Chris Pontius has capped off his productive 2016 season with a trophy.
Following up three injury-riddled seasons with D.C. United, where he scored six goals and four assists in 51 games, the veteran attacker has won MLS Comeback Player of the Year. Pontius led the resurgent Union with 12 goals and was tied for second on the team with six assists in 33 games.
"Thank you to MLS for this award," Pontius said in the team's official release. "This season would not have been possible without (technical director) Chris Albright, (sporting director) Earnie Stewart and (manager) Jim Curtin and the belief they have in me to continue to play at a high level."
According to the official tally, Pontius, who finished tied as the most productive American-born goalscorer in MLS in 2016, beat out New York City FC’s Frank Lampard with 22.4 percent of the vote to Lampard’s 15.21 percent.
Traded to the Union in 2015, Pontius was expected to be a part-time player and veteran presence for a young Union team that needed leadership. But instead of being limited by the need for rest and treatment on nagging injuries, Pontius excelled, playing 2,571 minutes — the most in his career over one season.
"I appreciate the opportunity they gave me this season here in Philadelphia," he said. "A big thank you to my teammates for a tremendous season. Every guy in our locker-room deserves credit for our achievements in 2016."
Pontius, 29, will return to the Union in 2017 on the final year of his contract. He is just the fourth individual award-winner in the Union’s history, joining Sebastien Le Toux (2010 & 2011) and Keegan Rosenberry (2016), who combined for three MLS Fair Play awards.
"Thank you to the voters who recognized the season our team had," Pontius said. "We have a great group of guys and I look forward to continued success in 2017."