On the other end of the pitch, both literal and proverbial, we have Philadelphia Union rookie Jack Elliott, an Englishman who played four years at West Virginia before Philly tabbed him – at No. 77 overall – in this year’s SuperDraft. Elliott surprisingly snagged a spot in central defense early in the season, and refused to relinquish the post, playing a rookie-high 2,082 minutes in 24 matches (23 starts).
As coach Jim Curtin put it after a recent contest: “He’s been one of our best players this year. He is, for me again, the Rookie of the Year. He’s been great … whether it’s been on the right side or the left side of center back. He’s been a real rock back there for us and has been a leader.”
“For a young guy who was drafted 77th overall, he’s really achieving some things right now. He’s playing well in every game, and a guy that we really trust.”
Stelly calls Elliott “steady” while Goncalves opts for “heir to the throne” of rookie backline breakouts (following Keegan Rosenberry; wherefore art thou?). Doyle points to a solid performance for a “mostly solid” Union defense, and Opta’s on/off statistics – with their usual small-sample-size caveat – show the Union 0-2-2 in the four games Elliott’s been out, with 7 goals allowed (1.8/game) vs. 32 (1.3/game) in the other 24.