NEW YORK – Major League Soccer announced Wednesday that Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman has been named the MLS defender of the year.

New York City FC right back Anton Tinnerholm finished fourth in the voting.

Zimmerman helped guide Nashville SC to a successful season as it became the sixth expansion club in MLS history to clinch a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs in its inaugural season. Nashville SC posted a goals-against average of 0.96 goals, the best of any expansion club in the league’s 25-year history, and tied for the league-lead with nine shutouts. The club allowed 22 goals this, third-fewest in the league, and only two goals more than the league leaders.

The defender scored three goals and registered one assist in 22 starts. Zimmerman scored the first goal in Nashville history Feb. 29 in the club’s inaugural match. The 27-year-old U.S. men’s national team regular led MLS with 69 headed clearances, while his 64 aerials won were tied for sixth most.

Zimmerman won his first defender of the year award after finishing as runner-up last season while playing with the Los Angeles Football Club. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft also finished fourth in defender of the year award voting in 2016 while with FC Dallas.

Nashville SC will host Inter Miami CF at Nissan Stadium in the Play-In Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs Friday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports).

The award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media, and current MLS players.

 

Defender of the Year

Player %

Club %

Media %

Final %

Walker Zimmerman (NSH)

16.82%

34.23%

34.04%

28.37%

Mark McKenzie (PHI)

20.75%

27.03%

21.35%

23.04%

Jonathan Mensah (CLB)

16.67%

14.41%

17.12%

16.07%

Anton Tinnerholm (NYC)

5.50%

5.41%

12.68%

7.86%

Chris Mavinga (TOR)

3.77%

6.31%

1.90%

3.99%

Richie Laryea (TOR)

6.45%

1.80%

0.85%

3.03%


MLS Defender of the Year Winners:

2020: Walker Zimmerman – Nashville SC

2019: Ike Opara – Minnesota United FC

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