KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After scoring a brace Saturday against Austin FC, Sporting Kansas City forward Alan Pulido was chosen as the Major League Soccer Player of the Matchday, the league announced Monday.
Pulido also added an assist during Sporting KC’s 4-1 win as Manager Peter Vermes’ squad continued its surge up the Western Conference standings after struggling to earn results in the first 10 weeks of the season.
Sporting KC, which started 0-7-3, has gone 5-1-2 during the last two months, moving from the bottom of the Western Conference table into playoff position.
Pulido’s recent form has been a big reason. He became the first player in Sporting KC history to score two goals and deliver the game-winning assist in a home match during the win against Austin FC on Saturday at Children's Mercy Park.
Pulido, who missed the entire 2022 season after knee surgery, is Sporting KC’s first MLS Player of the Matchday since winger Johnny Russell received the honor late in the 2021 season.
It is Pulido’s second player-of-the-week honor since joining MLS, including a midseason award in 2020.
"Honestly, I'm feeling the best that I've ever felt mentally and physically,” Pulido said. “This past year was very difficult for me. I made a lot of sacrifices and I believe I brought out the best version of myself. That's why I think you can see the results now. I've really sacrificed a lot and I’ve worked really hard to get these results. I just have to keep working the way I have and giving my best for the club."
Pulido scored in the 19th and 57th minutes sandwiched around as flick-on assists on Robert Castellanos’ 47th-minute goal.
Pulido is tied for the team lead with five goals across all competitions this season.
"When he was injured, (there were) obviously very serious surgeries that he had, but he put his head down and he worked extremely hard,” Vermes said. “I think he's seeing the fruits of that labor that he put in. I think you're also starting to see again the player that we originally had in the beginning. I always knew it was going to take a little bit of time, but he's been building and building and building and he's getting better week after week."