MLS Fantasy: Who's the No. 1 player under 24? The stats don't lie, but the answer may surprise you

Fantasy 24 Under 24

Photo Credit: 
Gabriel de los Rios/MLSsoccer.com

Every year, a new crop of young, talented individuals fight their way onto a team, pushing the elder, more established player for a chance at a starting role. And this season, it's no different.

MLSsoccer.com's annual 24 Under 24 series kicked off Monday, and while previous winners Fredy Montero (2010), Brek Shea (2011) and Darren Mattocks (2012) are all very talented in their own right, rarely do youth and fantasy stardom coincide.

A group of 12 media pundits and 12 MLSsoccer.com editors voted on this year's class, but in MLS Fantasy, we let the stats do the talking.

Here are the top scoring players in MLS Fantasy younger than the age of 24...

24. Jonathan Osorio

Didn't feature much for TFC until midway through the season, yet his five goals are still second-best on the team. Eight of his 18 key passes have come within the past two games. If he can get some help offensively during the offseason, he could be a fantasy sleeper in 2014.

  • Team: Toronto FC
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Total Score: 81
  • Price: $5.2m

23. Danny Cruz

Through 29 games Cruz has tallied three goals and two assists in 1,817 minutes played. His ball control/skill in the final third has improved since entering the league in 2009, but he still struggles with decision-making. Fantasy owners won't be banking on his production week in, week out anytime soon.

  • Team: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Total Score: 81
  • Price: $6.0m

22. Joao Plata

Whether it's as a starter or as a substitute, the 21-year-old Ecuadorian has proven to be a reliable attacking threat when called upon. He ranks second in assists (eight), second in Big Chances Created (five) and eighth in goals (three) on a RSL team loaded with talent. Consistent playing time is the only thing holding this bright young player from producing at a greater rate.

  • Team: Real Salt Lake
  • Position: Forward
  • Total Score: 84
  • Price: $6.4m

21. Gershon Koffie

Koffie offers stability in Vancouver's central midfield with an ability to finish every now and then. He's shown sparks of brilliance, but consistent playing time has plagued him. He's seen the field for 31 minutes or less in 10 games this season, but has somehow managed to record 186 recoveries. In his last 10 games, he's tallied double-digit recoveries seven times.

  • Team: Vancouver Whitecaps
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Total Score: 86
  • Price: $7.7m

20. Kofi Sarkodie

Through the first 17 games, Sarkodie logged the full 90 minutes on just five times. However, in the last 11 games, he's seen the full 90 a whopping 10 times. As an outside back, Sarkodie has shown the ability to get forward (contributing three goals and two assists), but you'll need Houston's defense to return to 2012 form in order to make adding him worthwhile.

  • Team: Houston Dynamo
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 88
  • Price: $4.8m

19. Jack McInerney

Ten goals in his first 14 games; zero goals in his last 15 games. Once deemed a favorite for the Golden Boot, this 21-year-old has turned into a Big Chance Fluffed magnet. His 11 BCFs are second-most in MLS this season. The Union have the ability to turn things around, but nothing seems to be working as of late.

  • Team: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Forward
  • Total Score: 90
  • Price: $8.2m

18. Bill Hamid

It's been a difficult season for this "up-and-coming" US men's national team hopeful. Through 21 games, Hamid has conceded 33 goals while recording just four clean sheets for struggling United. Next season cannot come soon enough.

  • Team: D.C. United
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Total Score: 92
  • Price: $4.8m

17. Deshorn Brown

Brown is one of five rookies currently seeing significant playing time for the Colorado Rapids. His finishing hasn't been the greatest at times (five Big Chances Fluffed) but he's still managed to bag seven goals and three assists in 1,918 minutes. Hopefully he can benefit from the experience Colorado have added at forward.

  • Team: Colorado Rapids
  • Position: Forward
  • Total Score: 92
  • Price: $5.8m

16. Raymon Gaddis

The second-year defender has made 23 appearances so far this season, already five more than his total in 2012. He's helped the Union surpass their shutout total (eight) from a year ago while proving to be a very versatile defender. Gaddis has done well to shut down the oppositions attack at two different positions (right and left fullback), but fails to offer much offensively.

  • Team: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 93
  • Price: $5.0m

15. Oriol Rosell

Currently tied for ninth among all field players with 197 recoveries, Rosell has proven to be a key part of Sporting KC's success as of late. He's primarily used as a deep-lying midfielder, which doesn't necessarily equate to much on the attacking end, but he's played a role in each of the team's 11 clean sheets in 2013.

  • Team: Sporting KC
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Total Score: 94
  • Price: $6.2m

14. Perry Kitchen

Kitchen has had a few bright moments in 2013, but hasn't quite lived up to his $6.0m starting price. He's right behind Rosell in recoveries (195), but he's also been on the field for 44 of the 46 goals conceded by D.C. this season.

  • Team: D.C. United
  • Position: Midfielders
  • Total Score: 97
  • Price: $5.5m

13. DeAndre Yedlin

This promising young athlete has logged the most minutes of any Seattle player this season (2,080 minutes), logging 89 minutes or more in 23 of 27 games. He offers a smooth balance defensively – CBIs (142) and recoveries (126) – but his ability to go forward and contribute to the attack is what fans are yearning for. Currently tied for the fourth most clean sheets among any defender in MLS, Yedlin has become a reliable asset you want on your team now!

