Grading young American players in MLS
It's been a slow process, but as its academies produce more young American prospects, MLS is gradually turning into the proving ground for America's future stars. Case in point: When New York visits Philadelphia this weekend to begin the final weekend of the regular season, as many as five players from the last American under-20 pool could see the field.
But how have those young players done this season? As would be expected, for most, it's been up and down. Here's a look at how some of the busiest young American players in the MLS rate for their season's work in 2011.
Perry Kitchen, D/MF, DC United
Tipped to make an immediate impact for DC when Ben Olsen drafted him out of Akron, Kitchen has done just that, starting every game he has been available for except one and racking up over 2,500 minutes in a solid rookie campaign. He has made his freshman errors as well, but the defender has shown a penchant for bouncing back to contribute to DC's success in a solid, if ultimately disappointing, season. The former U.S. U-17 captain has done it while shifting around the back line, and even chipping in at defensive midfield on occasion.