Rodney Wallace is the first ever Timbers player to win the Comeback Player of the Year, beating out the competition from New England's Charlie Davies, Seattle's Stefan Frei, and D.C.'s Chris Pontius.
After tearing his ACL in the Portland Timbers' playoff loss to Real Salt Lake last year, Wallace missed the first half of the MLS season before bouncing back and contributing five goals and one assist to the Timbers in just seventeen appearances.
After the Timbers' rough start to the season, the return of Wallace to the starting lineup added a different dimension to the team's attack and defense, giving the Timbers a true threat on the left wing, who would track back and provide cover on defense. As the Timbers improved late in the season, it was obvious the effect that Wallace's return had on the team as they looked stronger and more confident going forward and searching for a playoff spot.
That Wallace seemed to be back to full strength in the same season in which he went through the majority of his recovery from injury is clearly impressive. The players, who would be in the best position to judge how difficult a feat that is, voted overwhelmingly for Wallace, giving him 28% of their vote. Wallace was also one of the top vote-winners among the club ballots, getting 20% of the vote from them.
The Timbers' press release:
TIMBERS MIDFIELDER RODNEY WALLACE NAMED 2014 MLS COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
PORTLAND, Ore. – Major League Soccer today announced Portland Timbers midfielder Rodney Wallace as the 2014 Comeback Player of the Year.
The award, which honors a player who has successfully overcome a significant hardship during the year, was voted on by media, MLS players and MLS club management based on regular-season performance.
Wallace, 26, missed the first 16 regular-season matches of 2014 while recovering from offseason knee surgery. The midfielder registered five goals and one assist in 17 appearances (12 starts) this season for the Timbers after successfully returning from a knee injury sustained in the second leg of the 2013 MLS Western Conference Championship against Real Salt Lake on Nov. 24, 2013. Making his regular-season debut on June 27 against Sporting Kansas City, Wallace appeared in 17 of the team’s 18 remaining matches, logging 1,058 minutes and tallying three goals in back-to-back victories over San Jose in October.
Wallace is the first Timbers player to earn the Comeback Player of the Year award in the team’s MLS era.
The other finalists for the 2014 Comeback Player of the Year included forward Charlie Davies (New England Revolution) and goalkeeper Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders FC). Below is a breakdown of the voting for the top four candidates:
% of Club Votes
% of Media Votes
% of Player Votes
Rodney Wallace (POR)
Charlie Davies (NE)
Stefan Frei (SEA)
Chris Pontius (DC)
MLS Comeback Player of the Year Winners:
2014: Rodney Wallace – Portland Timbers
2013: Kevin Alston – New England Revolution
2012: Eddie Johnson – Seattle Sounders FC
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