Sporting KC Striker Alan Pulido Sets Goal and Earns Recognition
Sporting Kansas City striker Alan Pulido is one of three finalists for the 2020 MLS Newcomer of the Year award, Major League Soccer announced today.
Pulido, 29, is nominated for the annual honor alongside Chicago Fire FC forward Robert Beric and Columbus Crew SC midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. Major League Soccer will announce the 2020 MLS Newcomer of the Year recipient in the near term.
MLS End of Year Award finalists were determined through voting between Oct. 29 and Nov. 9 from three groups: current MLS players, coaches and technical directors from all clubs, and select media members representing local and national outlets who consistently covered the 2020 MLS regular season.
Joining Sporting Kansas City last December on a club-record transfer fee from Liga MX side Chivas de Guadalajara, Pulido has enjoyed a brilliant first season in MLS as one of the league’s most well-rounded attackers. Tallying team-highs with six goals and five assists in 12 regular season appearances, the Mexican forward leads MLS newcomers and ranks third overall with 0.92 combined goals and assists per game. Additionally, Pulido is the first player since Josh Wolff in 2005 to lead the club in both goals and assists, and he’s the first newcomer to lead the team in both categories since Preki in Major League Soccer’s inaugural 1996 season.
Pulido had a remarkable impact on Sporting’s success over the course of the 2020 campaign. Manager Peter Vermes’ side went 8-2-1 and averaged 2.27 goals in the 11 regular season matches that Pulido started. His contributions helped Sporting finish atop the Western Conference standings with a 12-6-3 record and 1.86 points per match—the highest clip in the club’s 25-year history. He currently sits on seven goals in all competitions, having also scored against the Philadelphia Union in the quarterfinals of the MLS is Back Tournament in Walt Disney World.
Pulido stormed out of the gates in 2020, scoring in each of Sporting’s first two wins over Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Houston Dynamo on Feb. 29 and March 7. In doing so, he became one of four newcomers in Kansas City history to score in his opening two MLS appearances for the club. He carried that form into the MLS is Back Tournament in July, becoming the first Sporting newcomer ever—and the only MLS player in 2020—to score or assist in his first five games of the regular season.
After spending almost a month on the sideline through injury, Pulido bounced back with a game-changing performance in a 2-1 road win at Houston on Oct. 3 that kickstarted Sporting’s 6-1-1 finish to the regular season campaign. He scored both goals in the game and two days later landed MLS Player of the Week accolades.
Back in January, Pulido’s first impressions of Pinnacle and Children’s Mercy Park were glowing. Proud to have joined the KC squad, Pulido said, “These are amazing grounds. I’ve never seen such a specialized and organized club in terms of how day-to-day operations are carried out. It really blew me away and was much greater than what I expected. This proves that I made the right choice because, from what I can tell, the amount of attention and detail placed on improving the players is something that I never, ever could have expected. I already envision myself doing great things and displaying great performances at the club.”
And he has.