MLS Ticker: Long wins Defender of the Year, Whitecaps hire Dos Santos, and more

MLS Ticker: Long wins Defender of the Year, Whitecaps hire Dos Santos, and more

Major League Soccer

MLS Ticker: Long wins Defender of the Year, Whitecaps hire Dos Santos, and more

New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long was named the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year on Wednesday, capping off a brilliant year.

Long, 26, joined the Red Bulls setup in 2016 winning USL Defender of the Year with NYRBII during that season. He became a regular starter in 2017 with the Eastern Conference club before earning league honors in 2018.

He helped New York to a No. 1 seed in the MLS Playoffs in the East and a Supporters Shield crown. Starting 31 of his 34 appearances for the club this season, Long scored three goals and added two assists while helping his team concede only 33 goals in 34 matches.

Long also made his debut for the U.S. Men’s National Team in October, playing 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Peru. He has also been called up for November friendlies against England and Italy.

Long beat out Chad Marshall, Michael Parkhurst, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, and Kemar Lawrence for the honor.

Whitecaps name Marc Dos Santos as new head coach

The Vancouver Whitecaps appointed a new head coach on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year deal with Marc Dos Santos.

A native of Montreal, Quebec, Dos Santos most recently worked under Bob Bradley at LAFC helping the team to huge success in its debut season. Dos Santos has also made four championship final appearances at the professional level, winning the 2009 USL First Division and the 2017 NASL Soccer Bowl.

“Marc is a confident, driven leader who has proven himself as a winner at every level he has been tested,” said Whitecaps FC co-owner Jeff Mallett. “We were impressed by his ability to deliver a clear plan that optimizes all of our resources to measurably improve the club in critical areas. Bringing in Marc positions the club to meet our goals of competing regularly with the best in the league and to win trophies for Vancouver’s loyal supporters, starting first and foremost with the MLS Cup.”

Dos Santos will manage the first team roster including player transactions, looking to help the Caps’ improve on a eighth place finish in 2018.

D.C. United’s Taylor Kemp announces retirement

28-year-old D.C. United left back Taylor Kemp called it a career on Wednesday, announcing his retirement.

A starter with D.C. from 2015-17, Kemp played six years in MLS making 101 appearances with the Eastern Conference club.

Struggling with injuries, Kemp did not appear in 2018 despite a USMNT call up in January 2017. Kemp finished his career with three goals and 14 assists in regular season play, and one goal and one assist in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

“We want to thank Taylor for his years of commitment to the club and for being a model professional throughout the course of his career,” said United GM and VP of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper in a statement. “We wish Taylor the best of luck in the next chapter of his life.”

Crew’s Zardes wins 2018 Comeback Player of the Year

Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes was named the 2018 MLS Comeback Player of the Year after a stellar season with his newest club.

Zardes netted a career-best 19 goals in 2018, helping Gregg Berhalter’s side to a playoff berth. After only two goals with the LA Galaxy in 2017, Zardes was traded East and has shined bright for the Crew.

The 27-year-old has contributed 44% of his team’s 43 goals, sitting level with Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez as the best haul this season. Zardes ousted Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Osvaldo Alonso, Djordje Mihailovic, and Jonathan Osorio for the honor.

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