2011 may have been the year of the comeback for the Sounders FC, but 2012 has some tales of redemption too.
Last season, the Sounders came back after allowing the first goal to earn either a win or draw in ten matches, with seven of those ending with Seattle taking the three points.
This season, though, the comeback tales have been of the individual variety.
Steve Zakuani made a dramatic comeback from an injury that threatened his career and has one goal and one assist in seven appearances this year to show for his hard work over the 500 days between when he suffered the fractured tibia and fibula in his right leg and when he made his first start for the Sounders.
Tonight, Marcus Hahnemann is scheduled to make his comeback from retirement, playing his first match for the Sounders wince winning the A-League championship match in 1996.
Meanwhile, forward Eddie Johnson may be the frontrunner for the MLS Comeback Player of the Year.
When he last played in MLS in 2007, he set the league alight with 15 goals and six assists for the Kansas City Wizards before embarking on a journey to Europe to play for Fulham.
After four seasons that were littered with loan deals to Cardiff City, Aris and Preston North End, Johnson returned to MLS, looking for a chance to regain his form and his position with the US National Team.
With the Sounders, he has exploded for 14 goals and three assists and returned to the Stars and Stripes in prime form, picking up two goals and an assist in two critical World Cup qualifying matches against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala.
“He certainly has come into the league and made a big splash,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
In the first seven years of the award, the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award was given to players coming back from injuries. However, in the five years since, only twice has the award gone to players who missed significant time to injury the previous year. In 2010, Bobby Convey won the award with his ten assist-season, but he played in 26 matches the prior year, just not up to the standard that earned Convey playing time with the US National Team. In 2009, Zach Thornton earned the honors after spending most of the 2008 season in a backup role.
The first to be recognized by the league as Comeback Player of the Year without a significant injury preceding that season was Johnson, himself, back in 2007. In 2004, Johnson had a breakout season, scoring 12 goals with the Dallas Burn. However, he couldn’t repeat that success in 2005, netting just five goals. Then in 2006 that dipped to two goals in 18 matches after a move to the Wizards.
Johnson has a chance to add to his total on Sunday when the Sounders face the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in a match televised nationally on ESPN. Kickoff is slated for 6 pm Pacific with local radio coverage on 97.3 KIRO FM.