With NASL action soon to get underway in 2016, here's a look at potential Young Player of the Year award winners
Matthew Levine (@NASLInsider} | Mar 29, 2016

With the season rapidly approaching, will be picking preseason candidates to win the individual postseason awards - Golden Boot, Golden Glove, Golden Ball, and Young Player of the Year.

In 2015, Leo Fernandes, who was on loan with the New York Cosmos, took home the Young Player of the Year award, which is given to the top performer aged 23 years old or younger. Fernandes scored eight times to go with three assists to earn the award. For the upcoming year, a new player will rise to claim the honor and the list of candidates is a strong one. Here is a rundown of which players could be the most impactful young player in 2016:

Charles Eloundou, Jacksonville Armada FC – A Cameroonian international, Charles Eloundou has had a fast start in Jacksonville. He scored four times in preseason and has been electric off the bench for the Armada FC. If he can continue that run of form into the Spring Season and beyond, Eloundou, 21, will give Jacksonville plenty of excitement and garner plenty of attention for the league’s most promising youngster.

Darwin Espinal, Tampa Bay Rowdies – After a year that warranted his place in the running a year ago, Darwin Espinal returns to Tampa Bay for 2016. Espinal, 21, scored four times in his debut season and will aim to carve out playing time in a stacked Rowdies midfield. The Honduran youth international has plenty of potential and should be able to avoid any sophomore slump.

Allan Zebie, FC Edmonton – With a factory line of talent coming out of the FC Edmonton Academy, Allan Zebie, 22, had a strong first season in the NASL. Slotting into the Eddies’ back line, Zebie appeared in 21 league matches. He will have more competition for his place this season, but the French-born Canadian defender is certainly an exciting prospect in Edmonton.

Duke Lacroix, Indy Eleven – With a full preseason behind him in Indy, Duke Lacroix will want to push on from last year when he scored two goals. Flanked with plenty of veteran players added to Indy, Lacroix, 22, should have a key learning experience and be a strong option either from the start of matches or as a substitute. A key to watch is Lacroix’s ability to get in behind defenders with his speed, which could certainly be beneficial to the Eleven attack as back lines tire.  

Honorable Mentions

Brian Sylvestre, Carolina RailHawks – The shot-stopper would have been higher up in the preseason shortlist, but potentially behind Akira Fitzgerald in the pecking order, Sylvestre may have the toughest road to break into a starting lineup. But if he gets inserted into the team, he should undoubtedly show the ability he did on loan a year ago with MLS’s Philadelphia Union and be considered one of the best young ‘keepers in the NASL.

Jackie Marrero, Puerto Rico FC – A Puerto Rican international, Jackie Marrero, 22, will have the Fall Season to show his ability. The attacker was recently playing in Finland, but has experience in the NASL, playing a handful of times with the Puerto Rico Islanders in 2012. Reuniting with the club’s coach, Adrian Whitbread, Marrero will look to continue to grow as a player.

Luis Felipe Fernandes, Fort Lauderdale Strikers – Growing up in Brazil and with Cruzeiro’s youth academy, the New York-born Luis Felipe Fernandes will look to carve out a place in the Strikers’ competitive midfield. The U.S. U-20 international has shown plenty of talent in the early stages of his career and with veterans such as Kleberson and Adrianinho, among others, to learn from, it should push the 20-year-old to the next step in his career.

Our Terms and Conditions of Use have changed. By using this Site, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Use. Agree and Dismiss
Our Privacy Policy has changed. By using this Site, you agree to the Privacy Policy. Agree and Dismiss