The countdown of the 24 Under 24 – the top 24 players under the age of 24 -- continues with players ranked No. 16 through No. 20. The list goes international today with two Canadians, a Brazilian, a Cameroonian and just one American.
Real Salt Lake’s Will Johnson (No. 20) and the Galaxy’s Juninho (No. 19) are two of the most experienced players on the entire list, both having played overseas in the Dutch and Brazilian leagues respectively.
Part of the reason DC United has struggled in 2010 is that Chris Pontius (No. 18) has been hampered by injury this year, preventing him from matching last year’s production.
Teal Bunbury (No. 17) and Tony Tchani (No. 16) will both factor in this season’s race for the Rookie of the Year award. The KC forward is looking to regain his place in the starting lineup to add to his four goals in his debut season, while the Cameroonian Tchani has looked confident alongside Mexican DP Rafa Márquez.
Check back on Thursday for players ranked No. 11-15.
What is the 24 Under 24? Simply, the best 24 players in MLS under the age of 24 (as of Nov. 1, 2010).
MLSsoccer.com whittled down the list to a group of 30 players and then an expert panel ranked the names based on five categories: (1) Skill; (2) Upside; (3) Q-Rating or Marketability; (4) Future Value; and (5) Intangibles.
The “24 Under 24” expert panel was made up of six members: Jeff Carlisle (ESPN.com), Steve Davis (SI.com), Brian Dunseth (Fox Soccer Channel), Allen Hopkins (ESPN), Alexi Lalas (ESPN) and the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff.
Facts & Figures
Teal Bunbury, son of former KC Wizards Alex Bunbury, is one of two players to hail from the University of Akron on the 24 Under 24 list.
RSL’s Will Johnson has the most senior international caps (13) of any player featured on the 24 Under 24.
Johnson is also the only 24 Under 24 member to win an MLS Cup ring.
Brazilian Juninho is one of three South Americans on the 24 Under 24.
Tony Tchani has played in more MLS matches than any of the Top 10 picks of the 2010 SuperDraft.
MLS Technical Directors Say: "Tchani is still very raw ... One of the best players in college last year. An amazing athlete. Huge, massive upside. Almost unlimited potential but he is not very polished which is normal for a kid at that age."
MLS Technical Directors Say: "He’s got the size, the physicality. Technically he’s better than some in terms of technical abilities and he’s got some more size. And he’s probably got some more pace than most guys ... It needs to be consistency with him around the goal area. He’s got the tools physically and technically he’s above average."
MLS Technical Directors Say: "In our league he’s got to be a forward ... As a wide player he might be able to be effective because he’s a hard worker. You want him in and around the goal to profit from that athleticism and ability in the air. For a young player, he’s a decent finisher which is relatively rare. He’s a prototypical college player in that he’s a tremendous overall athlete and he works really hard."
19.Vitor Junior "Juninho"M
The Brazilian is a vital cog for the Galaxy, pulling the strings in central midfield and jumpstarting their deadly counter. He reads the game well and has a knack of being in the right place at the right time. He’s not the strongest and most imposing of central players but his presence is felt as LA can attest during his recent absence.
MLS Technical Directors Say: "A fantastic player, he’s got a great engine. Technically very good. He’s a fantastic two-way player, one of the best in the league even though he’s a young player from an age standpoint ... He needs to be a little bit more productive on the attacking side of the ball: assists and goals ... You’re looking for an 8-and-8 guy. His production needs to be better."
MLS Technical Directors Say: “Has very good concentration, he’s brave and he has elite athleticism … He can get forward with that athleticism but he needs to refine his game in the attacking third in his one-v-one play and his combination play … he needs a little more consistency on his final pass.”
MLS Technical Directors Say: “Like his mentality. He’s always busy, always in motion … His size is a factor but he makes up for it with this work rate and his ability in the air … His finishing is very good … He needs to manage his own expectations and he’ll find his way in MLS.”
The young Colombian wowed fans with his ball skills early on, but he has since lost his place in the Union starting lineup and has become an occasional sub. He possesses superior vision and technique but there are doubts whether his speed and physique can meet the demands of MLS.
A full 2010 season may have bumped up McCarty’s place in the rankings. After a promising start in central midfield alongside Daniel Hernandez, he fell to a quad injury and now has an uphill battle just to regain his spot in the FCD starting lineup.