For players coming over from Europe, it can take some time to adjust to Major League Soccer. The game and life in the States are different; play is more physical than skilled, tactics are different to account for this, and long road trips of 3,000+ miles take a toll throughout the year. It's not uncommon for international signings to struggle during their first year in MLS, but that wasn't the case for Haris Medunjanin.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international led the Union with eight assists on the year from his central midfield position. The team's play ran through Haris throughout the year as his 2,474 touches in 2017 were nearly 1,000 more than the next highest on the team. Medunjanin's 1,635 successful passes and 45 chances created in open play paced the team by wide margins as well. The prolific passer also bucked any criticism of his defensive effort by leading field players with 247 recoveries.
Looking at more direct contributions, Medunjanin earned eight assists and netted two goals. He first opened the league's eyes with a strike from well outside the box against D.C. United, and followed it up with a curling free kick again outside the box to beat Tim Howard.
Medunjanin was twice called up by Bosnia and Herzegovina for World Cup Qualifiers, earning two starts against Belgium and Estonia. Playing as the #10 in central attacking midfield, Medunjanin scored in a wild game against Kevin De Bruyne's Belgium squad.
Possibly his most famous moment in 2017 came when D.C. United's Luciano Acosta was shown a red card for allegedly kick Haris after a play. The referee quickly rescinded the card, allowing Acosta to continue playing, and explained to the media following the match that Haris had spoken up and said he was not kicked.
"I went to the referee and he said, 'did he kick you?' and I said, 'no he didn’t kick me, I think it was just a push.' That’s why it was no red card for me," Haris explained after the match.
As the only player on the team to log over 3,000 minutes this season, Haris has shown an incredible work rate. Linking the defense to the attack with the most recoveries of any field player, Medunjanin also has an argument for strongest offensive contribution to the team this year by dominating passing, assist, and chances created categories. Haris has made a strong case for IBX Live Fearless Player of the Year all throughout 2017.