Union’s Jack Elliott an MLS Rookie of the Year Finalist

Union centerback Jack Elliott earned some well-deserved recognition on Tuesday for his strong debut season, as he was named a finalist for Major League Soccer’s Rookie of the Year award.

Elliott surprisingly became a stalwart of the team’s defense this year. He was drafted in the fourth round out of West Virginia, which is rare territory to find potential pros. Elliott was one of just two picks in this year’s fourth round who saw any playing time in MLS. None of last year’s fourth-round picks have broken through yet, and only four fourth-round picks from 2015 have done so.

The 22-year-old Englishman was quickly thrown into the fire, making his Union debut on April 1. He ended up playing in 30 of the Union’s 34 league games, making 29 starts, and played every minute in all but three of the starts. He also started and played every minute of the team’s two U.S. Open Cup games. His disciplinary record was sterling: just four yellow cards and one red card.

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Jack Elliott Nominated for Rookie of the Year

The league’s worst kept secret is now official.

Jack Elliott is one of 17 players nominated for AT&T Rookie of the Year, and he holds one of the best, if not the best, case out of the bunch.

Selected in the fourth round at 77th overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Elliott was not expected to be a repeat contributor for the team. Players picked that late in the draft are usually projects who spend time developing their game before becoming everyday players. And that’s how Elliott’s season looked at the beginning.

Elliott played a match for Bethlehem Steel FC, where he notched an assist in his first professional assist. He then spent two games in the game day 18 for the Union, before being thrusted into his MLS debut at halftime in the Union’s fourth game of the season, after Richie Marquez was forced to leave the match.

He performed well, but was out of the starting lineup the next match. Against New York City FC, Elliott earned his first start of his career. He hasn’t left the starting XI since.

Since his start, the Union rolled off the longest winning streak in team history, a six-game and four-game unbeaten streak, the team’s longest shutout streak, and set the record for most home wins in a season. He’s been a part of a backline which has allowed the second fewest road goals in team history, and helped Andre Blake record his lowest goals against average in his career.

In terms of individual production, Elliott is near the top of nearly every Union defensive stat, and is one of the best of all MLS defenders in blocks and clearances. He also has been a workhorse on the field, logging the third-most minutes played on the Union.

Jack Elliott’s play has certainly placed him in the running for Rookie of the Year, and now it’s official. Now it’s time for him to become the first defender since Austin Berry in 2012 to win the award.

To see the full list of nominees for Rookie of the Year, click here.

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Jack Elliott worthy of Rookie of Year consideration, Curtin says

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Philadelphia Union have never had a Rookie of the Year winner, though Jim Curtin thinks that could change very soon.

Philly’s coach declared as such after his side’s 3-0 loss at the New England Revolution last Saturday, one where first-year center back Jack Elliott was a bright spot on an otherwise dreary night.

“For me, I think he’s been the Rookie of the Year,” Curtin said of Elliott. “He’s played at that level and I thought he was excellent again tonight.”

When asked about his coach’s remarks, the 6-foot-5 Elliott responded true to character: Humble, soft spoken and driven.

“It’s nice to hear that kind of praise from the coach,” Elliott said. “It doesn’t really change anything; I’ve still got to perform every week. Nothing is decided. To be of that caliber you have to perform all the way through the season. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Still, it’s hard not to reflect upon how the 21-year-old is of a different mold and backstory than Cyle Larin and Jordan Morris, MLS’s last two Rookie of the Year winners. The former is a star for Orlando City SC, while the latter just scored the game-winning goal in the Gold Cup final for the US national team.

Elliott, meanwhile, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft after playing at West Virginia University. He was, at best, a long shot for even making the roster, but now he’s started 17 consecutive games in the heart of the Union’s defense.

It’s a trajectory that few expected, and Elliott himself was quick to shy away from praise when asked about the key to his success.

“Just going through the same routine every week,” Elliott said. “Eating healthy, sleeping, all that kind of stuff that helps you perform. Then obviously going out every day and competing against our boys in training and at the weekend against other teams.”

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Philly Voice: Union’s Jack Elliott quietly playing himself into Rookie of the Year conversation

When Montreal and Real Salt Lake passed in the third round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, the Union kept looking for that late-round gem.

They found it with the 77th overall pick, a 6’5″ center back and defensive midfielder from West Virginia University that no one had really heard of.

Jack Elliott was the last of the five Union draft picks to sign a professional contract, but he inked his deal with the senior team and not Bethlehem Steel, where we all thought the 21-year-old London native might start his professional career.

That wasn’t the case, and Elliott quickly found himself higher up the depth chart than anyone had imagined, jumping Ken Tribbett as fourth in line with Oguchi Onyewu already stepping in for the injured Josh Yaro.

If a starter went down, Elliott was the next man up, and that’s exactly what happened on April 1st when Richie Marquez came out at halftime in the 2-1 loss at D.C. United.

Elliott went back to the bench for one game only, then got a chance to start on April 14th and hasn’t relinquished his position since, playing 13 straight games since claiming the RCB job.

The Union now have six wins, four losses, and three draws in Elliott’s 13 starts, conceding 12 goals and scoring 20 for a +8 goal differential. He’s contributed to six clean sheets and hasn’t been carded in nine straight games, forming an unlikely but incredibly successful partnership with a 35-year-old veteran.

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