  • Team: Seattle Sounders
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 105
  • Price: $5.0m

12. Andrew Farrell

In his first 13 MLS games, Farrell helped New England record a shutout on eight separate occasions. His defensive numbers are slightly better than Yedlin's – CBIs (162) and recoveries (140) – but there's still something to be desired offensively. He was a must-add to start the season, but he's not anymore.

  • Team: New England Revolution
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 110
  • Price: $4.9m

11. Felipe Martins

This 22-year-old offers a solid balance offensively for a Montreal midfield that can be deemed somewhat crowded at times. Among midfielders, he's in the top 20 in key passes (35), top 15 in goals (five) and assists (five), and top five in Big Chances Created (eight). With a little more consistency in 2014, Felipe could be a must-own year round.

  • Team: Montreal Impact
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Total Score: 110
  • Price: $8.2m

10. Andrew Baptiste

Got off to somewhat of a rocky start and sat a few games as a result. However, in the last 19 games, he's gone the full 90 minutes all but once. He's played a role in nine of Portland's 10 clean sheets and currently ranks 10th among all players in CBIs (243). Not the best option each week, but someone you can rely on from time to time.

  • Team: Portland Timbers
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 113
  • Price: $4.7m

9. Kelyn Rowe

One of the hottest players in MLS right now. He creates chances for his team (35 key passes, four Big Chances Created), he wins the second ball (102 recoveries) and he's producing at a great rate as of late (seven goals, six assists). His six assists are the most by a New England player. He's on my team right now. You should have your eye on him as well!

  • Team: New England Revolution
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Total Score: 113
  • Price: $5.8m

8. Diego Fagundez

What Fagundez lacks defensively in comparison to Rowe he makes up for on the offensive side of the ball. He leads the team in goals (10), he's second in assists (five) and currently ranks third in BCCs with three. If you're looking for a bang-for-your-buck type of forward, it doesn't get much better than this.

  • Team: New England Revolution
  • Position: Forward
  • Total Score: 117
  • Price: $6.8m

7. Dillon Powers

There's no rookie within miles of Powers who offers this much playmaking ability. Currently owned by 11 percent of all fantasy owners, Powers produces on both sides of the ball. He's involved in set-pieces and it shows in his stats. He currently ranks fifth in MLS in key passes (61) and 8th in successful crosses (45). It's shocking that his assist total (four) isn't higher.

  • Team: Colorado Rapids
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Total Score: 118
  • Price: $6.3m

6. Darlington Nagbe

For someone playing so high up the pitch, Nagbe wins the second ball at a pretty good rate (113 recoveries). His offensive production is sporadic, offering you 2-3 point outings more often than not, but he has moments of greatness every 3-4 weeks. Portland spreads the love around, making Nagbe a high-risk player on a weekly basis.

  • Team: Portland Timbers
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Total Score: 121
  • Price: $8.1m

5. Sheanon Williams

Williams is one of the most reliable players in MLS, ranking 12th overall in minutes played (2,514) this season. He has average defensive numbers – CBIs (128) and recoveries (132) – but at outside back, he adds an extra dimension going forward. Williams is tied for sixth in crosses (20), tied for fifth in assists (5) 4th in key passes (26) and first in BCCs (seven) among defenders.

  • Team: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 130
  • Price: $5.2m

4. Matt Hedges

One of the most popular defensive players early in 2013 faded in the second half of the season when FC Dallas started giving up goals. As the outright leader in CBIs with 344, Hedges has notched at least three defending bonus points 15 times in 2013.

  • Team: FC Dallas
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 130
  • Price: $5.6m

3. Amobi Okugo

Owned by nearly 19 percent of MLS Fantasy owners, Okugo is the most popular selection of all 24 players on this list. Plagued by being labeled a midfielder at the beginning of the 2013 season, this stud center back has missed out on several points. He ranks ninth among all players in CBIs (259) and 11th among all midfielders in recoveries (195). Only one player (Mike Magee) has risen more in price this season than Okugo (from $6.0m to $7.3m).

  • Team: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 132
  • Price: $7.3m

2. Chris Klute

Tied with Thierry Henry for 14th in scoring overall, Klute has become one of the most desired fantasy players in all of MLS. Klute missed the first three games of the season, yet he's still sixth in key passes (24), fourth in points (136), third in crosses (27), second in BCCs (5) and first in assists (7) among defenders. The rookie left back has tallied six or more points on 14 different occasions.

  • Team: Colorado Rapids
  • Position: Defender
  • Total Score: 136
  • Price: $5.4m

1. Zac MacMath

MacMath is the 11th highest-scoring player in MLS Fantasy 2013 and the third-best goalkeeper behind Tally Hall and Luis Robles. He's tied for the league lead in shutouts (10), but at the same time is tied for the league lead in errors leading to goal (four). He ranks third overall in recoveries with 321. MacMath hasn't been the best goalkeeper this season, but at 22 years old, he presents a strong case that he's one of the best younger than 24.

  • Team: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Total Score: 138
  • Price: $5.1m

That's it. Were you shocked to see so many Philadelphia Union players so high on this list? Are the New England Revolution destined for future success? Leave your comments below!