The 24 Under 24 … or in other words, the best 24 players in MLS under the age of 24 (as of Nov. 1, 2010).
MLSsoccer.com whittled down the comprehensive 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.
The countdown to No. 1 begins today with the first four names on the list featuring a Colombian midfielder, an 18-year-old American forward, an All-Star right back and a five-year MLS veteran.
Despite falling out of the starting lineup on their respective clubs, FC Dallas veteran holding midfielder Dax McCarty (No. 24) and Philadelphia Union attacking mid Roger Torres (No. 23) just squeezed into the 24 Under 24 list in the bottom two places. McCarty has missed several weeks in 2010 due to a quad injury while the Colombian Torres was replaced in Philly’s starting XI.
Former US Under-17 forward Jack McInerney (No. 22) joins Torres as a Union representative on the list. The 18-year-old has already scored his first two MLS goals in his debut season, mainly seeing time off the bench.
McInerney’s two goals are two more than Revolution right back Kevin Alston (No. 21), who was an MLS All-Star and started against Manchester United in the 2010 MLS All-Star Game.
Check back on Wednesday for players ranked No. 16-20.
Facts & Figures
The Philadelphia Union is tied for most players on the 24 Under 24 list with three.
Dax McCarty has played in more MLS matches and more MLS seasons than any other player in the rankings.
Roger Torres and Kevin Alston are the only players in the Top 24 never to score an MLS goal.
Colombia is one of nine nations to be represented in the 24 under 24 list.
Jack McInerney is the second youngest player to be included in the final rankings.
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.