Sporting Kansas City forward Alan Pulido was voted the Major League Soccer Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire for Matchday 18 of the 2023 season, MLS announced on Monday.
Pulido starred in Sporting KC’s 4-1 victory over Austin FC at Children's Mercy Park on Saturday, becoming the first player in club history to score two goals and record a game-winning assist in an MLS regular season home match.
A week after opening the scoring in Sporting's 1-1 draw in Vancouver, Pulido played a part in the first three goals on Saturday as Sporting jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the hour mark. Playing his 50th match for SKC in all competitions, Pulido struck first in the 19th minute with a first-time finish, then flicked on a free kick in the 47th minute as Robert Castellanos doubled Sporting's advantage and finally bagged his brace with a well-taken goal in the 57th minute.
An MLS Newcomer of the Year finalist in 2020, Pulido missed all of the 2022 season due to knee surgery and returned to the field on April 1, 2023 after missing 45 consecutive regular season matches. Pulido ranks second in club history with 0.62 goal contributions per game and third all-time with 0.76 goal contributions per 90 minutes among players with at least 50 appearances for Sporting in all competitions. The World Cup veteran has 29 total goal contributions (18 goals, 11 assists) in 37 career MLS regular season starts and is tied for the team lead with five goals in all competitions this season.
"When he was injured, (there were) obviously very serious surgeries that he had, but he put his head down and he worked extremely hard. I think he's seeing the fruits of that labor that he put in," Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. "I think you're also starting to see again the player that we originally had in the beginning. I always knew it was going to take a little bit of time, but he's been building and building and building and he's getting better week after week."
"I'm really happy. The team is most important to me. It felt like a complete victory because we won and I was able to score two goals," Pulido said. "Honestly, I'm feeling the best that I've ever felt mentally and physically. This past year was very difficult for me. I made a lot of sacrifices and I believe I brought out the best version of myself. That's why I think you can see the results now. I've really sacrificed a lot and I’ve worked really hard to get these results. I just have to keep working the way I have and giving my best for the club."
Pulido is the first Sporting Kansas City player to win MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire since Johnny Russell on Matchday 33 in 2021. This is the second time Pulido has earned the honor in his career after doing so for his performance on Matchday 15 of 2020.
The MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire is selected each matchday of the regular season through both media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining 25 percent of voting. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio and online media.
Sporting KC All-Time MLS Players of the Week/Matchday
- 2023: Alan Pulido (Matchday 18)
- 2021: Daniel Salloi (Week 28) & Johnny Russell (Week 33)
- 2020: Alan Pulido (Week 15)
- 2019: Johnny Russell (Week 13)
- 2018: Tim Melia (Week 6) & Johnny Russell (Week 8)
- 2015: Paulo Nagamura (Week 24), Benny Feilhaber (Week 29) & Tim Melia (Week 31)
- 2014: Graham Zusi (Week 4) & Benny Feilhaber (Week 19)
- 2013: Graham Zusi (Week 10)
- 2011: Omar Bravo (Week 1) & Graham Zusi (Week 23)
- 2009: Josh Wolff (Week 5, Week 9 & Week 25)
- 2008: Claudio Lopez (Week 30)
- 2007: Eddie Johnson (Week 2, Week 8 & Week 9) & Scott Sealy (Week 24 & Week 29)
- 2006: Scott Sealy (Week 12), Davy Arnaud (Week 24), Josh Wolff (Week 27) & Jose Burciaga, Jr. (Week 28)
- 2005: Josh Wolff (Week 7 & Week 20)
- 2004: Davy Arnaud (Week 14)
- 2003: Chris Klein (Week 2 & Week 27), Preki (Week 9 & Week 12) & Igor Simutenkov (Week 15)
- 2002: Chris Klein (Week 4) & Tony Meola (Week 21)
- 2001: Chris Klein (Week 2) & Chris Brown (Week 3)
- 2000: Peter Vermes (Week 10) & Tony Meola (Week 15)
- 1999: Chris Klein (Week 19)
- 1998: Vitalis Takawira (Week 10)
- 1997: Preki (Week 12 & Week 14)
- 1996: Preki (Week 8) & Mark Chung (Week 12)