Fresh off his second consecutive MLS Defender of the Year award and a rapid rise with the United States men’s national team, Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman is ready for the biggest year of his soccer career.
“It’s a big year,” he says. “It’s a year where a lot of those goals that I’ve had from prior to being a pro, this is a chance to make those dreams come true, make those goals come true.”
Nashville SC are aiming to qualify for the playoffs for the third straight season, an unprecedented feat. To make matters more complicated, they’re moving to MLS’s Western Conference and will play the first two months of the season away from home. The USMNT are in second place in Concacaf World Cup qualifying with just three matches left to play, and look set to qualify for Qatar in November. Zimmerman will play a key role for both teams.
“I think first and foremost, I want to win a trophy here,” Zimmerman says. “I want to bring some silverware back to the club. That’s probably goal number one… On the national side, it’s obviously qualification and a World Cup.”
And while team oriented goals are priority number one for Zimmerman, he still has his eye on an unprecedented third consecutive Defender of the Year nod.
“On a personal level, I expect myself to be in the conversation for individual awards. Defender of the Year, I want it again. No question about it. That’s a goal. All Star, that’s a goal for sure. All those awards, I’m going to chase every single year.”
Despite a milestone 2022 on the horizon, Zimmerman says he’s approaching things the same way he always has. He’s using the same strategy he has since day one in Music City.
“Ever since coming to Nashville, I’ve been very locked in on just doing things the right way, trying to show up every day and get better. That’s the only way these goals are going to be achieved.”
The MLS season is just weeks away. The final round of World Cup qualifiers, including a monumental away match in Mexico, is set for the end of March. Zimmerman says he’s ready.
“I’m ready to attack it. Ready to have a big year, and certainly have high expectations for myself and this team.”