Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
The best positioned 2010 rookies
by Ridge Mahoney, July 27th, 2010 12:39AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  los angeles galaxy, mls, new york red bulls, philadelphia union, san jose earthquakes

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] A lot of youngsters have earned regular playing time this season but the field is a bit short on truly outstanding prospects.

It’s not unusual for rookie defenders to make their mark in MLS, and take home the Rookie of the Year award.

Last year, Omar Gonzalez was a runaway winner, and in the past decade Sean Franklin, Jonathan Bornstein and Michael Parkhurst have taken home the prize. But attackers aren’t out of the running, as shown from 2001 to 2004, when the prize went to, respectively, Rodrigo Faria, Kyle Martino, Damani Ralph and Clint Dempsey.

Nor can a solid two-way player be ignored, and thus did Maurice Edu (2007) strike a chord for the guys who can go both ways. And truth be told, left back Bornstein played some midfield in 2006.

As for the rookie class of 2010, it’s very much a smattering of different sorts. Philly forward Danny Mwanga is quickly developing into a fast, powerful goalscorer that first-year defenders like Ike Opara (San Jose) and Tim Ream (New York), as well as most of the others, are stretched to contain. Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens has stamped himself a regular member of a very good team, and spectacular 17-year-old Andy Najar is seemingly destined for great things even though D.C. United is apparently not.

Ralph set a high rookie standard in 2003 when he scored 12 goals. This season, Mwanga, with five, is tied for the lead among rookies with Zack Schilawskiof New England, and has exceeded the goal total (four) compiled by finalist Kheli Dube in 2008.

In 2005, Scott Sealy hit nine goals and Chris Rolfe scored eight, yet both lost out in the voting to the Revs’ sensational defender Michael Parkhurst. As the overall No. 1 pick, Mwanga has been closely watched. With Philly yet to play one-half of its games, he will have opportunities.

Stephens is a very different player than 2007 winner Edu, yet he stepped right into the Galaxy midfield. He can link the back line to the attack, as his seven assists illustrate, and is still learning the positioning and timing essential in midfield. His possession game has fluctuated but on the few occasions he gets off to a bad start, as he did last Thursday in a 2-2 tie with San Jose, he usually gets back on track quickly. (He could become the first Rookie of the Year taken with a team’s only pick in the applicable SuperDraft, and would also give the Galaxy three straight winners.)

Ream enjoyed a great first month, then contributed to a few bad goals with errors and indecision. He got some valuable experience last week in the Barclays New York Challenge. Since he lacks the physical tools of 2009 winner Omar Gonzalez, he relies on quickness, confidence, and a very efficient presence with the ball.

No longer does Opara need to shuttle between the Quakes and classes at Wake Forest. Fast, strong, likeable, coachable and with a nose for goal (three scored plus more caused by getting to the ball), San Jose is well set with him at center back. Far less heralded but also getting good minutes is teammate Steve Beitashour, who has played both right back and right mid.

Attackers Tony Tchani(New York) and Teal Bunbury (Kansas City) are promising prospects. Zach Loyd is helping out in Dallas. Blair Gavin is a regular for Chivas USA. Seth Sinovic is on the field a lot for the Revs, and Steve Kinney (Chicago) hit the goalpost twice with headers on his debut, then scored in the next game.

With three months of the regular season still to play, here’s my top five Rookie of the Year candidates:

1. Danny Mwanga (Philadelphia)
2. Michael Stephens (Los Angeles)
3.Ike Opara (San Jose)
4. Tim Ream (New York)
5. Andy Najar (D.C. United)



0 comments
  1. james knowles
    commented on: July 27, 2010 at 8:07 a.m.
    what about blair gavin?!

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Jurgen Klinsmann    
"Every day you learn. You learn about every individual, about your group, about the chemistry, about ...
MLS Week 16: Results & standings    
Chad Barrett scored in the 90th minute to give the San Jose Earthquakes a 1-1 tie ...
USA-Colombia Copa Centenario Player Ratings    
The USA finished the Copa America Centenario the same way it had started the tournament: shut ...
Euro 2016: Griezmann rescues France with pair of goals    
Antoine Griezmann scored two goals four minutes apart to lead host France to a 2-1 win ...
What They're Saying: Sunil Gulati    
"Our base-line [for average attendance] was 30,000; 35,000 would've been great, and 40,000 beyond our wildest ...
What They're Saying: Investment banker Keith Harris    
"It was a shock result. There are four players that we can reflect on and the ...
What They're Saying: Megan Rapinoe    
"Gay bars are so important for me and my community. That could have been me. That ...
What They're Saying: Gudmundur Benediktsson    
"It's been quite strange and actually hectic because the phone hasn't stopped ringing. But I'm really ...
MLS: Top fives in Fan XI voting remain steady    
The MLS All-Star Game will be played July 28 in San Jose and every few days ...
MLS Countdown: Rivals wrap up season series early    
The MLS campaign has yet to reach its midpoint yet already teams are facing each other ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives