Columbus Crew SC had one representative on Major League Soccer’s 22 Under 22 list, which highlights the best young players in the league, as left back Milton Valenzuela ranked 12th in the table released by the league.
An expert panel consisting of four anonymous technical staffers, 10 members of the MLS Digital team and five soccer media members across North America submitted votes to determine the rankings, which were based on the following criteria: technical ability, tactical IQ, physical attributes and future potential.
The 20-year-old Argentinean fullback is playing his first season with the club after being signed on loan as a Young Designated Player from Newell’s Old Boys in January and has become a full-time starter under head coach Gregg Berhalter.
Not many are having a better year at left back than Valenzuela. #22U22 pic.twitter.com/jtWvtBD7je— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 3, 2018
Valenzuela has recorded 27 appearances in 2018 with 26 starts, recording one goal and five assists. He’s also tied for first in MLS for most successful crosses from open play amongst defenders and tied for fifth overall.
The young Argentinean has also proven to be a solid defensive addition as he leads the team in tackles per game (2.6) and ranks seventh in interceptions (1.3) and clearances (1.2).
Valenzuela is currently on loan with Crew SC and, according to the Columbus Dispatch, the team has an option to acquire his rights from Newell’s at the end of the season. The transfer price should be cheaper than the one the Black & Gold played to buy Brazilian midfielder Artur from São Paulo last December.
“I think those decisions will be made at a later date, but he’s certainly doing a good job,” Berhalter said earlier this season about the possibility of acquiring Valenzuela.
While nothing is set on Valenzuela’s future with the Black & Gold and MLS, there is a very good chance the left back remains with the club for the future, potentially blossoming into one of the top defenders in the league and moving on to bigger and better things.
In the meantime, Crew SC fans should enjoy the Valenzuela, one of the most talented young players in Major League Soccer.