NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 18, 2020) – Major League Soccer announced today that Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman has been named the 2020 MLS Defender of the Year.
Zimmerman helped guide Nashville SC to a historic year, becoming the sixth expansion club in MLS history to clinch a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in its inaugural season. Nashville SC posted a goals against average of 0.96 goals per game, the best of any expansion club in league history, and tied for the league-lead with nine clean sheets this season. The club allowed 22 goals this season, third-fewest in the league, and only two goals more than the league leaders.
Offensively, Zimmerman scored three goals and registered one assist in 22 starts this season. Zimmerman scored the first goal in Nashville history on 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 wins 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 presented by adidas 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 Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs on Friday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised nationally on ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports and broadcasted on ESPN 102.5 The Game and ESPN 94.9 for English radio and El Jefe in Spanish.
The 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||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