With the season in its home stretch, here is a look at potential Young Player of the Year winners
Matthew Levine (@NASLInsider} | Sep 14, 2015

Minnesota United FC’s Christian Ramirez claimed last year’s Young Player of the Year award, among several other honors, but the forward won’t be able to repeat as the winner this year having turned 24 prior to the season.

Even with Ramirez out of the running, the 2015 version of the award is sure to go to an outstanding player, as many youngsters have filled key roles for NASL clubs this year. Here is a look at a few of the candidates for Young Player of the Year:

Leo Fernandes (New York Cosmos) – The Brazilian-born attacker, who grew up on Long Island, has had a stellar campaign for the Cosmos. Playing as an outside midfielder, Fernandes, 23, has contributed seven goals as well as three assists this year, showing a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Darwin Espinal (Tampa Bay Rowdies) – After an incredible run at Darton State, where he scored 52 goals in two years, Espinal has fit right into the Rowdies’ attack. The 20-year-old forward has scored four times to go along with one assist and has looked a constant threat in the attacking third. His play also earned him a call-up to the Honduras U-23 National Team, with whom he will try to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Marlon Freitas (Fort Lauderdale Strikers) – The 20-year-old Brazilian midfielder has shown poise and maturity in the middle of the park for the Strikers. Freitas has also chipped in with four goals and three assists this season as Fort Lauderdale pushes for a postseason berth.

PC (Fort Lauderdale Strikers) – Much like his teammate, PC, 21, has had a strong campaign for the Strikers. Playing as an outside back in Brazil, PC has transitioned seamlessly into a more attack-minded role. The Brazilian youth international has scored four goals to go along with two assists so far this season.

Dylan Mares (Indy Eleven) – Despite being injured for a large portion of the Fall Season, the Indiana University product has made Indy’s midfield tick. The 23-year-old has found the back of the net a team-high three times this season and has chipped in with a team-high four assists. Mares recently returned to action after recovering from his injury, and could play a key role down the stretch for the Boys in Blue.

Outside Chance: Akeil Barrett (Jacksonville Armada FC) – Playing a more extensive role during the Fall Season, the Jamaican forward has looked electric at times. Barrett, 23, has plenty of speed to stretch defenses and has added his name to the scoresheet twice this season. He also contributed a game-winning assist in a Spring Season win over the San Antonio Scorpions. 

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