Joao Plata is Real Salt Lake's only representative on MLS's annual 24 Under 24 list that was released yesterday, and there's a little bit of a surprise there.
Plata dropped to ninth place after being in seventh last year, which doesn't bother me too much. After all, he's spent a long time in the injury room after that fracture to start preseason, and it's taken him a little time to get back to things.
Luis Gil didn't make the list at all, which is a departure from previous years, where he never dropped below #14. But he's had a stop-start two years at RSL, and whatever you think of him, those sorts of things make it hard to climb the list.
Luis Gil in past 24 Under 24 rankings
- 2011: #11
- 2012: #14
- 2013: #2
- 2014: #8
Also not on the list after debuting in 2013 is Olmes Garcia, whose inclusion last year was somewhat a surprise as he struggled to really get going. The last few months have been a very different story, though, and he's looking like a valuable player off the bench and a reasonable starter.
The big absences, though?
Jordan Allen, Justen Glad, and Sebastian Saucedo. It's not that they should have made the list — 24 spots isn't many, especially as the league grows. But the fluid and hard-to-measure criteria (personality is one of the five categories on which they're judged, which seems a little strange) makes it difficult to argue much.
Still: Jordan Allen's been a fantastic addition to the team this year after joining in 2014 and being absent through injury. He's played several positions effectively, including right back, right wing, left wing, central midfield, and, briefly, attacking midfield. He's looked good in each one.
Glad has been a solid fifth-choice center back — more than you'd ever expect from someone down the depth charts like that — and has looked well beyond his age. His potential is sky-high.
Finally, Sebastian Saucedo fulfills the "incredibly promising young player" role that each year's list needs. He's finally starting to take control of matches with greater frequency, and that will certainly push him up the list in the coming years.
While the players on the list are all quite good, it's starting to look a bit like a group of people ranked some now-experienced professionals. When the list debuted in 2010, it looked a bit more like a developmental list, but with the rise of experienced young professionals in the league, the list lacks that element. Maybe it's time to move to 22 Under 22 — that might narrow down the list so that some sort of consensus can be formed.