After Juninho's stellar performance over the summer, I knew he would be in the top ten for MLSsoccer.com's "24 Under 24" ranking. The Brazilian midfielder has scored plenty of wonder goals this season. He can attack. He can defend. He can pass. Often times, he doesn't get a lot of credit. However, in 2012, Juninho has been declared No. 6 in the 24 under 24 ranking.
Juninho is one of those players who can score from 35-yards-away. So far, he has netted five goals in the regular season. He scored a brace against Chivas USA on August 12. In addition he scored another brace in the CONCACAF Champions League game against Isidro Metapan. Overall, he has four goals in CCL which makes him "the Galaxy's all-time leading goal scorer in the tournament." The majority of the Brazilian's goals are scored from a distance in a rocket-like fashion. He has been nominated for two goal of the week awards in 2012.
This season, Juninho has partnered with both David Beckham and Marcelo Sarvas in the midfield. Juni is a team player and is willing to adapt to other player's styles. Associate head coach Dave Sarachan says Juninho is willing to do anything to help. It is this selfless attitude that makes him so effective.
For the past three seasons, Juninho has been on loan from São Paulo. The 23-year-old could very well return to the Brazilian club. Yet, he would be dearly missed. After all, the midfielder is improving with each passing year. In the 2010 regular season, he made two goals and had two assists. In 2011, he netted four and added another two assists. So far in 2012, he has made five goals and notched three assists. Juninho may not be a big name. However, people are starting to notice the Brazilian midfielder. In 2010, he ranked No. 19 in the "24 under 24" poll. In 2011, he moved up to No. 14. The big jump to No. 6 this year reveals that he is clearly having an impact on the Galaxy's success.
Juninho is quickly becoming one of the most valuable players on the Galaxy team. We are lucky to have him.
Click here for the complete 2012 "24 under 24" rankings.
Melissa Matters is a long time Los Angeles resident and devoted Los Angeles Galaxy fan.
More from Melissa:L.A. Galaxy's David Beckham Tops Teammate Juninho for Fourth MLS Goal of the Week Honor: Fan Reaction
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