Major League Soccer has created a new end of season award for the 2020 campaign with the introduction of the Young Player of the Year.
The award will recognize the top player in the league age 22 and under at the end of each season. The Young Player of the Year will replace the Rookie of the Year award, which had previously honored the top first-year pro that was signed either through the MLS SuperDraft or as a Homegrown Player.
“The AT&T Young Player of the Year award reflects the commitment of MLS to develop world class players by recognizing the elite young stars within our league.” MLS Executive Vice President, Player Relations and Competition Todd Durbin said.
“This honor will highlight the amazing talent developed in MLS academies, which year-after-year produce internationally coveted stars. With our clubs increasingly signing elite young international standouts and the continued quality of players in the MLS SuperDraft, there has never been more young talent to celebrate in our league.”
Unlike the Rookie of the Year award, in which players were eligible only in their first year of professional soccer, the Young Player of the Year can have repeat winners so long as they meet the age requirement. Winners could have entered the league as a Homegrown Player, an MLS SuperDraft pick, via the international transfer market, or through other domestic leagues.
For the inaugural 2020 season only, a total of 11 rookie players who do not meet the age requirement this year will also be eligible for the award to meet contractual obligations. Otherwise, for 2020, any player born on or after Jan. 1, 1998 is eligible, while players born on or before Dec. 31, 1997 are ineligible. In 2021 and beyond, only players that meet the age threshold will be eligible.
The MLS end of season awards will be determined through voting between Oct. 29-Nov. 9 from three groups: MLS players, MLS coaches and Technical Directors/General Managers, as well as select media members. The finalists will be announced on Nov. 11.
Additionally, MLS will recognize the top plays of the season with the MLS Goal of the Year and MLS Save of the Year presented, with voting for both awards set to run from Nov. 12-18 on MLSsoccer.com.