September 16, 2017 Atlanta - Atlanta United defender Julian Gressel (24) scores past Orlando City SC goalkeeper Joseph Bendik (1) in the first half of an MLS soccer match at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, September 16, 2017. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Who will win MLS Rookie of the Year?

MLS will announce its Rookie of the Year on Wednesday.

The three finalists are:

  • Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel;
  • Philadelphia’s Jack Elliott;
  • Minnesota United’s Abu Danladi.

This really shouldn’t be a contest because:

Gressel, 23, scored five goals and had nine assists in 32 appearances, which included 24 starts. The eighth pick in the Super Draft was used by Gerardo Martino in at least six different positions this season, and typically put in a solid performance no matter where he was played. He was part of a team that scored the second-most goals in MLS and was on the first expansion team since Seattle in 2009 to make the playoffs.

Elliott, 22, put in 30 appearances, including 29 starts, for Philadelphia. The defender scored one goal and had one assist, but that’s not why he is a finalist. He became a steady contributor for the Union. He played the third-most minutes of any player on the team. Philadelphia didn’t make the playoffs and allowed 47 goals, despite having one of the league’s best goalkeepers.

Danladi, 22, was the top pick in the draft. He scored eight goals and had three assists in 27 appearances. Danladi started slowly for expansion Minnesota United. He didn’t start for the first nine games, but scored as soon as he made his first start. He came on strong near the end of the season with five goals in the final 10 games. But the Loons didn’t come close to making the playoffs. 

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