While the Premier Development League Top Prospects list and Top College Prospects highlight those players nearing the jump to the professional level, many young athletes compete in the PDL in the early stages of their careers, seeking to establish themselves as top up-and-coming talents.
The PDL Top Under-20 Players lists will highlight those players at each position who have shown themselves to be among the league’s rising stars. Over four days, the top goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards under the age of 20 (as of July 15, 2018) will be honored.
The deepest position in our Top U20 Players series, the midfield class boasts numerous players who led their team to the PDL Playoffs - including several who became key components of their teams’ attacks and defenses.
Of the 26 midfielders named to the list, 16 appeared in 10 or more matches for their clubs this season and seven guided their teams to the playoffs. Leading the list is the winner of the PDL Young Player of the Year award, Chicago FC United midfielder Luka Prpa, who recorded two goals and one assist in 949 minutes across 12 matches. His play helped Chicago claim the Central Conference Championship before eventually falling in the PDL National Semifinals to eventual champions Calgary Foothills FC.
A pair of midfielders from the New York Red Bulls U23 also appear on the list after guiding their club to the Eastern Conference Championship match. Omir Fernandez appeared in only four matches for the club this season, but made a massive impact with five goals and three assists in that span. He’s joined by Allen Gavilanes, who recorded one goal and two assists in 12 matches (705 minutes) for the Red Bulls U23.
Two more young midfielders also guided their clubs to the playoffs. One of the league’s youngest players - born in May 2001 - Marcelo Palomino appeared in four matches for Brazos Valley Cavalry F.C. in the team’s Mid South Division-winning season, with the U.S. U18 Men’s National Team player recording four goals and one assist in that span. Also performing well was FC Tucson midfielder Adrian Valenzuela, who helped his team to the Western Conference wildcard and Championship game while recording two goals and three assists in nine matches (682 minutes).
Here’s a look at 26 young midfielders who impressed in the 2018 PDL season.
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Check back tomorrow for the next installment, where we examine the top young forwards from the 2018 PDL season.