TAMPA, Fla. – There have been numerous outstanding defenders in the USL Championship’s 10 seasons.
After earning his fourth consecutive All-League first team selection last week, however, the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Forrest Lasso can be counted as the lone player to be a two-time Championship defender of the year honoree.
He also earned the award in 2018.
Joining the Rowdies this past offseason, Lasso led the second-best defense in the Championship’s regular season as Tampa Bay conceded only 11 goals in 16 regular season games. Alongside fellow newcomers Jordan Scarlett – honored in the All-League second team – and Aaron Guillen, Tampa Bay’s three-man back line allowed opponents a league-fewest 39 shots on goal in the regular season, an average of 2.44 per game.
Lasso’s feat of being named to four consecutive All-League first teams equaled that of Richmond Kickers legend William Yomby, who accomplished the same feat between the 2011-14 seasons. What may set Lasso’s feat apart, however, is that his honors have come with four different clubs. After a breakout season in 2017 with the Charleston Battery, the 6-foot-6 center back continued to lead stellar defensive units with FC Cincinnati in 2018 – where he earned his first Defender of the Year honor – and last year with Nashville SC.
This season, Lasso continued to impose himself as one of the most difficult players to succeed against in the Championship. He led the league with 86 clearances and won 77.8 percent of tackles and 66.3 percent of aerial duels, while only being dribbled past five times in 16 games by opponents. He also recorded three goals and one assist as he continued to be a threat on attacking set pieces.
As the Rowdies put together their most successful season since joining the Championship, Lasso again stood tall at the back.
Lasso took 40 percent of the vote to earn the award, while New Mexico United’s Kalen Ryden finished second on 33 percent and Louisville City FC’s Sean Totsch finished third on 27 percent.
The 2020 USL Championship Awards were voted on by team technical staffs and executives and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL Championship market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2020 Championship regular season.
2020 USL Championship awards
Goalkeeper of the Year: Ben Lundt, Louisville City FC
Defender of the Year: Forrest Lasso, Tampa Bay Rowdies
Coach of the Year: November 5
Young Player of the Year: November 5
Most Valuable Player: November 6
USL Championship defender of the year
2011: Rob Valentino, Orlando City SC
2012: Troy Roberts, Rochester Rhinos
2013: Colin Falvey, Charleston Battery
2014: Nemanja Vukovic, Sacramento Republic FC
2015: Bryan Burke, Louisville City FC
2016: Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls II
2017: Sebastien Ibeagha, San Antonio FC
2018: Forrest Lasso, FC Cincinnati
2019: Joe Greenspan, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC