Santino Quaranta had the best season of his professional career this year. He set career highs in games played (27), started (23) and minutes played (1,963). He also tied his career high in goals with five.
His impressive output comes on the heels of a public admission to past drug addiction and a 2007 season split between the Red Bulls in Galaxy in which he played a total of just 265 minutes. At the beginning of 2008, Tino found himself out of MLS. He turned to the club where he began his professional career as a 16-year old wunderkind. After several sit-down meetings with Head Coach Tom Soehn, General Manager Dave Kasper and the club's President and CEO Kevin Payne, the 24-year old was given the only thing he asked for: a chance.
Wanting only an opportunity to show that he was on the right track and fully committed to his career and the team, Santino signed for a mere fraction of the salary he was previously making. The turnaround was astounding to all who came in contact with the new Tino - not just on the field, but in the locker room and off the field.
And now, Santino has been named one of three finalists for the League's Comeback Player of the Year award, sharing the nomiation with Dallas' Kenny Cooper and Columbus' Jon Busch. Both Cooper and Busch came back from significant injuries sustained last year, but no one in MLS is more deserving of recognition than Santino Quaranta.
The winner of the award will be announced on Saturday, November 22.