Rookie Rankings: Who has pole position before final push?

After a month off and position neither gained nor lost, the Rookie Rankings return, refocused and ready to handicap the Rookie of the Year race for the final month of a regular season that's boasted strong contributions from its rookie participants.

One thing should be clear about these rankings: Position is determined by the total contribution of each player to their respective teams. Potential is certainly part of the overall equation, but only in the sense that its consideration is born of production on the field rather than the promise of something more yet to come.

For that reason, the Chicago Fire's Austin Berry is currently atop the heap, the result of a sparkling personal campaign in which his team has slowly climbed its way into the Supporters' Shield race. Not far behind, though, are D.C. United's Nick DeLeon, Vancouver's Darren Mattocks, Toronto FC's Luis Silva and FC Dallas' Matt Hedges.

For a more detailed look at Major League Soccer's best young talent, check out MLSsoccer.com's 24 Under 24 series.

Who do you think has inside track for Rookie of the Year recognition? Have your say in the comments section below or make your voice heard by voting in the poll to the right!

Only MLS regular-season games reflected on schedule and statistics.

Rank Trending Last Player Comment

1

1

Austin Berry

For the first six games of his MLS career, Berry watched from the relative safety of the substitutes' bench. Then, with Corey Gibbs' absence casting a long shadow, Frank Klopas inserted his 24-year-old rookie into the starting lineup for good. Now, 23 straight starts later, Berry has put together a glowing rookie campaign and the Fire are a game in hand away from taking control of first place in the Eastern Conference.

2

5

Nick DeLeon

Make no mistake, there have been some lulls in production this season, mostly the result of injury, but DeLeon has been a remarkably consistent presence in Ben Olsen's lineup. As D.C. United pushed their way back into the thick of the playoff field, sparked by three straight wins, the Louisville product has been a 90-minute contributor in midfield. Only Dan Kennedy's brilliance denied him a spectacular goal last weekend.

3

2

Darren Mattocks

As recently as a month ago, it seemed that Mattocks might have the Rookie of the Year race wrapped up. He was scoring goals for a solid Whitecaps side that looked like it would coast into the playoffs. These days, things aren't quite so hunky-dory in British Columbia for Mattocks – or the club, for that matter. He's still just a goal away from igniting another burst of production, but playing time has been sporadic for the past month.

4

3

Luis Silva

Two goals and three assists. That's what Silva has chipped in over TFC's past six games. Of course, that production hasn't let to anything resembling success for the snakebit side, but at least the club can plan for the future with the knowledge that it has a versatile midfielder to build around. Once in the starting lineup for good on July 11, Silva's missed just one minute and amassed his entire league goal and assist haul.

5

4

Matt Hedges

While Ugo Ihemelu and George John, FC Dallas' presumed starting center back pairing entering 2012, have struggled with stop-start seasons due to injury, Hedges has stepped up to fill in admirably. Since the former Tar Heel entered the lineup on May 19, FCD are 6-6-6 and find themselves within striking distance of the playoff field. Has he been perfect? No, but Hedges has certainly earned a place in the rankings.