Set-piece strength and aerial dominance, no matter how tactics evolve, will always have a role in the beautiful game.

That certainly applied to the 2021 MLS regular season, where center backs and central midfielders were among the clear leaders over the 34-game schedule.

We've taken a closer look at the league's top 30 players in aerial challenges, with data provided by Opta. Players had to engage in at least 50 such instances to qualify, then they're sorted by percentage won.

When looking at the list, it's also important to note the total amount of aerial duels each player was involved in, as some might have a higher percentage on a lower figure.

Nashville SC defender Walker Zimmerman, for instance, slotted third on the list at 73.2%. However, the 2020 MLS Defender of the Year compiled that percentage on 138 total aerial duels, which was the third-highest total of anyone in the top 30. The No. 1 player on the list, LA Galaxy defender Derrick Williams, won an impressive 75.8% of his aerial duels, but on 80 fewer total chances than Zimmerman. That's not to take anything away from Williams, but rather underscores how impressive Zimmerman is when going skyward.

Check out the full top 30 below.

Player
Aerials
Aerial Won
Aerial Lost
Aerial %
1. Derrick Williams (LA)
58
44
14
75.8%
2. Maxime Chanot (NYC)
101
74
27
73.2%
3. Walker Zimmerman (NSH)
138
101
37
73.1%
4. Steven Birnbaum (DC)
108
79
29
73.1%
5. Bryan Acosta (DAL)
52
38
14
73%
6. Yeimar Gomez Andrade (SEA)
120
87
33
72.5%
7. Frederic Brillant (DC)
58
42
16
72.4%
8. Antonio Carlos (ORL)
95
66
29
69.4%
9. Ilie Sanchez (SKC)
84
58
26
69%
10. Alan Franco (ATL)
74
51
23
68.9%
11. Miles Robinson (ATL)
90
62
28
68.8%
12. Chris Mavinga (TOR)
60
41
19
68.3%
13. Sean Davis (RBNY)
63
43
20
68.2%
14. Donovan Pines (DC)
91
61
30
67%
15. Andres Reyes (RBNY)
72
48
24
66.6%
16. Geoff Cameron (CIN)
89
59
30
66.2%
17. Tanner Beason (SJ)
102
67
35
65.6%
18. Danny Wilson (COL)
84
55
29
65.4%
19. Jonathan Mensah (CLB)
146
95
51
65%
20. Lalas Abubakar (COL)
83
54
29
65%
21. Omar Gonzalez (TOR)
108
70
38
64.8%
22. Nick Hagglund (CIN)
88
57
31
64.7%
23. James Sands (NYC)
68
44
24
64.7%
24. Sean Nealis (RBNY)
201
128
73
63.6%
25. Matt Hedges (DAL)
55
35
20
63.6%
26. Daniel Royer (RBNY)
60
38
22
63%
27. Ryan Hollingshead (DAL)
84
53
31
63%
28. Jesus David Murillo (LAFC)
92
58
34
63%
29. Chase Gasper (MIN)
73
46
27
63%
30. Nathan (SJ)
94
59
35
62.7%