It’s a time-honored cliché in sports: When making ready to get a player back from an prolonged injury layoff, coaches like to comment how the return feels just like the team has a new signing.
Clearly, that is not fairly correct. In spite of everything, lots of the guys talked about under enter 2021 as prime candidates for the Comeback Player of the 12 months award and none will probably be eligible for the Newcomer of the 12 months prize. It is really like welcoming a trusted old friend back into the fold … however we get what they’re attempting to say. These returnees missed most of last season, so it nearly appears like an incoming freebie. Truthful sufficient, cliché-ists.
To totally get into the “like a new signing” mindset, we have centered on guys who played so little last season or did not function in any respect. I’ve little question that Portland will probably be ecstatic to get Sebastian Blanco back from injury, however he was round greater than sufficient last year to key their MLS is Back Tournament triumph. Not one of the guys who made the top 5 played greater than 180 MLS minutes in 2020.
Earlier than we bounce into the list, let’s give a quick nod to a couple honorable mentions: Ifunanyachi Achara, Maxime Crepeau and Johan Kappelhof.
New England stunned lots of people with their Japanese Conference Final run, although nobody may very well be blamed for pondering that the Revs would really be a title menace if that they had a rangy ball hawk to defend the backline.
We should always get the chance to search out out if that is true, as a result of all indications are that Caicedo will probably be ready when camp opens. The Colombian was fifth within the league in ball carrier pressures in 2018 and sixth in tackles the next season. With their faster picker-upper back within the team, Bruce Enviornment’s boys can have a a lot firmer foundation for his or her already sturdy counter sport.
If ever there was a runaway preseason Comeback Player of the 12 months favourite, that is it. Even when Martinez “solely” returns at about two-thirds of his regular capability, you are speaking about 20 goals Atlanta United did not have in 2020. And that is even earlier than you get to the consuming gravity he brings to the final third.
Ezequiel Barco will once more have house to be a menace. Marcelino Moreno can have added time in Zone 14 and a real by way of ball target. Brooks Lennon, meet your service target. You get the concept. Bringing the membership’s emotional lightning rod back into the side is not just about goals, however, yeah, there will probably be loads of these, too.
Martinez is a bigger-than-life determine to have the ability to bring back in attack. Opara, the 2019 MLS Defender of the 12 months, is that kind of determine on the back. In fact, the Minnesota United center back is about to turn 32 and it is unclear precisely what saved him out for all however two video games last season, so there’s a couple of questions on his skill to regain top type after the layoff.
Nonetheless, Loons boss Adrian Heath has spoken optimistically about Opara’s return. The team rode a curler coaster on the back with out him in 2020, and closed the year being stingy till Seattle pulled a rabbit out of the hat within the Western Conference Final. Getting prime Ike back within the XI would assist their contender aspirations.
A wholesome batch of young MLS talent has moved abroad this winter, and a year in the past Pomykal was extensively thought of a greater bet to earn a European switch than most of them. Then his 2020 season was interrupted by injury after solely 150 minutes of pitch time.
Whereas FC Dallas have made some key signings this offseason, an important change to last season’s XI could also be getting Pomykal back. He is a Swiss Military knife midfielder that organizes the team into the final third. This businesslike ingredient was missing from their 2020 season, and it usually confirmed.
The “oohs” and “aahs” have been flying in Columbus through the offseason due to touchdown free brokers Kevin Molino and Bradley Wright-Phillips (who solves the champs’ greatest potential weak point by offering strike cowl for Gyasi Zardes). I completely get it, these are spectacular strikes by the reigning MLS Cup champs.
These glitzy pick-ups have obscured the truth that the Crew will even “add” Wormgoor, who missed all however the first 106 minutes of last season. Not solely will the center back make what was already a stingy defensive unit even stronger, however the Dutchman is an ace at pinging lengthy balls to the wing. By my depend, that makes it scary occasions three bulking up the holders.