The Jack Elliott hype train is here to stay, I’m just here to tell the story of the Philadelphia Union rookie phenom.
For the second year running the Philadelphia Union could have a defender garner serious consideration for rookie of the year. After Keegan Rosenberry finished second to Jordan Morris last season, another defender is stealing the show for the Union.
The difference is that this defender wasn’t a high draft pick or a homegrown defender with expectations. This defender was selected in the fourth round and needed to impress the coaching staff to even earn a spot in the matchday 18 for the Philadelphia Union. He didn’t start the season in the lineup but instead had to wait until Jim Curtin shook up the defense following bad results.
That defender is Jack Elliott and since he had earned his spot in the Philadelphia Union starting XI, he hasn’t looked back. Since Elliott took a starting role next to Oguchi Onyewu on April 15th against New York City FC, the defense has solidified while being the major catalyst behind the Philadelphia Union’s season turnaround.
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Looking into statistics, Elliott has started 13 games for the Philadelphia Union. In those games, the Union have allowed 12 goals and collected six clean sheets. That’s an average of .92 goals allowed per game. Kinda good right?
So let’s meet Elliott’s competition for Rookie of the Year:
Julian Gressel – Atlanta United
Gressel has been an important member of the Atlanta United attack being deployed in their midfield. His three goals and six assists collected are both good numbers and they are comparable to the 12 goals and four assists that Jordan Morris won the award with last year. While Gressel has been good, Elliott has been on another level, however. Gressel’s numbers are comparable with rookies around the league but Elliott’s stand out even comparing him to the league-wide pool of defenders.
Nick Lima – San Jose Earthquakes
Nick Lima hit the ground running for the Earthquakes as the outside back came into the league showing that he was a polished product. His issue is mainly with the ineffective Earthquakes defense. In 14 games started, the Quakes have allowed 18 goals while collecting four clean sheets. that’s an average of 1.29 goals allowed per game. Compared to Elliott, that’s a huge increase in goals allowed. If Lima had stronger offensive numbers, this could be looked past but with only one goal scored and one assist provided, that isn’t enough to take down Elliott.
Brooks Lennon – Real Salt Lake
Lennon’s inclusion is one for the second half of the season. At this point, he can’t stack up with the rest of the field but he missed significant time with the U-20 World Cup and is now starting to gel with his team. The 19-year-old has one goal and one assist right now but as the season goes on, those numbers could improve significantly.
Breaking it down, there isn’t anyone who has a clear case over Elliott for Rookie of the year, and that’s before including Elliott’s offensive contributions to the team. While Elliott has been a rock defensively blocking every shot that comes his way, his long balls have added a new dynamic to the Philadelphia Union attack. If I had to pick a winner for the award now, it would be Elliott.