Atlanta's Julian Gressel beats out Abu Danladi for MLS rookie of the year
Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel was named Major League Soccer's 2017 Rookie of the Year on Wednesday.
Gressel, 23, was the runaway winner of the award, collecting over 50 percent of the total vote to beat out Minnesota United's Abu Danladi and the Philadelphia Union's Jack Elliott, who finished second and third, respectively.
MLS team technical staffs, members of the media and current MLS players voted for the award.
"It's a great honor, not just for me but for the whole club," said Gressel. "It's been a tremendous year for me personally and now you add a trophy to it, it's kind of a cool thing...to be recognized by everybody in the league.
"[Atlanta] felt like home right from the start. And I'm kind of a guy that needs to have family around him. And obviously you have older guys that kind of show you the ropes a little and help you improve along the way and get better on a daily basis."
Gressel was the the eighth pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft after attending Providence College, where he scored 30 goals in 83 appearances for the Friars. He scored five goals for Atlanta and added nine assists, third-most in league history for a rookie after Andy Williams' 12 for Columbus in 1998 and the 10 Clint Mathis registered for the LA Galaxy in the same year.
Atlanta's debut season in the league was an overwhelming success as Tata Martino's team rode its high-powered attack -- led by Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez -- to the postseason. However, Atlanta was upset in the knockout round by the Columbus Crew.
"We're excited about the future, you know it's been a great first year," Gressel said. "It's been a lot of fun so far, especially the fan base. I mean they are incredible and I think it will only get better.
"We have a solid core [of players] now and I think we'll be exciting to watch again next year and hopefully can make a little longer and harder push for MLS Cup."
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