[MLS] The league hands out its Comeback Player of the Year Award Wednesday to the player who has overcome adversity to play at a high level. The grit and guile displayed by Bobby Convey of San Jose this season earns our selection.
Comeback Player of the Year Finalists
Chris Albright (New York)
Bobby Convey (San Jose)
Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
Two former members of the U.S. national team and a young player who recently earned his first cap have rebounded impressively from severe knee injuries.
Albright, 31, managed to play just one game last season for New England while recovering from a meniscus injury in his left knee that required two surgeries: an initial procedure and then a follow-up after he’d aggravated the condition. New York signed him on a conditional contract and he needed a couple of months to prove his body could stand up to the rigors of MLS. Once he proved his fitness, he stabilized the right-back slot defensively and gave the Red Bulls a capable option coming up the flank behind Dane Richards to serve crosses.
Convey, 27, formerly of D.C. United, came back to MLS last season after playing in England for Reading with questions regarding the lingering effects of knee injuries he’d suffered before and after playing for the USA in the 2006 World Cup. After a rough first season in San Jose – in 26 games he managed just one goal and two assists for a team that won seven games – he trained rigorously during the offseason. Supremely fit and relatively free of pain, he led the Quakes with 10 assists while also defending tenaciously whether deployed at left back or his preferred left mid spot. A spectacular two-goal, one-assist match in the playoffs propelled San Jose to within one game of MLS Cup.
Shea, 20, finally got through a pro season, his third, without suffering the knee injuries (meniscus, again) that had marred his first two years. He played just 17 minutes in 2008 and 727 last year (during which he still managed four assists). This year he started 21 of 25 matches, scored five goals, notched four assists, and gave FCD a big (6-foot-4, 188 pounds) yet mobile and skilled presence on the left flank as it established itself among the league’s elite teams.
We can’t argue against Albright and Shea but for his value to his team playing a vital two-way role, our pick is Convey.