LAFC’s Bradley Wright-Phillips is MLS comeback player of year

It’s been an interesting 12 months for LAFC forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, a two-time MLS scoring leader who didn’t have a job in December but on Friday was named the league’s comeback player of the year.

Last winter, after an injury-plagued season with the New York Red Bulls that saw him register career lows for starts (nine) and goals (two), Wright-Phillips was not offered a new contract after seven seasons with his only MLS club.

LAFC general manager John Thorrington, believing Wright-Phillips had more to give and convinced he would fit in with the team’s playing style, invited him to training camp as a trialist. When Wright-Phillips proved him right, Thorrington signed him on Valentine’s Day.

Days later he underwent surgery for a sports hernia and missed the start of the regular season, delaying his LAFC debut until the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla., in July. Filling in for the absent Carlos Vela, he quickly made up for lost time scoring a goal in each of his first three games.

Wright-Phillips, 35, missed the final two games of the regular season while dealing with an undisclosed personal matter but finished with eight goals and six assists in 18 appearances, tied for 11th in the league. Three of those goals were game-winners, most on the team.

That’s far below his best five-year stretch with the Red Bulls, when he averaged 21 goals a season and won two Supporters’ Shields, two Golden Boots and made two all-star teams. Not bad for a guy who didn’t have a contract nine months ago.

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