Major League Soccer announced Monday the finalists for the individual end of year awards, featuring three Nashville SC players in the running. From the press release:
Nashville Soccer Club, in conjunction with Major League Soccer have announced that three players on the Nashville SC roster have been named as finalists for MLS End of the Year Awards for the 2021 season.
Midfielder Hany Mukhtar has been named a finalist for the Landon Donovan MVP, while defender Walker Zimmerman has been named a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year and goalkeeper Joe Willis is a finalist for the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year.
The finalists (in alphabetical order) which follow below earned the most votes in polling among three voting groups:
• Current MLS players.
• MLS club technical staffs (coaches, technical directors/GMs).
• Select group of media members.
2021 Major League Soccer Award Finalists
Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Finalists
• Valentín Castellanos (New York City FC)
• Carles Gil (New England Revolution)
• HANY MUKHTAR (NASHVILLE SC)
• João Paulo (Seattle Sounders FC)
• Dániel Sallói (Sporting Kansas City)
Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year Finalists
• Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
• Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
• JOE WILLIS (NASHVILLE SC)
Defender of the Year Finalists
• Yeimar Gómez (Seattle Sounders FC)
• Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)
• WALKER ZIMMERMAN (NASHVILLE SC)
Hany Mukhtar leads MLS in combined goals and assists, scoring 16 and assisting an additional 12.
Walker Zimmerman was named to the 2021 MLS All Star team, in addition to earning eight caps for the US Men’s National Team in 2021, including a start against Mexico last week in World Cup Qualifying. Zimmerman scored three goals for Nashville in 2021, earning an additional three assists.
Joe Willis earned 13 clean sheets in 2021, tied for the league lead. He lead the league in 2020 with nine shutouts, and has played every minute for Nashville at the MLS level.
Nashville nominated other members of their club for additional individual awards, but none reached the required threshold to be designated a finalist. Gary Smith appeared to have a strong case for Coach of the Year, but wasn’t included alongside New England’s Bruce Arena, Colorado’s Robin Fraser and Seattle’s Brian Schmetzer.
As a member of the voting media, my votes are as follows:
- MVP – Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)
- Goalkeeper – Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
- Defender – Andreu Fontàs (Sporting KC)
- Newcomer – Chico Arango (LAFC)
- Young player – Tajon Buchanan (New England Revolution)
- Comeback – Sebastian Blanco (Portland Timbers)
- Coach – Bruce Arena (New England Revolution)
The winners in each category, along with inclusions in the MLS Best XI, will be announced in the week leading up to MLS Cup on December 11.