MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Top 5 Newcomers of the Year: Heber, Gil or Fernandez leading?

Heber - celebrating - first goal

This season, just as many before it, there has been an influx of stars to Major League Soccer, leaving yet another tight race for Newcomer of the Year.

The 2019 version of the award is still very much up for grabs, with a struggle at the top to separate from the pack and bring home individual silverware. What's the field looking like coming down the home stretch of MLS's 2019 season? 

Quick honorable mentions: The likes of Nani and Nico Gaitan have had solid individual seasons, though it hasn't translated to team success. Jamiro Monteiro has quietly been a catalyst for the Philadelphia Union, while Allan Cruz has been a bright spot for FC Cincinnati. Vito Mannone has helped lead the defensive revolution in Minnesota and Alejandro Pozuelo started fast but faded. 
What would this list look like with full seasons of Gustavo Bou and Cristian Pavon?

5. Romain Metanire

Top 5 Newcomers of the Year: Heber, Gil or Fernandez leading? -

Metanire at Allianz Field | USA Today Sports

A defender has never won this award -- and that won't change in 2019 -- but Metanire has been one of MLS's top additions. 

One of many defensive additions to Minnesota United this offseason, Metanire has been a top fullback in the league after a career spent mostly in France. He has six assists in 20 appearances and leads the league in crosses completed from open play.

Metanire was named to the MLS All-Star team a month ago, a well-earned recognition of his season. 

4. Eddie Segura

Another defender! 

Segura has appeared in each one of LAFC's 27 matches this season, a constant on one of the best regular-season teams in MLS history. Capable of defending in space, winning aerials and cool in possession, the Colombian has been a steal for LAFC. 

3. Brian Fernandez

Fernandez touched down in MLS like a meteor, scoring in each of his first five league games. He's slowed down since, though notched a brace each against the Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire

Still, 10 goals in 12 starts is a dream way to launch his MLS career in Portland. He has time to climb the scoring charts, too, as the Timbers have a league-high eight games left, including seven at home.  

2. Carles Gil

Perhaps two weeks ago, Gil would've been the leader. It's that tight at the top, changing regularly. 

The Spaniard came to the league under minimal fanfare but has been a top player since his debut. As the Revs began picking up more points under Bruce Arena, Gil's excellence caught more attention.

Gil was known for being a creative presence with a sweet left foot. His 12 assists aren't entirely shocking, though his tally of nine goals has been a bit of a pleasant surprise -- not that he didn't have the ability, just that he hadn't scored more than four goals in a single season throughout his career. Furthermore? His work rate has been top-notch, too. He far and away leads the league in possessions won in the final third this season with 44. Second place Kaku has 31. 

1. Heber

NYCFC's splits with and without Heber are simply too divergent for him to be anywhere but first at this time. His 13g/4a in 1,437 minutes ain't half bad, either. 

The numbers say NYCFC need their Brazilian striker:

  • When Heber starts: 11-2-3
  • When Heber doesn't start: 2-3-5

The eye test concurs. With Heber in the lineup, possession in the final third is much smoother. Transitions are more efficient. Celebrations are better, smiles are wider.