Awards - 2020 - MLS Defender of the Year

Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman has been named the 2020 MLS Defender of the Year, it was announced Wednesday, marking the center back’s first major award in his eighth season in the league.


Zimmerman, 27, was acquired by the expansion club in February via a blockbuster trade with LAFC, giving them a defensive cornerstone en route to becoming the sixth expansion club in MLS history to clinch a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs during its inaugural season.


Zimmerman also finished as runner-up in Defender of the Year voting last season while with LAFC, though he did earn All-Star and Best XI recognition in 2019. 


Nashville had a goals against average of 0.96 goals per game, the best of any expansion club in league history, and they tied for the league-lead with nine clean sheets. The club allowed 22 goals, third-fewest in the league, and only two goals more than the league leaders.


Zimmerman not only led Nashville’s backline, but he also chipped in three goals and one assist, placing him among the club's top scorers. One of those goals was Nashville's first-ever goal in their Feb. 29 debut game against Atlanta United at Nissan Stadium before nearly 60,000 fans.


The No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Zimmerman began his MLS career with FC Dallas before moving to LAFC in 2018 and then to Nashville SC this year. On the US men's national team stage, Zimmerman has two goals in 12 appearances.


Other players to register double-digit vote percentages were the Philadelphia Union's Mark McKenzie and Columbus Crew SC captain Jonathan Mensah. Zimmerman, however, won out with 28.37% of the final vote.


Voting Results

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Nominee
Player Vote
Club Vote
Media Vote
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
  • 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
  • 2008: Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew
  • 2007: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
  • 2006: Bobby Boswell – D.C. United
  • 2005: Jimmy Conrad – Kansas City Wizards
  • 2004: Robin Fraser – Columbus Crew
  • 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 – Los Angeles Galaxy
  • 1998: Lubos Kubik – Chicago Fire
  • 1997: Eddie Pope – D.C. United
  • 1996: John Doyle – San Jose Earthquakes

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