Selected number eight overall by Atlanta United back in January in the the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, 23-year-old Julian Gressel has proven himself one of the league's top off-season acquisitions this season. With five goals and nine assists in 30 appearances for the expansion side, the German's productivity and crucial role in Atlanta's early success has officially earned him a spot on the MLS Rookie of the Year ballot released today by the league.
Competing collegiately in the NCAA just a year ago, his quick adaptation and consistent performance in the professional game has turned the heads of many. But perhaps no one has been more impressed than head coach Tata Martino, who's called upon the rookie all season to step up when the team needs him the most. Among his many attributes – including technical ability, tactical awareness, fearless physicality and defensive discipline – Gressel's versatility has proven invaluable for an Atlanta side journeying through its first-ever MLS season. Whether it's injuries, international responsibilities or tactical adjustments, the expansion side has used Gressel all over the field. Most recently, he stepped up for the injured Miguel Almirón in the central midfield attacking role, helping the team earn a few key results in September and officially clinch a spot in the playoffs.
With his successful first season, there's no surprise to see the kid who the fans have dubbed "Gresselmania" on the MLS Rookie of the Year ballot. The award is voted on by players, coaches and select media members and will be announced in December.
See the full list of 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year candidates here.