For the first time in their 23-year history, the Red Bulls have the boast the best defender in Major League Soccer.

Center back Aaron Long was named MLS defender of the year Wednesday afternoon.

Red Bulls left fullback Kemar Lawrence finished in fifth place in the balloting.

Long, 26, enjoyed a breakout year during the Red Bulls’ run to a third Supporters’ Shield and an MLS single-season points record (71). He played in all 34 regular season games while posting three goals and two assists in 2,806 minutes – all career highs. He led a defensive line that was the best in MLS, allowing only 33 goals in 34 games to represent the lone MLS club to concede less than one goal per game. Long additionally played in his first MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, earning the start during MLS’s highly touted match against Italian powerhouse Juventus.

Along with Tim Parker, the center back helped anchor the Red Bulls’ back line that advanced to the semifinals of the 2018 Concacaf Champions League. Long and the Red Bulls posted a memorable 2-0 road victory at Club Tijuana in the quarterfinals and a home shutout draw against Chivas de Guadalajara in the semifinals.

Long’s rise coincided with a heavy presence with the U.S. men’s national team, earning his first call-up in September, prior to the USA’s match against Brazil in East Rutherford, N.J.

He made his USMNT debut Oct. 16, playing the full match during a draw against Peru. He has been called in once again for the USA’s November international matches against England and Italy.


Defender of the Year Player Vote % Club Vote % Media Vote % Average %
Aaron Long (RBNY) 20.76% 25.47% 33.33% 26.52%
Chad Marshall (SEA) 11.70% 27.36% 23.72% 20.93%
Michael Parkhurst (ATL) 11.70% 6.60% 3.00% 7.10%
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (ATL) 5.85% 8.49% 3.00% 5.78%
Kemar Lawrence (RBNY) 5.85% 2.83% 8.11% 5.60%

MLS Defender of the Year Winners:
2018: Aaron Long – New York Red Bulls
2017: Ike Opara – Sporting Kansas City
2016: Matt Hedges – FC Dallas
2015: Laurent Ciman – Montreal Impact
2014: Chad Marshall – Seattle Sounders FC
2013: Jose Goncalves – New England Revolution
2012: Matt Besler – Sporting Kansas City
2011: Omar Gonzalez – LA Galaxy
2010: Jamison Olave – Real Salt Lake
2009: Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew SC
2008: Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew SC
2007: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
2006: Bobby Boswell – D.C. United
2005: Jimmy Conrad – Kansas City Wizards
2004: Robin Fraser – Columbus Crew SC
2003: Carlos Bocanegra – Chicago Fire
2002: Carlos Bocanegra – Chicago Fire
2001: Jeff Agoos – San Jose Earthquakes
2000: Peter Vermes – Kansas City Wizards
1999: Robin Fraser – LA Galaxy
1998: Lubos Kubik – Chicago Fire
1997: Eddie Pope – D.C. United
1996: John Doyle – San Jose Earthquakes