Is Walker Zimmerman the best center-back in the MLS? After voted three times for MLS All-star, the Nashville defender has proven his dominance in the MLS and the USMNT. But does he deserve the title as the best center-back in the MLS?
In 27 games with Nashville, Zimmerman has scored three goals and assisted once with a total of 35 tackles, 15 blocks and 115 clearances so far. He is part of a Nashville defense that has only allowed 37 goals, which is the third least in the Western Conference and fourth least in the league. He is also among the lead leaders in accurate back zone passes. Zimmerman has been the heart of the Nashville defense that has been one of the league’s best defensive teams.
Zimmerman spent his whole career playing in the MLS. He started his career with F.C Dallas, then moved to LAFC and spent two seasons in California. When Nashville joined the league in 2020, Zimmerman was their first signing and quickly became the face of Nashville.
He not only has success in the MLS, but in international soccer as well. Zimmerman first made his debut for the USMNT in Feb. 2017. He quickly established his position on the team and earned his starting center-back position. Zimmerman will be the USMNT most important player in the defense for the World Cup in Qatar.
He will be leading a very young back four with Sergino Dest, Chris Richards, and Antonee Robinson all averaging the age of just 23 years old. As one of the oldest players on the team at the age of 29, Zimmerman will have the responsibility to be a leader for the young players on the team.
When it comes to the best center-backs in the league, there is only other player that compares close to Zimmerman. Philadelphia Union’s Jack Elliot has been outstanding for the Union all season. He has a total of 141 clearances with 47 tackles and 12 clean sheets. The Union have had the best defense by only allowing 21 goals, least in the league.
So is Walker Zimmerman the best center-back in the MLS? Some will argue that technically Elliot is, but Zimmerman is a better leader in that position. Though Zimmerman is not producing the numbers Elliot is, he has been a huge influence for Nashville in keeping them in the top four in the Western Conference.
Though MLS MVP is not usually given to defenders, Zimmerman can make an argument that he is deserving of it. His presence and contribution to the team is a legitimate argument for MVP. However, is teammate Hany Mukhtar is the lead front runner to win that award with his exceptional season he is having.
However, Zimmerman is a heavy favorite to win MLS defender of the year for a third straight season as he prepares to lead the USMNT to a strong run to the World Cup in November.
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