NEW YORK, NY (Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016) – Major League Soccer announced today that Philadelphia Union midfielder Chris Pontius has been named the 2016 MLS Comeback Player of the Year. The annual award honors a player who has overcome injuries and/or adversity in order to achieve success during the regular season.
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft out of UC Santa Barbara, Pontius spent his first seven seasons in the league with D.C. United. After a breakout year in 2012 that saw him notch 12 goals while earning All-Star and MLS Best XI selections, Pontius’ career was put on hold after suffering a slew of injuries that limited his playing time significantly. Prior to the 2016 season, Pontius had only recorded a total of six goals and four assists in the previous three seasons combined (2013-2015).
Traded to the Union in December 2015, Pontius experienced a tremendous comeback season in 2016 with a team-leading 12 goals, matching his career best set in 2012, and ranking tied for the most goals among any American-born player in MLS this year. The 29-year-old added a career-high six assists, tied for second best on the Union, and went on to start in 32 of his 33 regular appearances.
Leading the club in combined goals and assists, Pontius helped the Union to its second ever postseason appearance and first since 2011. With eight second half goals in 2016, Pontius proved to be a vital difference maker, with the team registering a 5-4-5 record in games where he recorded a goal or an assist.