NEW YORK (Thursday, September 28, 2017) – MLSsoccer.com announced today that Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almirón has been voted the No. 1 player in the 2017 MLSsoccer.com 24 Under 24. The top 10 players were unveiled on a special edition of ExtraTime Live driven by Continental on Facebook Live.
Almirón headlines a star-studded group that features seven Young Designated Players, including fellow Atlanta player and eighth-ranked Héctor Villalba, Real Salt Lake teammates Albert Rusnák and Jefferson Savarino, D.C. United newcomer Paul Arriola, Houston Dynamo striker Alberth Elis and FC Dallas midfielder Carlos Gruezo. The average age of this Designated Player group is 22.5 years old.
The caliber of this year’s ranking encapsulates the increased talent and experience in this series with a balance of 13 returnees and 11 newcomers. Seven Homegrown Players make up the list, with four Homegrowns ranked in the top 10. Fourteen clubs are recognized in the 2017 series, and four teams have three representatives: Atlanta, Dallas, New York City FC and Salt Lake.
With Almirón’s top billing, Atlanta becomes the first MLS expansion franchise to achieve the No. 1 spot since the 24 Under 24 series began in 2010.
Highlighting the top five:
The 23-year-old Miguel Almirón has played a crucial role in his first MLS season as a key contributor to Atlanta’s exciting expansion campaign. The Paraguayan international has doled out 13 assists and tallied nine goals in 29 matches this year. Recently referred to as Atlanta’s “heartbeat” by teammate and MLS veteran Jeff Larentowicz, Almirón recorded a memorable hat trick during Atlanta’s 4-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo on May 20. He has also shined among the league’s best, earning a spot on the 2017 MLS All-Star Team and appearing in 10 games with Paraguay’s national team, including the Copa America Centenario and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
At No. 2, FC Dallas Homegrown Player and budding U.S. National Team midfielder Kellyn Acosta continues to add to his credentials for both club and country. Gaining 24 Under 24 recognition for a third straight year, Acosta has moved up the list from being voted fourth in 2016 and 14th in 2015. The Plano, Texas native has already surpassed 100 career appearances since signing with FC Dallas in 2012. One of four players in this year’s 24 Under 24 who were part of the U.S. National Team’s 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup-winning squad, Acosta is among the likes of Dallas and U.S. MNT goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris and D.C.’s Paul Arriola.
New York City FC midfielder Jack Harrison becomes the fifth person in the 24 Under 24 series’ history to earn back-to-back top-three rankings. Harrison, who was No. 2 in 2016, comes in at the No. 3 spot this year. The top selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft is thriving during his sophomore campaign with NYCFC, establishing himself as an unsung offensive threat alongside 2016 Landon Donovan MVP winner David Villa. Recording a career-high 10 goals to go with six assists in 31 matches, Harrison has played a vital role in leading NYCFC to its second straight Audi MLS Cup Playoffs berth.
At No. 4, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 16-year-old phenom Alphonso Davies earns his first appearance in 24 Under 24. Davies signed as a Homegrown Player last year at age 15, and is this season earning regular minutes for one of the top-rated Western Conference sides of 2017. Davies’ breakout moment was with Canada’s national team when he recorded a brace during a 4-2 victory against French Guiana in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. With three tournament goals, Davies was named to the Gold Cup Best XI, earned the Young Player Award and won the Golden Boot, providing a glimpse of what’s to come for Whitecaps FC.
Rounding out the top five is Orlando City SC forward Cyle Larin, who earned the No. 1 ranking in 2016 and has been named to the the 24 Under 24 series on three consecutive occasions. The 2015 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year and top selection in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft is delivering once again with 12 goals in 27 games, and he has produced 43 goals in 86 matches during his three-year MLS tenure.
For full coverage of 2017 MLS 24 Under 24, including interviews, features and more, visit www.mlssoccer.com/series/24-under-24.
MLSsoccer.com 24 Under 24 winners:
2010: Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders FC
2011: Brek Shea, FC Dallas
2012: Darren Mattocks, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
2013: Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers
2014: DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders FC
2015: Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas
2016: Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC
2017: Miguel Almirón, Atlanta United
2017 MLSsoccer.com 24 Under 24:
1. Miguel Almirón, Atlanta United^
2. Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas*
3. Jack Harrison, New York City FC
4. Alphonso Davies, Vancouver Whitecaps FC*^
5. Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC
6. Yangel Herrera, New York City FC^
7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders FC*
8. Héctor Villalba, Atlanta United^
9. Paul Arriola, D.C. United^
10. Tyler Adams, New York Red Bulls*^
11. Yamil Asad, Atlanta United^
12. Alberth Elis, Houston Dynamo^
13. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders FC
14. Carlos Gruezo, FC Dallas
15. Albert Rusnák, Real Salt Lake
16. Ronald Matarrita, New York City FC
17. Erik Palmer-Brown, Sporting Kansas City*
18. Justen Glad, Real Salt Lake*
19. Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, Montreal Impact*^
20. Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas*
21. Luciano Acosta, D.C. United^
22. Jefferson Savarino, Real Salt Lake^
23. Kekuta Manneh, Columbus Crew SC
24. Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution*
^Player making his first appearance on the list
Goalkeepers (1): Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas)
Defenders (3): Ronald Matarrita (New York City FC), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake)
Midfielders (14): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Luciano Acosta (D.C. United), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Yamil Asad (Atlanta United), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution), Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas), Jack Harrison (New York City FC), Yangel Herrera (New York City FC), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Albert Rusnák (Real Salt Lake), Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla (Montreal Impact)
Forwards (6): Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo), Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC), Kekuta Manneh (Columbus Crew SC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake), Héctor Villalba (Atlanta United)
Atlanta United (3)
FC Dallas (3)
New York City FC (3)
Real Salt Lake (3)
D.C. United (2)
Seattle Sounders FC (2)
Columbus Crew SC (1)
Houston Dynamo (1)
Montreal Impact (1)
Orlando City SC (1)
New England Revolution (1)
New York Red Bulls (1)
Sporting Kansas City (1)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1)