Gyasi Zardes Wins 2018 MLS Comeback Player of the Year

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Gyasi Zardes
ATLANTA, GA AUGUST 19: Columbus forward Gyasi Zardes (11) prepares to shoot the ball during the match between Atlanta United and Columbus Crew on August 19th, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta United FC defeated Columbus Crew SC by a score of 3 - 1. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Columbus, Ohio (November 7, 2018)Columbus Crew SC players continue to rack up MLS postseason awards.

The latest example was Gyasi Zardes, who the league named its 2018 Comeback Player of the Year on Wednesday. The accolade comes just one day after his teammate, goalkeeper Zack Steffen, won Goalkeeper of the Year Honors.

Gyasi Zardes Named MLS Comeback Player of the Year for 2018

Zardes took advantage of a change of scenery and subsequently revived his career in 2018. His first season in Columbus saw him register a single-season career-high 19 goals during the regular season, good enough for fourth-best in MLS. It was also the highest total for an American player in the league.

It’s in stark contrast to his final season with the LA Galaxy. A combination of injury and overall poor form limited him to just two goals during the 2017 season. The situation got so bad that then Galaxy manager Sigi Schmid deployed him at right back late in the year.

But after a trade that sent Zardes to Crew SC in exchange for Ola Kamara, he began to thrive. The 27-year-old is just the latest to succeed in Gregg Berhalter’s system. Whether it was Kei Kamara in 2015 when the club made it all the way to MLS Cup, or Ola over the next two seasons, goals galore have come to the Crew SC point striker. Zardes was no different.

The Hawthorne, CA native received 36.09 percent of the total vote, nearly 10 percent more than second-placed Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the Galaxy. The largest component of his vote came from the media, who gave him 52.73 percent of their vote while Ibrahimovic received 16.67 percent. Both players received an equal share of the club vote, while Ibra took in 31.87 percent of the votes from players compared to Zardes’ 24.85 percent.

Zardes appears to be peaking at the right time as well. He registered a hat trick in the season finale against Minnesota United and scored the lone goal in Crew SC’s 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. His next chance to shine and, in the process, help his squad seal a spot in MLS’ final four comes on Sunday in the second leg.

Previous MLS Comeback Player of the Year Winners

2017: Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders
2016: Chris Pontius, Philadelphia Union
2015: Tim Melia, Sporting KC
2014: Rodney Wallace, Portland Timbers
2013: Kevin Alson, New England Revolution
2012: Eddie Johnson, Seattle Sounders
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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