Thursday, August 30, 2018

Handicapper's Guide: Comeback Player of the year

We're getting down to the nit-tay grit-tay of the MLS season, which is really kinda like the "nominations" phase of all the awards races. If you ain't in it by now, you ain't in it.

Most of the prizes I'll give thoughts on as this mini-series progresses will cover wide open races still to be decided. That is not the case with the show opener, the Comeback Player of the Year award. Not only did this one seem decided weeks ago, but I actually called it in the preseason.

The leader: It's very much a one-horse race in my view. Gyasi Zardes has rallied from the indignity of being shoveled to right back to bag 15 goals in 26 games for new employers Columbus. That's what happens when you land with the #9 whisper, Gregg Berhalter. He's very much a system player, but we now all know that every boss that pushed Zardes out to the flank was wrong.

Finalist contenders: I also tabbed Sebastian Lletget as a top three candidate in my preseason predictions. He's been decent coming back from a season that saw him miss all but three games due to injury, but the Galaxy need more end product from his slot.

Keegan Rosenberry's rebound has not been from injury, but from his poor 2017 form. He's not just back, he's actually improved on his fine rookie season. This is the progress Philly expected, but didn't get last year. At this point, he's looking like a somewhat distant runner-up here.

Columbus defender Gaston Sauro has only played four league games on the term, but hey, this category offers props when you get back on the field to good effect after two years lost to knee woes.

Tomorrow: Rookie of the Year

- Greg Seltzer

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