Lamar Neagle did not win the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award. That's not a huge surprise, as it wasn't entirely clear what he was coming back from, exactly. The final results showed that he finished third, behind Kevin Alston (cancer) and Conor Casey (injury), who both had far more traditional cases to win the award.
What makes Neagle's finish notable, though, is that he actually won the players' vote with 19.35 percent. That's almost 3 percent more than any other player received. What's also somewhat interesting is that Donovan Ricketts (who finished fourth overall) got the second most player votes.
What do they both have in common? They are coming off bad seasons and rebounded with very solid ones. They also both happened to play for the Montreal Impact, which makes for a nice jab at our Francophone competitors but isn't really all that notable.
But it is interesting that players, in particular, place a lot of value in coming back from poor play. Eddie Johnson, last year's winner, was the overwhelming pick of the players for largely the same reason.
It all brings up a fair question: What is the basis for "Comeback Player of the Year", anyway? The actual qualifications are vague, likely on purpose. But each individual voter is obviously free to use their own criteria. Is it the player who overcame the biggest obstacle? That seems to be why Alston won. Or is it the nominated player who had the best season? That seems be why Johnson won. This year, Conor Casey may have been the best mix of the two, being as his 10 goals and 5 assists, coupled with legitimate "coming back" made him a strong candidate. But he didn't win any of the three voting blocs.
Curious to see what you guys think.