MLS Rookie Rankings: After 34 games, one man standing

You'll notice the long line of yellow dashes in the final MLS Rookie Rankings of the 2012 season. Week 33 ushered in no change as none of the candidates managed to swing the polls in their final opportunity.

That means it's Chicago's Austin Berry, at least in the eyes of this voter and the rest of the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff, whose votes you can see below. D.C.'s Nick DeLeon did plenty to get his name out there, but Berry was the more important presence for his team over the course of the entire season.

All in all, the 2012 class of MLS rookies have been short-shrifted. Many observers have claimed it's a weak crop. But consider this: C.J. Sapong was the the runaway winner in 2011 after scoring five goals and dishing out five assists for Sporting KC. This year, Toronto FC's Luis Silva matched that production in fewer minutes but managed only fourth place in our rankings. Vancouver's Darren Mattocks barely cracked the top five despite scoring seven goals, the most among rookies, and playing less than two-thirds the minutes that Sapong played in 2011. And New England's Kelyn Rowe had three goals and five assists but couldn't crack the upper echelon.

Have an opinion about the 2012 rookie class? Who gets your Rookie of the Year vote? Have your say in the comments section below or make your voice heard by voting in the poll to the right!

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

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

Rank Trending Last Player Comment

1

1

Austin Berry

He's been here for most of the second half of the season, and that's not changing now. Berry, like FC Dallas' Matt Hedges, wasn't expected to be a starter in his first season in MLS. Of course, expectations have a way of changing rather quickly. After incumbent Corey Gibbs went down with a season-ending injury, Berry stepped in to partner Arne Friedrich and the Fire never looked back. If anyone else wins the award at this point, it will be an absolute shock.

2

2

Nick DeLeon

What a season. What a player. DeLeon may have landed just behind his former Louisville teammate in these rankings – imagine the friendly trash talk to come in the offseason – but he's got just as bright a future. Perhaps even brighter. The rumblings have already begun in some corners about the 22-year-old's international future. He's got the technical and physical building blocks, but can he stay healthy and productive?

3

3

Matt Hedges

You have to admire the effort fellow FCD center back George John put into pitching his young partner for Rookie of the Year. It was well deserved after a season in which Hedges responded to injuries along the backline like a veteran. Now, he wasn't always perfect, but there's no doubt he'll have some of the rough edges (positioning, lateral movement, communication) ironed out with another preseason to build on and plenty of confidence to draw upon.

4

4

Luis Silva

Ask most TFC fans to name a bright spot during the 2012 season, and a sizable contingent will almost certainly point to Silva. He took some time to get going, but grabbed his opportunity when it presented itself. He's a bit older than DeLeon, turning 24 in December, but he's got similar tools and seems more comfortable playing in the middle than his D.C. counterpart. Will Paul Mariner build around him? He probably should.

5

5

Darren Mattocks

Connor Lade is knocking at Mattocks' door, but the combination of potential and production in limited minutes is too much to pass up. One concern: The Jamaican is in the midst of a three-month drought and didn't particularly trouble RSL last weekend. He needs service. Is Vancouver the team to provide it? Probably not in their current conservative set-up, but 2013 is another year. One that will hopefully include fewer injuries as well.

Players to watch in 2013: Connor Lade, Tony Cascio, Antoine Hoppenot, Kelyn Rowe, Casey Townsend, Andrew Wenger