Must-watch players: One MLS star to follow at each position in 2023
It’s go time, baby.
A backheel, a long solo run, amazing volleys - Week 32 had it all! Vote for your favorite goal below or at Twitter.com/MLS | Goal of the Week presented by AT&T 5G
An experienced MLS veteran with an eye for a pass, Julian Gressel joined Whitecaps FC via trade from D.C. United in exchange for up to $900,000 of MLS General Allocation Money on July 15, 2022.
'22: Having arrived in Vancouver in July via trade from D.C. United, Gressel recorded two goals and two assists in 11 starts and 14 appearances across all competitions in his first season with the 'Caps. The versatile midfielder/defender was also named to the MLS Team of the Week for Week 32 after scoring a first-time volley and game winner against Seattle Sounders FC on September 17 at BC Place.
'22: Gressel recorded seven assists in 16 starts and 17 appearances in MLS play for D.C. before being traded to the 'Caps in July.
'21: Gressel had an impressive 2021 season with the Black-and-Red and was an integral on-the-field presence after appearing in all 34 MLS Regular Season games (31 starts). In that time, the wingback scored two goals and recorded 13 assists in 2,699 minutes. With 13 assists, Gressel had the third-most in the MLS 2021 Regular Season and led all defenders in the category. After his two assists in United’s final game against Toronto FC on Nov. 7, the 27-year-old reached his 50th career assist. Gressel was the only D.C. United player who played in every match in 2021. He was named to the MLS Team of the Week in weeks 15, 27, and 35.
'20: In his first season with the club, Gressel appeared in all but one match and was a mainstay in his position as the Black-and-Red’s starting right midfielder after joining the club in a trade with Atlanta United in January. Gressel was named to the Match Week 21 MLS Team of the Week starting lineup after assisting a goal in D.C. United’s win against Atlanta United on Oct. 24 and then scoring the lone goal in a win against the Columbus Crew on Oct. 28. He was once again one of the best set piece takers in the league, and he finished his first season with D.C. United with two goals and three assists, tied for most goal contributions on the team.
ATLANTA UNITED FC
'19: In his third season in MLS, Gressel helped Atlanta United secure a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference. The midfielder scored a career-high six goals during the regular season and recorded 12 assists in 33 appearances (31 starts). Gressel created 71 chances for Atlanta and was named to MLS Team of the Week on three occasions. In the playoffs, Gressel continued to show his attacking ability as he recorded an assist and two goals in three matches, though Atlanta were defeated in the Eastern Conference Finals by Toronto.
'18: Gressel followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign with another impressive season for Atlanta United. The German scored four goals and led Atlanta United with a career-high 14 assists in 33 appearances (all starts). Once again Gressel showed his ability to pull the strings in the midfield as he created 58 chances for Atlanta. During the playoffs, Gressel recorded another assist as he was influential in helping Atlanta United win their first ever MLS Cup.
'17: After being drafted number eight overall in the 2017 MLS Superdraft, Gressel immediately made an impact after earning a spot in the starting lineup for Atlanta United's inaugural season. Whether Gressel was utilized as an attacking midfielder or as a winger, the German impressed with his ability to provide service for his teammates. Gressel finished his debut season with nine assists and five goals on his way to being named the 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year.
After spending his youth career in Germany, Julian Gressel committed to play at Providence College in Rhode Island. During his four seasons playing for Providence, Gressel earned a handful of honors as he established himself as one of the brightest young prospects in the nation. He finished his collegiate career with 30 goals and 26 assists in 74 appearances. Acknowledgements: MAC Hermann Top-15 Semifinalist (2016), NSCAA All-America First Team (2016), Big East Offensive Player of the Year (2016), All-Big East First Team (2016), Big East All-Tournament Team (2014, 2015, 2016), Big East All-Rookie Team (2013), All-Big East Second Team (2013, 2015)
After obtaining U.S. citizenship in November 2022, Gressel was called up to the U.S. men's national team for a pair of friendlies in January, earning his first international cap and start against Serbia on January 25 and coming into the match as a substitute against Colombia on January 28.