NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 10, 2020) – Nashville Soccer Club announced today its end of the season team awards for the club’s inaugural campaign in Major League Soccer. The list of categories and bios of each award winner can be found below.
|NASHVILLE SC END OF THE YEAR AWARD||NASHVILLE SC AWARD WINNER|
|Most Valuable Player Presented by Heineken||Walker Zimmerman|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Randall Leal|
|Defensive Player of the Year Presented by AON||Dave Romney|
|Goal of the Year||Daniel Ríos (Goal vs FC Dallas on Oct. 20)|
|Humanitarian of the Year||Jalil Anibaba|
NASHVILLE SC MOST VALUABLE PLAYER PRESENTED BY HEINEKEN: Walker Zimmerman
Walker Zimmerman was acquired by Nashville SC weeks before the season started in a record-breaking deal for a defender and has proven his worth. In the 2020 campaign Zimmerman has anchored a record-breaking backline that has produced nine shutouts as of Nov. 10. The nine clean sheets were tied for the most in MLS. Through 23 matches played, Zimmerman ranked first in MLS in headed clearances with 68, tied for sixth in aerials won with 64 and is tied for fourth in goals scored by a defender with three. Zimmerman leads Nashville SC in clearances (112), headed clearances (68), and second in interceptions (38).
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Randall Leal
Randall Leal has been the offensive sparkplug for Nashville SC in the club’s inaugural season in MLS. As of Nov. 10, the Costa Rican midfielder has recorded three goals and four assists in his first campaign in MLS. Leal’s four assists are tied with Captain Dax McCarty and Designated Player Hany Mukhtar for the team lead. Leal is the team leader for Nashville SC in shots attempted with 41 and shots on goal with 18. Leal has earned MLS Team of the Week honors three times this season in his first year with Nashville.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY AON: Dave Romney
Dave Romney has been the iron man for Nashville SC this season. Romney is the only outfield player for Nashville to have played every minute of the 2020 season, racking up 2,070 minutes, becoming the only Nashville SC outfield player to play every minute in 2020. This season has proven to be Romney’s personal best relative to 23 matches played within a season. Romney has anchored a record-breaking backline to nine shutouts and has recorded 45 aerial balls won, 45 headed clearances and a team leading 19 blocks.
GOAL OF THE YEAR: Daniel Ríos (Goal vs. FC Dallas Oct. 20)
Daniel Ríos has made his impact felt in his first season in Major League Soccer. Ríos finished tied for the team-lead in goals scored for Nashville alongside Hany Mukhtar. Rios had a stretch of matches where the forward recorded four goals in six matches from Sept. 23 through Oct. 31. On Oct. 20 at Nissan Stadium, Ríos recorded the goal of the year by capping off a 3-0 victory over FC Dallas in national television. After receiving a beautiful through ball from Randall Leal, Ríos collected the pass inside the 18-yard box and took a touch to his left, then immediately to his right, twisting defender Reto Ziegler to the ground. Ríos then finish off the goal with a rocket into the side netting.
HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR: Jalil Anibaba
Jalil Anibaba has made his impact felt in the community in 2020 and has used his platform to provide a voice for change. Anibaba, along with fellow MLS players started the Black Players For Change (BCP) organization, days after the death of George Floyd.
BPC is an independent organization consisting of over 170 players, coaches and staff of MLS, working to bridge the racial equality gap that exists in society. BPC is committed to tackling the racial injustices that have limited Black people from having an equitable stake in the game of soccer and society. Among the many goals the organization strives to advance the attention on human right inequalities from protest to programs, partnerships and policies that address systemic racism.
Anibaba has made an immediate impact at the local level here in Nashville. In celebration of Juneteenth, Anibaba and his Nashville SC teammates volunteered at the Community Resource Center to make household preparedness kits for families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Community Resource center collects and distribute essential goods and medical supplies to Nashvillians in poverty and has been a key player assisting Middle Tennessee’s most vulnerable families.
The Nashville SC defender is also the host of the Anibaba Skills Camp where kids ages 5-18 have an opportunity to sign up and register for soccer clinics hosted by the player.
Nashville SC finished off its sensational inaugural MLS campaign with a comeback victory over Orlando City SC on Nov. 8 that solidified their place as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
In conquering the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Nashville set a league record with the fewest number of goals conceded as an expansion team (22 in 23 matches). Additionally, it became the fifth expansion team to get more points (32) and points per game (1.39) behind Chicago Fire (1998), Seattle Sounders FC (2009), Atlanta United FC (2017) and LAFC (2018).
In the play-in round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Nashville SC is set to host 10th seeded Inter Miami CF at Nissan Stadium on Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The two expansion sides have met twice in 2020, with Nashville owning a 1W-0L-1D record. The Boys in Gold have also built a fortress of Nissan Stadium and with a 4W-1L-5D since the season restarted in August, they will look to beat Miami and advance to Round One where they will meet Toronto FC on Nov. 24.
Follow Nashville SC in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs by visiting www.NashvilleSC.com and the club’s social channels on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.