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Nashville SC's Walker Zimmerman Named MLS Defender of the Year

December 1, 2021 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release

NEW YORK - Major League Soccer today announced Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman has been named the 2021 MLS Defender of the Year. Zimmerman becomes the third player in league history and the first in more than a decade to win the award in consecutive seasons.

He helped anchor a Nashville SC defense which tied for the best in Major League Soccer with a goals against average of 0.97, the second season in the club's two-year MLS history where it has allowed less than a goal per game.

Download Walker Zimmerman MLS Defender of the Year Media Assets HERE. The U.S. international defender was also part of a joint league-leading 13 shutouts over the course of the season, a year when the club became just the seventh in MLS history go through an entire campaign at home without a single loss (8-0-9 at Nissan Stadium).

Offensively, Zimmerman scored three goals and added two assists in 25 appearances (22 starts), the assists a single-season career-high in his ninth year in MLS, after he was the No. 7 overall pick out of Furman Univ. in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Zimmerman was previously a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year honors in 2019 (while with Los Angeles Football Club) and 2016 (with FC Dallas).

On the international level, Zimmerman has been an integral part of the U.S. national team's back line for the past few seasons. He was part of the squad which claimed the Concacaf Gold Cup this year, captaining the team for two group-stage matches, and has started each of the last five FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, now with 21 international caps (with 2 goals). Zimmerman was also a starter in the 2021 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, playing the first 45 minutes in the eventual MLS win against the Liga MX All-Stars.

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

Defender of the Year


Walker Zimmerman (NSH) 22.40% 42.40% 28.10% 30.97%

Yeimar Gomez (SEA) 13.50% 15.20% 21.70% 16.80%

Miles Robinson (ATL) 9.90% 15.20% 10.30% 11.80%

Andreu Fontas (KC) 3.10% 3.00% 10.80% 5.63%

DeJuan Jones (NE) 5.70% 3.00% 3.40% 4.03%

MLS Defender of the Year Winners:

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 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

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