By FRANCO PANIZO
The final weekend of the 2013 MLS regular season is upon us, and with it comes another opportunity for this year’s class of rookies to make an impression.
The 2013 MLS draft class has churned out many impactful professionals, players who in their first seasons have already shown an ability to score timely goals, defend impressively or handle the rigors of being an every-game starter. There has been no shortage of talent this year, and that is why the Rookie of the Year race is as tight as it is.
From the Colorado Rapids duo of Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers to Seattle Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin, there have been several standout rookies in 2013. Each of them have made a strong case for themselves, but no one has really been leaps and bounds better than the rest of the pack, which could mean that a tight vote is in store for the award this season.
Here’s a closer look at the 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year candidates:
The Colorado Rapids forward has been an integral part of his club’s surprising success this season. Brown has impressively played in 30 games, contributing with 10 goals and four assists, and led the front line of a team that is playoff-bound despite suffering a slew of injuries. The 22-year-old Brown, who was recently called up by Jamaica due to his strong form at the club level, will be key in Colorado’s postseason push.
Another Rapids player who has lifted a heavy load by starting in 29 of the 30 matches he has appeared in, Powers has shone in midfield for the Rapids. Not only has the 22-year-old rookie chipped in defensively with his bite and hustle, but he also has contributed on the other side of the ball. Powers has scored five goals and assisted on six others, solid numbers considering how he was viewed by some prior to the start of the year.
Big things were expected of the New England Revolution defender after being chosen with the No. 1 overall pick, and it is safe to say that he has lived up them thus far. In 2013, Farrell has demonstrated his versatility, speed and immense potential all while establishing himself as an important part of a New England team that is on the cusp of the playoffs. The 21-year-old fullback has started in each of the 31 matches he has played in this year, and proven a capable defender with an ability to jump into the attack with his speed.
If there is one thing that matches Yedlin’s array of stylish appearances, it is his potential. The Seattle Sounders youngster is as promising a prospect as there is in MLS and he proved that this season with his ability to run up and down the right flank with ease. Yedlin has started in 29 of the 30 games he has played in so far, and he has been more of a threat than his statistics (one goal, two assists) seem to indicate.
The youngest player on this list, the 18-year-old Manneh might be seen as a long shot to win this year’s award but he is deserving of some recognition given his game-changing abilities. Manneh has not been relied up by the Vancouver Whitecaps as heavily as other rookies have by their teams (five starts in 19 appearances) but he still has shown flashes of brilliance , especially in the recent outing that saw him become the youngest player in MLS history to score a hat-trick.
It’s easy to forget that the LA Galaxy attacker is a rookie given just how polished his game already is. The 22-year-old Zardes has been a steady contributor for the star-studded Galaxy this year and come through with four goals and four assists in 26 matches. Zardes might be a darkhorse in this race, but do not be too surprised if he receives a chunk of the overall votes given that he has become a regular for Bruce Arena.
Who do you think should win the MLS Rookie of the Year award? Think this year’s race will come down to the wire? Is there anyone else you would consider for the award?
Share your thoughts below.