Major League Soccer on Wednesday announced the creation of the Young Player of the Year Award.
Starting with the current campaign, it will replace the Rookie of the Year award and will recognize the top player in the league age 22 or younger at the end of each season.
"(This) award reflects the commitment of MLS to develop world class players by recognizing the elite young stars within our league. This honor will highlight the amazing talent developed in MLS academies, which year-after-year produce internationally coveted stars," MLS executive vice president Todd Durbin said in a statement.
"With our clubs increasingly signing elite young international standouts and the continued quality of players in the MLS SuperDraft, there has never been more young talent to celebrate in our league."
Players born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, are eligible for this year's award.
Top candidates include Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi, who leads the league with 12 goals, and Philadelphia Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who earned the top spot in the MLS 22 Under 22 list released last week.
Rossi is 22, and Aaronson turned 20 last week.
Voting for the league's end-of-season awards will take place from Oct. 29-Nov. 9. Players, coaches and technical directors/general managers, plus select media members, will cast ballots, with the finalists announced Nov. 11.
--Field Level Media