Atlanta United's Gressel wins MLS Rookie of the Year

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Adam Hagy/USA Today
The German youngster has edged Abu Danladi and Jack Elliott for the prize after serving as an underrated spark plug in Atlanta's attack

Julian Gressel has been named the 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year, the league announced Wednesday.

The eighth overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft out of Providence, the German-born Gressel joined an expansion Atlanta United side that had exciting attacking foreign talents from abroad and well-regarded American youngsters in its ranks. But the 23-year-old went on to make 32 appearances and 24 starts for Gerardo "Tata" Martino’s side, becoming an important and versatile piece in the midfield.

He scored five goals and added nine assists in that impressive debut campaign for both himself and Atlanta, which finished fourth in the Eastern Conference and became the first expansion side since the Seattle Sounders in 2009 to make the playoffs.

Gressel claimed 54 percent of the vote, dominating among all three blocs: players, club technical staffs and media. Minnesota United forward Abu Danladi finished a distant second with 16 percent, while Philadelphia Union defender Jack Elliott came in third with 8 percent.

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After a slow start to life in MLS, UCLA product Danladi came on strong to close out 2017, scoring six of his eight goals from July 29 on. He also added three assists.

The English-born Elliott played in 30 games for the Union in 2017, establishing himself as an important figure for the Union along the back line.

San Jose Earthquakes defender Nick Lima, D.C. United midfielder Ian Harkes and Vancouver Whitecaps right back Jake Nerwinski finished fourth, fifth and six in the voting, respectively.

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