Last Friday, it was announced that the most expensive player in Sporting Kansas City history, center forward Alan Pulido, underwent knee surgery and would miss three to five weeks. It’s the latest in a stretch of injuries since Pulido joined ahead of the 2020 season which has left fans and pundits wondering, is he injury prone?
When I set out to look at Pulido’s injury history, both before coming to Sporting KC and after arriving, I started at Transfermarkt, but it’s woefully incomplete. It lists just one injury with his time in Kansas City, which we all know isn’t inaccurate. It only has two injuries at Chivas, so I had to dig deeper.
Next, I ended up at FBref.com, a great resource for stats that I don’t use nearly enough. Let’s just say, there are some gaps on his match logs. It’s not certain that they are injuries, but looking at the gaps from his time at Kansas City, they appear to be capturing injuries.
Injuries With Kansas City
Let’s work our way backwards in time and look at each injury.
- Last week’s knee surgery. Announced October 8th, with a return possible for early November. Games Missed: TBD
- That injury actually may have come from going down in a game on September 11th. He returned for limited minutes before ultimately going into surgery. Games Missed: Two
- Foot laceration on June 26th against LAFC. Pulido immediately left for national team duty with Mexico for the Gold Cup. He didn’t return to KC until August 4th. He played limited minutes while away, so it’s plausible time would have been missed. Games Missed: Incomplete
- Before the season, Pulido had picked up some sort of injury that saw Gianluca Busio making surprise starts at CF. Pulido was never listed on an injury report, but he missed the first two games. Vermes he was working back to full fitness and you simply don’t bench your DP CF if he’s healthy with the ability he’s shown when on the field. Games Missed: Two
- Before the 2020 playoffs Pulido went down injured, missed the rest of the regular season and all of the playoffs. Games Missed: Three (there was a two week FIFA break in here too)
- After MLS is Back, Pulido missed three weeks due to injury. Games Missed: Four
Injuries Before Kansas City
No games missed with Chivas. Only played the Apertura season before transferring to Kansas City.
Here is where the data gets sketchy. I struggled to find articles to support these injuries, they are just gaps in the regular season schedule, not supported by international call-ups.
- Pulido played March 16, 2019 and didn’t appear again until April 6th. He started the proceeding 11 games, though they had lost three of four. Maybe he was just benched, it’s not clear. Games Missed: One
- Pulido played August 5, 2018 and not again until the 24th. Games Missed: Three
- Alan played April 7, 2018 and not again until the 28th of April. He started before and was a sub in his return. Games Missed: Two
- Pulido was a starter March 10, 2018 and came off the bench on his return March 30th. Games Missed: One
- He was a starter before and after this stretch, but the winter break was in there too. Pulido started October 10, 2018 and returned for the Clausura on January 7, 2019. Games Missed: Four
- Pulido missed the start of the 2017 season with a fractured arm, not appearing until September 26, 2017. Games Missed: 14
No Games Missed
At this point the data gets sketchier. FB Reference only tracks a few game for Pulido’s time at Levadiakos and Olympiacos. So we’ll stop there.
Is Pulido Injury Prone?
At this point, it’s kind of inconclusive. He appears to consistently pickup small injuries (outside of the broken arm) that keep him out for a few games at a time, but nothing like the disastrous injuries that took seasons away for other players. It’s possible he’s picking up more injuries for lots of different reasons.
First, teams tend to foul him at lot since he joined SKC to break the rhythm of the game. He had several hard fouls that went either unpunished (LAFC foot laceration) or barely punished (yellow card by Minnesota United for WWE style clothesline). Second, there is no beating father time. Pulido is officially on the wrong side of 30 and will be 31 in the Spring. Striker is a position that often peaks at a younger age, especially when you play a demanding style like Pulido does.
Finally, it can’t be ruled out that Peter Vermes is a factor in this. He asks a lot of Alan and rarely gives him a rest. He’ll play all 90 minutes when the team is way up (or way down) and it’s entirely unnecessary. The MLS season is long and even small rests feel like they could go a long way.
Pulido is signed for two more seasons, guaranteed. If he can make it back in time for the 2021 playoffs and help this team lift a trophy, all will be forgotten. Hell, if he stays healthy in 2022 and 2023 and Kansas City are once again contenders and he’s there when it matters, the same will probably be true. But if Pulido can’t play when it matters, or doesn’t have an impact, there is a possibility this could go down as a ‘bad’ signing, even though Pulido has been exceptional when he’s on the field.
As Bill Parcels is famous for saying, “the best ability is availability.” Pulido needs to be on the field when it counts.