Major League Soccer has constructed a new individual award which will begin with the 2020 season.
The newly constructed “Young Player of the Year” award will recognize the top player in the league, aged 22-years-old and under at the end of each season. In additional, the Young Player of the Year will replace the Rookie of the Year award, which had previously honored the top first-year professional player that was signed either through the MLS SuperDraft or as a Homegrown.
“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.”
The Young Player of the Year can have repeat winners so long as they meet the age requirement, unlike the Rookie of the Year award which could only be won once per player. Winners could have also entered the league as a Homegrown Player, an MLS SuperDraft selection, 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. 1st, 1998 is eligible, while players born on or before Dec. 31st, 1997 are ineligible. In 2021 and beyond, only players that meet the age threshold will be eligible.
The finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 11th at the conclusion of the MLS regular season.