ATLANTA — Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel has been named the 2017 AT&T Rookie of the Year, Major League Soccer announced today. Selected No. 8 overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Gressel registered the third most assists (9) in MLS history by a rookie.
An immediate contributor for Atlanta United, Gressel, 23, appeared in 32 matches with 24 starts. In addition to his nine assists, Gressel also scored five goals and was deployed in a variety of positions in head coach Tata Martino’s system. He started each of Atlanta’s first six matches and solidified himself in one of the most prolific attacks in league history, helping Atlanta become just the sixth team to score 70 goals. His contributions were crucial for the club becoming just the second MLS expansion team to make the postseason since 1998, as the first-year franchise finished its inaugural campaign ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference (55 points, 15-9-10 record). In all competitions, Gressel appeared in 35 of Atlanta’s 37 matches, including playing all 120 minutes in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Only Andy Williams (1998, 12 assists) and Clint Mathis (1998, 10 assists) registered more assists as a rookie in MLS history.
Gressel played four years at Providence College where he scored 30 goals and had 26 assists. In MLS, the German-born midfielder notched his first assist in a 6-1 victory over Minnesota United FC on March 12 at TCF Bank Stadium, and he scored his first professional goal on May 14 against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park to help Atlanta pick-up a road point. Gressel’s pivotal first goal also sparked his impressive run of two goals and three assists over a four-game span.
Orlando City SC originally held the rights to the No. 8 selection in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Atlanta United acquired those rights on Dec. 13, 2016 in exchange for Donny Toia, who Atlanta had selected earlier that day in the 2016 MLS Expansion Draft.