New York Red Bulls' Aaron Long wins 2018 MLS Defender of the Year award

New York Red Bulls center back Aaron Long has been named the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year, the league announced Wednesday.

The award caps Long's sensational 2018, in which he helped lead the Red Bulls to a record-setting 71 points en route to the team's third Supporters' Shield in six seasons, while conceding a league-low 33 goals in 34 games. Long featured in all 34, starting 31. He even chipped in with three goals and two assists. 

Long also made his debut at the international level this year, playing 90 minutes in the US men's national team's 1-1 draw with Peru in October. He was called up to the national team again on Tuesday for two November friendlies.

The 26-year-old has enjoyed a rapid ascension since joining the Red Bulls' setup in 2016. He was signed to RBNY II in the USL ahead of that season and won the league's Defender of the Year award. The following year, he established himself immediately as a core member Red Bulls' starting XI before making the leap to Defender of the Year caliber in 2018.

The defender was selected in the second round (No. 36 overall) by the Portland Timbers in 2014 but didn't make an appearance for the club before being released in July of the same season. The Seattle Sounders picked up Long in 2015 and he spent that year with Sounders II. The Red Bulls brought him in for a trial in 2016. 

Long narrowly edged Seattle's Chad Marshall for the award, with Atlanta's Michael Parkhurst finishing third. Teammate Kemar Lawrence was fifth on the ballot. 

Voting Results

Nominee Player
Aaron Long (RBNY) 20.76% 25.47% 33.33% 26.52%
Chad Marshall (SEA) 11.70% 27.36% 23.72% 20.93%
Michael Parkhurst (ATL) 11.70% 6.60% 3.00% 7.10%
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (ATL) 5.85% 8.49% 3.00% 5.78%
Kemar Lawrence (RBNY) 5.85% 2.83% 8.11% 5.60%

MLS Defender of the Year Winners

  • 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

MLS Unites to VOTE

Join Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change, and the MLS Players Association in participating in the November 3 general election. In-person early voting has started in over 30 states. Make a plan to vote.