Earlier this month, MLSsoccer.com senior producer and Kansas native Andrew Wiebe tabbed Sporting Kansas City as a darkhorse candidate to win the MLS is Back Tournament, which will begin next Wednesday, July 8, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
This afternoon, Wiebe picked his top five MLS is Back Tournament MVP contenders. Yet again, he has representation from Sporting, as striker Alan Pulido made the list of frontrunners alongside LAFC star and fellow Mexican Carlos Vela, Alejandro Pozuelo of Toronto FC, Raul Ruidiaz of Seattle Sounders FC and Pity Martinez of Atlanta United FC.
Pulido arrived in Kansas City in December as the club's record signing from Chivas de Guadalajara. He duly delivered in the first two games of the season, tallying two goals and an assist as Sporting took an early lead in the Supporters' Shield standings.
As Wiebe writes, "No Felipe Gutierrez, no problem. Sporting KC has the depth to survive the loss of their Designated Player No. 10.
"Pulido is a Player of the Tournament favorite, but not because he’s going to take over games. He’s a favorite, in my mind, because the group around him will create a flood of opportunities for him to do what he does best: put the ball in the back of the net, by any means necessary. We saw that in the season’s first two matches.
"Like LAFC, I expect Sporting KC to be extremely prepared for the unique conditions, physical challenges and the tactical nuances of this tournament. Pulido will be the beneficiary. Not just because he is a top-tier finisher, but because he’ll work off the ball, too. If he does both – and Sporting’s backline rebounds from the 2019 debacle – there will be wins and goals."
Sporting will open their group stage campaign on July 12 against rivals Minnesota United FC before facing the Colorado Rapids on July 17 and Real Salt Lake on July 22. All three contests will be shown live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the ESPN app. Visit SportingKC.com's MLS is Back Tournament Countdown by clicking here.