Awards - 2020 - MLS Defender of the Year

Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman named MLS Defender of the Year

Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman named MLS Defender of the Year
U.S. Men’s National Team center back leads Nashville to best defense in MLS expansion history  
NEW YORK (Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020) – Major League Soccer announced today that Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman has been named the 2020 MLS Defender of the Year.
Zimmerman helped guide Nashville SC to a historic year, becoming the sixth expansion club in MLS history to clinch a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in its inaugural season. Nashville SC posted a goals against average of 0.96 goals per game, the best of any expansion club in league history, and tied for the league-lead with nine clean sheets this season. The club allowed 22 goals this season, third-fewest in the league, and only two goals more than the league leaders.
  • CLICK HERE to join Nashville SC’s media availability today at 3 p.m. ET with Zimmerman, captain Dax McCarty and head coach Gary Smith
    • Meeting ID: 947 9770 1517
  • Surprise unveil video, reaction soundbytes, highlights and photos of Zimmerman are available HERE
    • Media must register to access and download content through the above link. Media will be able to access once their account has been approved.
Offensively, Zimmerman scored three goals and registered one assist in 22 starts this season. Zimmerman scored the first goal in Nashville history on Feb. 29 in the club’s inaugural match. The 27-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team regular led MLS with 69 headed clearances, while his 64 aerials won were tied for sixth-most.
Zimmerman wins his first Defender of the Year award after finishing as runner-up last season while playing with the Los Angeles Football Club. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas also finished fourth in Defender of the Year award voting in 2016 while with FC Dallas.
Nashville SC will host Inter Miami CF at Nissan Stadium in the Play-In Round of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs on Friday, Nov. 20 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports).
The award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media, and current MLS players. Below is a breakdown of the voting results:
Defender of the Year
Player %
Club %
Media %
Final %
Walker Zimmerman (NSH)
Mark McKenzie (PHI)
Jonathan Mensah (CLB)
Anton Tinnerholm (NYC)
Chris Mavinga (TOR)
Richie Laryea (TOR)
MLS Defender of the Year Winners:
2020: Walker Zimmerman – Nashville SC
2019: Ike Opara – Minnesota United FC
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 SC
2008: Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew SC
2007: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
2006: Bobby Boswell – D.C. United
2005: Jimmy Conrad – Kansas City Wizards
2004: Robin Fraser – Columbus Crew SC
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 – LA Galaxy
1998: Lubos Kubik – Chicago Fire
1997: Eddie Pope – D.C. United
1996: John Doyle – San Jose Earthquakes