FC Dallas center back Matt Hedges has won the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year award, the league announced Friday.
The 26-year-old defender beat out Jelle Van Damme of the LA Galaxy, Axel Sjoberg of the Rapids in the top three, with fellow FC Dallas center back Walker Zimmerman coming in fourth. Steve Birnbaum of D.C. United finished fifth.
Hedges finished third for the award last season, losing out to Laurent Ciman and Kendall Waston.
With Zimmerman, Hedges helped form the heart of the Supporters Shield-winning FC Dallas back line. The team surrendered 40 goals in 2016, which was tied for third in the league. However, with Hedges present, Dallas allowed only 23 goals in 26 games, while conceding 17 times in the eight games he missed due to a meniscus tear.
The award is decided based on votes from MLS players, MLS coaches and executives and media members. The result saw Hedges secure a plurality of the player and club vote respectively, though Sjoberg was the media’s top pick for the award. Overall, Hedges’ average beat out Van Damme 24.39 percent to 20.57 percent. Sjoberg finished with 16.96 percent.