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SBI MLS Defender of the Year: Kendall Waston

Photo by Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

During his brief opening season in MLS, Kendall Waston looked to have all of the makings of an elite defender. In his first full MLS run, he proved to be the best of the bunch.

Waston led the way for a stout Vancouver Whitecaps defense, helping to guide the team to their best-ever finish. The Costa Rican centerback’s performances throughout the season earned him recognition as SBI MLS Defender of the Year.

A rock in the Whitecaps defense, Waston ranks near the top of the league in nearly every major defensive category. The 27-year-old central defender ranked tops among defenders in aerial duals won, proving to be the league’s biggest threat in the air on the defensive side of the ball. Waston’s aerial prowess also benefited the Caps on the attacking end, where the Costa Rican contributed two goals, including a game-winner against the San Jose Earthquakes on July 26.

However, Waston’s biggest contributions may have come from his ability to lead. Paired with both Pa Moudoh Kah and rookie Tim Parker throughout the season, Waston was a rock no matter his partner while organizing and leading one of the league’s best defenses.

Overall, Waston’s play through 29 appearances helped the Whitecaps maintain 12 shutouts while allowing only 36 goals to earn Waston honors as the league’s top defender.

Here is a rundown of the other candidates for the SBI MLS Defender of the Year Award, as chosen by SBI Editorial Staff:


Much of the credit may be given to the team’s high-flying group of young attackers, but FC Dallas would be nowhere near the Western Conference finals if not for Matt Hedges. The 25-year-old centerback appeared 31 times this season for FC Dallas, helping to equal a club record with 13 shutouts. While his recent successes have yet to see him recognized fully on the international level, Hedges has certainly solidified his place as one of the league’s elite defenders.


Heading into 2015, the Montreal Impact were just one or two pieces away from contention, and one of those pieces turned out to be Laurent Ciman. The Belgian centerback proved to be the missing link in the Impact back line, which allowed 14 fewer goals in 2015 than the year prior. In addition, Ciman provided two goals and two assists while earning deserved plaudits as an MLS All-Star.


The 2015 campaign was Chad Marshall’s 12th in MLS, but the Seattle Sounders defender showed no signs of slowing down. The three-time MLS Defender of the Year turned in a year full of solid performances, helping to lead the Seattle Sounders to the postseason yet again. Appropriately revered as the “Air Marshall,” the centerback led the Sounders in clearances, blocks and interceptions per game in 2015.


Matt Miazga’s meteoric rise has seen the 19-year-old defender go from prospect to star. Following the departure of Jameson Olave, Miazga became the Red Bulls’ go-to centerback while earning his place among the league’s best defenders. Using his large frame, Miazga proved to be one of the league’s best in the air while also demonstrating composure on the ball rarely seen by a young defender. Now set for his U.S. Men’s National Team debut, Miazga looks to be a major part of not just the Red Bulls future, but their present run through the MLS Cup Playoffs.


What do you think of our selection? Which player stood out to you as Defender of the Year in 2015?

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