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An MLS Best XI of emerging stars (under-24, that is)

Philadelphia Union v Toronto FC

TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 15: Eric Hassli #29 of Toronto FC battles with Amobi Okugo #14 of the Philadelphia Union during MLS action at the BMO Field September 15, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

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I’m not sure if this little exercise says what I think it says … but it’s worth talking about.

The young stars of Major League Soccer are shining quite brightly at the moment. Perhaps more than ever before, which makes me pretty optimistic about the collective league quality continuing to trend blissfully upward.

I think it says pretty good things about MLS going forward, and how domestic soccer in general is progressing in its sundry development initiatives.

Major League Soccer is in the middle of assembling its latest 24 Under 24 list. It’s an annual assessment of the league’s top talent under 24 years old. I am on the panel of voters.

To be honest, this was a tough exercise, selecting just 24 to spotlight (based on technical ability, tactical awareness, physical talent, personality and potential).

But I dug in, did my best and, well, you’ll have to wait until the smarties at MLS get all the totals totaled to peruse the big list.

Meanwhile, here is my best effort at an MLS Best 11 among the under-24 set. I look at the lineup below and think, “Well, I’d take this bunch into an MLS match against … pretty much anyone.”

(Yes, Andrew Farrell is a right back for New England, but I still have a feeling that center back is his best spot, even if the current personnel around Gillette Stadium necessitates that he plays along the outside.)

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24 under 24 Best 11