View from Couch: MLS Rookie of the Year race not as wide open as you think

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.

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