s full value surfaces when factoring in his defensive contributions. This includes 3.1 tackles, 1.6 interceptions, and 1.2 clearances per game. Roldan’s impact is revealed in his balance of offensive and defensive powers. He’s likely been a top 15 player in the MLS this season and looks to be a prominent two-way threat for the future.
Midfielder, Atlanta United FC
Last but certainly not least, Almiron is a 23-year-old magician who has taken the league by storm. As a midfielder, he’s already contributed 8 goals and 6 assists in 18 appearances. His role as a facilitator is solidified when you consider his 29 key passes (1.6 per game) and 42.5 passes per game at an 81% success rate. He’s elusive on the ball with his 1.4 dribbles and 1.5 fouls won per game. This attacking midfielder is creative, a legitimate scoring threat from distance, and a master of through balls while adding even more value with his unexpected 2.1 tackles per game. He’s genuinely a top 10 player in this league and is truly a beast who has fully arrived.
Which of these are your favorite? Which youngsters did I snub?
**Statistics sourced from WhoScored