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New England’s Kevin Alston: Finally, a truly worthy MLS comeback player of the Year

Dec 2, 2013, 6:50 PM EDT

Kevin Alston head shot

In all honesty, MLS Comeback Player of the Year has been something of an odd duck, and one where the choices don’t always make sense.

Eddie Johnson won in 2012, and I am still attempting to understand what exactly the man “came back” from? Yes, his career was on the brink of extinction, and I suppose that’s it. But don’t we usually think about players overcoming injury – not overcoming their own career decisions and inability to catch on overseas?

But that wasn’t as weird as the year before; the time line of injury and recovery didn’t exactly jibe as David Beckham was named MLS top comebacker for 2011.

Bobby Convey claimed the award in 2010, but … uh … what? Convey played in 26 matches in 2009, so whatever he was “coming back” from was apparently a well-kept secret.

At any rate, we come to the award in 2013, and now we land on a truly worthy choice in New England’s Kevin Alston.

Alston, a four-year starter at Gillette Stadium, had to take break from all things soccer in April when he was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia. He returned to the field in late July after four-and-a-half months of treatment.

  1. talgrath - Dec 2, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Certainly, I think Kevin Alston deserves this one this year, just being able to do anything after having to undergo chemotherapy is impressive. When I saw Lamar Neagle of the Sounders nominated, I knew that wasn’t going to happen because Alston’s story is just so much more compelling. That said, I don’t think Eddie Johnson was a bad choice last year; Johnson went from his career basically being on life support, to going to the Sounders are being the top scorer that year for the club after they took him on mostly as an experiment, setting their MLS record for most goals by an individual in a year and getting back into the USMNT.

    I know you would prefer the award be determined by coming back from injury, but coming back from a career slump is just as valid. Do I think Beckham deserved the award? No, it’s not like he was in the dumps, he was still raking in millions. As for Bobby Convey? Well he hadn’t played the game for over a year at the time that he signed with the Earthquakes, partially due to injury and partially due to not being in form enough to play for Reading; the fact that they was back on the field at all after that period of time was impressive.

    All of that said, Alston has come back form treatment to play pretty well in the game I saw him play in before the end of the season and he definitely deserves the award. Hopefully next year will be problem free for Alston and I wish him all the best.

    • Steve Davis - Dec 2, 2013 at 7:58 PM

      Good points, and fair enough. But the “timing” of convey and Beckham were off. Convey, probably would have looked a little more kosher had they given him the award in 2009, the year he actually did some “coming back.” … Ah, it’s just a little award, I s’pose. Just a funny little one.

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