As far as meaningless awards go, the MLS “22-under-22” list is a ways up there. I suppose it’s good for some bragging rights, but it comes with no financial award and doesn’t seem to be particularly important to league talent evaluators. It does, however, tend to generate some good conversations and debate, which is worth something.
In that sense, it’s probably worth talking about the only Seattle Sounders player who could reasonably claim to have been snubbed: left back Nouhou.
As it turns out, he didn’t finish that far outside the top 22, clocking in at No. 28.
Here's who barely missed #22U22...— Andrew Wiebe (@andrew_wiebe) October 4, 2018
23. Busio, Gianluca
24. Saucedo, Sebastián
25. Lewis, Jonathan
26. Acosta, Danilo
27. Colman, Josué
28. Tolo, Nouhou
29. Bello, George
30. Paredes, Cristhian https://t.co/AgB8vsTCWT
The group of players around Nouhou are all solid in their own right, and I can’t tell you with a straight face that I know enough about the players toward the bottom of the official list to say Nouhou is definitely superior to any.
What I will say is that regardless of Nouhou’s place on this list, he strikes me as someone with a promising future. At 21, he’s already made 29 first-team starts and has established himself as a shutdown 1-v-1 defender. Sure, he has his faults — he’s not a great off-ball defender and his crossing seems to have regressed a bit — but I still find myself highly entertained whenever I watch him play. I also suspect there’s a pretty good chance the Sounders can fetch a seven-figure transfer fee for him, assuming he can start making better decisions in the attacking third.