As we continue our running look at the Best of MLS 2016, we turn our collective gaze toward the players who were 19 or younger at any point in the year; those who turned 20 during the season were eligible.
Here’s what we came up with – MLSsoccer.com’s Best Teenagers Of 2016:
1. Jack Harrison, New York City FC
The No. 1 pick in this year's SuperDraft, Jack Harrison struggled with injuries early, but still more than lived up to his considerable pre-draft hype. The 19-year-old Englishman scored four goals and added seven assists in 21 regular season appearances for NYCFC, helping the club to its first-ever playoff appearance and finishing second to Jordan Morris in MLS Rookie of the Year voting. Harrison, who turned 20 on November 20, will look to add to those totals in what he hopes will be a healthier sophomore season.
2. Justen Glad, Real Salt Lake
Justen Glad quietly blossomed into one of Real Salt Lake’s most important defensive pieces in this year, appearing in 28 regular season games at center back as RSL returned to the playoffs after missing out in 2015. The 19-year-old, who signed a Homegrown deal with RSL in 2014, got some well-earned recognition from his teammates after the season, when he was named the club’s defensive player of the year.
3. Jordan Hamilton, Toronto FC
Jordan Hamilton, who turned 20 just after the season started in March, was effective in somewhat limited time this year, his third with Toronto FC. The Homegrown striker recorded three goals and one assist in 14 regular season matches and was effective up top during a run of games that Jozy Altidore missed due to injury over the summer.
4. Tommy Redding, Orlando City SC
Things didn’t go quite as smoothly as they did for Glad, but Tommy Redding emerged as a frequent contributor for Orlando City this year, appearing in 18 regular season contests – including 16 starts – for the Lions. The 19-year-old center back has plenty of talent, but, as is the case with nearly all young players, needs to be more consistent if he wants to become a full-time starter.
5. Alphonso Davies, Vancouver Whitecaps
We were very, very tempted to move Alphonso Davies, who only turned 16 on November 2, higher on this list, but couldn’t justify putting him ahead of any of his counterparts given his limited playing time this year. But don’t let the 299 MLS minutes fool you – Davies is legit. He made eight regular-season appearances this year and played a major role in helping the ‘Caps win their CONCACAF Champions League group, scoring a late winner in September against Sporting KC to book Vancouver’s place in the CCL Knockout Round.