In other sports, Derrick Jones would be firmly in the early conversation for the Rookie of the Year race for his performance in his first three starts. In Major League Soccer as a second-year pro, he isn’t eligible for the award Keegan Rosenberry was beat out for last season.
Unlike Major League Baseball, which gives the award in each league to the player who hasn’t exceeded a minimum number of at-bats or innings pitched at the highest level, Major League Soccer only considers first-year pros for the award.
For the Philadelphia Union, that means draft picks like Jack Elliott, Marcus Epps and Aaron Jones are eligible, but not Derrick Jones or fellow homegrown Auston Trusty, who have both played professionally for Bethlehem Steel FC.
Adam Najem is also a first-year pro, but isn’t on this list for some reason (note: the list has rookies from Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew as playing for Atlanta United so take that for what it’s worth).
Without Derrick in the picture, it doesn’t appear that the Union will have a player in the conversation for the award this season, but a lot can change between now and the end of the season.
Three weeks into the season, Atlanta United draft pick Julian Gressel, San Jose Earthquakes homegrown Nick Lima, Columbus Crew homegrown Alex Crognale and D.C. United homegrown Ian Harkes would appear to have the inside track.
But rookies adjust to the next level at a different pace. Not everyone comes in and plays nearly every minute of the season like Rosenberry did last year (when he was beaten out by Seattle Sounders golden boy Jordan Morris), so it’s really too early to have an informed debate.
There is also a USL Rookie of the Year award, won by New York Red Bulls homegrown Brandon Allen last season, which a number of newcomers to the organization could be in line for: the aforementioned Union rookies along with USL rookies Santi Moar, Chris Nanco, Matthew Real, Matt Mahoney and Charlie Reymann.