Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman was announced as 2021 Major League Soccer Defender of the Year on Wednesday. Zimmerman, who also took home the award in 2020, becomes just the third player in MLS history to win the award in consecutive seasons.
“I’m extremely grateful to be named this year’s MLS Defender of the Year,” said Zimmerman. “Individual accolades aren’t possible without the quality of teammates I have here in Nashville and the success we’ve had collectively as a group throughout our entire roster. It’s a special moment for me and an honor I’ll cherish forever. I’m thankful to everyone who voted from the players, the executives and the media, and to the fans in Nashville for their constant support.”
With 30.97% of the total vote comprised of players, club staff and media members, Zimmerman nearly doubled the tally of the next-closest candidate.
|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%|
“Walker’s contributions and leadership to our team has helped transform a second-year expansion club into one of the elite defenses in Major League Soccer, and no one is more deserving of this distinguished honor,” said Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “We are so proud of him.”
Nashville SC conceded 33 goals all season, tied for the best defense in MLS. Zimmerman was a key part of the defense and an absolutely dominant aerial force, winning 73.2% of his headed duels. Nashville lost just three times with Zimmerman in the lineup.
Zimmerman was also a force on the other end of the field, scoring three goals and adding a career-high three assists. He developed into a core player for the US Men’s National Team, making eight appearances in 2021 and captaining the side four times. He especially drew plaudits for his performance in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Mexico on November 12.