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Sporting Kansas City Forward Alan Pulido Named MLS Comeback Player of the Year

November 15, 2023 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release


NEW YORK - Major League Soccer today announced that Sporting Kansas City forward Alan Pulido has been named the 2023 MLS Comeback Player of the Year. After overcoming a significant knee injury that sidelined him the entire 2022 season, the Mexican forward produced an MLS career-best and club-high 14 goals in 2023 to go along with three assists for a Kansas City side that returned to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Join Pulido's press conference today at 11:30 a.m. CT here On January 11, 2022, Sporting Kansas City announced that Pulido would miss the entire 2022 MLS season due to a knee injury. Nearly 14 months following the announcement, Pulido returned to MLS action on April 1, 2023, when he came off the bench in Sporting's scoreless draw with the Philadelphia Union. Pulido scored his first MLS goal since the injury on May 7 with a first-half game-winning score against Seattle Sounders FC.

The Mexican forward found his goal-scoring form during the month of June with a league-high six goals in five matches, which earned him MLS Player of the Month presented by CELSIUS honors. From the start of June to the end of the regular season, Pulido's 13 goals were the second-most in the league, trailing only the Columbus Crew's Cucho Hernández (15). Additionally, Pulido excelled at scoring in bunches during the 2023 season. His four multi-goal games were the second-most in MLS and he became just the third Kansas City player (Dom Dwyer and Felipe Gutiérrez) with at least four multi-goal games in a season in club history.

His high-scoring season also included hitting the back of the net in a variety of ways. Among double-digit goal scorers in 2023, Pulido and Hernández were the lone players with multiple headed goals and multiple penalty-kick goals. Not only was Pulido diverse in his goal-scoring, but he was also extremely efficient. Among players with at least 50 shot attempts in 2023, Pulido scored on 25.9% of those (14-of-54), which was the best mark in MLS.

Thanks to Pulido's remarkable comeback, Sporting Kansas City completed one of the most improbable turnarounds to make the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. Kansas City became the first club in MLS history to go winless through their first 10 matches of a season (0-7-3) and still make the postseason. Prior to this, only three clubs had a 10-match winless streak at any point in a season and still secured a playoff berth. From the start of May to the end of the 2023 regular season, Sporting led the Western Conference in points (41), wins (12), and goals per game (1.88), while ranking second in goal differential (+10).

The MLS Comeback Player of the Year honors an MLS player who has overcome a severe injury and/or adversity, and as a result missed a significant portion of the 2022 season and shown improved performance to achieve success during the 2023 regular season. The award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media, and current MLS players.

Below is a breakdown of the voting results, with Pulido beating Atlanta United's Miles Robinson and Seattle Sounders FC's João Paulo.

2023 MLS Comeback Player of the Year

Player Vote Media Vote Club Vote Average Vote

Alan Pulido (SKC) 22.01% 52.02% 28.21% 34.08%

Miles Robinson (ATL) 27.04% 10.98% 38.46% 25.50%

João Paulo (SEA) 8.18% 6.36% 12.82% 9.12%

A full list of previous MLS Comeback Player of the Year award winners can be found below:

MLS Comeback Player of the Year Winners

Season Player Club

2023 Alan Pulido Sporting Kansas City

2022 Gonzalo Higuaín Inter Miami CF

2021 Carles Gil New England Revolution

2020 Bradley Wright-Phillips Los Angeles Football Club

2019 Jordan Morris Seattle Sounders FC

2018 Gyasi Zardes Columbus Crew

2017 Clint Dempsey Seattle Sounders FC

2016 Chris Pontius Philadelphia Union

2015 Tim Melia Sporting Kansas City

2014 Rodney Wallace Portland Timbers

2013 Kevin Alston New England Revolution

2012 Eddie Johnson Seattle Sounders FC

2011 David Beckham LA Galaxy

2010 Bobby Convey San Jose Earthquakes

2009 Zach Thornton Chivas USA

2008 Kenny Cooper FC Dallas

2007 Eddie Johnson Kansas City Wizards

2006 Richard Mulrooney FC Dallas

2005 Chris Klein Kansas City Wizards

2004 Brian Ching San Jose Earthquakes

2003 Chris Armas Chicago Fire

2002 Chris Klein Kansas City Wizards

2001 Troy Dayak San Jose Earthquakes

2000 Tony Meola Kansas City Wizards


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