Philadelphia Union's Chris Pontius wins MLS Comeback Player of the Year

When Chris Pontius arrived in Philadelphia this past winter, he insisted a fresh start would do him wonders after feeling like a dark cloud had been hanging over him during his injury-filled tenure with D.C. United.

His words turned out to be prophetic.

The 29-year-old winger not only managed to stay healthy all season but also became the focal point of Philly’s attack, matching a career high with 12 goals and leading the Union into the playoffs for the first time in five years.

And on Wednesday, Pontius was rewarded for those efforts by being named the 2016 MLS Comeback Player of the Year — an annual award that honors a player who has overcome injuries and/or adversity to achieve success during the regular season.

Pontius certainly dealt with his fair share of adversity during his first seven years in MLS, all spent with DC United. After a breakout year in 2012 in which he scored 12 goals and earned MLS All-Star and MLS Best XI honors, Pontius only logged a total of six goals and four assists between 2013 and 2015 as he dealt with several injuries.

But getting traded to Philly last December turned out to be the perfect cure. On top of his 12 goals, which tied for the most among American-born players this year, he also added a career-high six assists, tied for second best on the Union, while starting 32 games on the left wing.

The award was voted on by MLS club management, media, and current MLS players. Below is a breakdown of the voting results.

Comeback Player of the Year
Player Vote %
Media Vote %
Club Vote %
Average %
Chris Pontius (PHI)
Frank Lampard (NYC)
Kevin Molino (ORL)

All-Time MLS Comeback Player of the Year Winners

  • 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 – Los Angeles 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