Jakob Glesnes played every minute of every game for Philadelphia. (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

Sorry, Alex Callens. You will just have to wait until next year.

The New York City FC center back finished third in the voting for Major League Soccer defender of the year, the league announced on Wednesday. Callens enjoyed an outstanding regular season on both sides of the ball, leading the backline and scoring five goals and adding one assist.

Philadelphia Union center back Jakob Glesnes won the accolade as he became the first Union player ever to receive the honor and the first European to win the award since Belgian defender Laurent Ciman in 2015.

Union linemate Kai Wagner was the runner-up in the voting of players, club and media.

Glesnes made Union history in 2022, when he became the club’s first player in consecutive years to start all 34 matches and play all 3,060 regulation minutes of the regular season. He was Philadelphia’s only field player to achieve the feat this season. He also was instrumental in Philly’s unbeaten home record (12-0-5) this campaign.

A vital piece to the Union’s league-best defense in 2022, Glesnes led the team in interceptions (57) as the team finished with the fewest goals allowed (26) during a 34-match season in MLS history. The Union was the only squad to concede less than 10 goals at home in 2022 (nine) as the Norwegian ranked second among all players in blocks at home with 17.

Glesnes provided an MLS career-high three assists this season, including an opening day assist against Minnesota United FC on Feb. 26 and a game-winning assist against Orlando City SC on July 23. He also committed 15 less fouls compared to 2021, dropping from 33 to 18, and received five fewer yellow cards as he improved from seven last season to two throughout all of 2022.

Glesnes was selected to the 2022 MLS All-Star Team that went on to defeat the LIGA MX All-Stars 2-1 on Aug. 10.

The award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media and current MLS players. Below is a breakdown of the voting results:


2022 MLS Defender of the Year Voting Breakdown
Name Player Vote Club Vote Media Vote Average Vote
Glesnes, Jakob (PHI) 17.90% 28.50% 31.90% 26.10%
Wagner, Kai (PHI) 8.00% 29.30% 6.40% 14.57%
Callens, Alexander (NYC) 7.30% 19.50% 12.80% 13.20%

A full list of previous MLS Defender of the Year award winners can be found below:

MLS Defender of the Year Winners
Season Player Club
2022 Jakob Glesnes Philadelphia Union
2021 Walker Zimmerman Nashville SC
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 Montréal 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
2008 Chad Marshall Columbus Crew
2007 Michael Parkhurst New England Revolution
2006 Bobby Boswell D.C. United
2005 Jimmy Conrad Kansas City Wizards
2004 Robin Fraser Columbus Crew
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 Clash