Nashville SC's Walker Zimmerman joins exclusive company, wins MLS Defender of the Year again


Walker Zimmerman of Nashville SC has joined former defenders Chad Marshall and Carlos Bocanegra in achieving what no other player has done before in MLS history.

Zimmerman was named the 2021 MLS Defender of the Year by a landslide vote Wednesday, becoming the fifth MLS player to win the award multiple times and just the third since the league’s inception in 1996 to win it in consecutive years. Marshall was the last to do so in 2008-09.

Zimmerman received 31% of the total vote, which includes MLS clubs’ technical front office staff, players and the media. Next in line was Seattle Sounders FC’s Yeimar Gomez, who earned 16.8%. Zimmerman collected a whopping 42.4% of technical staff votes across the league.

“I’m extremely grateful to be named this year’s MLS Defender of the Year,” Zimmerman said in team release. “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,” Zimmerman added. “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.”

Zimmerman scored three goals this season, matching his 2020 total. But this year, the 6-foot-2 defender added two assists. The center back set the bar high in Nashville SC’s inaugural MLS season in 2020, coupling his Defender of the Year trophy with being named to the MLS Best XI team for the second time in his career (2019-20).

Zimmerman helped a Nashville defense allow just 33 goals during the regular season, which equaled Seattle and the New York Red Bulls for the fewest conceded.

The 28-year-old Zimmerman has also played an anchoring role with the U.S. Men’s National Team during its current 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers campaign, which began in September and will continue through March 2022. Zimmerman has made five of his 22 appearances during World Cup Qualifying this year, starting in four of those matches.

For stories about Nashville SC or Soccer in Tennessee, contact Drake Hills at DHills@gannett.com. Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake. Connect with Drake on Instagram at @drakehillssoccer and on Facebook.

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