Red Bull's Aaron Long Named MLS Defender of the Year

Major League Soccer announced today that the New York Red Bulls’ Aaron Long has been named the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year. The 26-year-old center back becomes the first player among New York-based MLS teams to win this award.

Long enjoyed a breakout year during the Red Bulls’ run to a third Supporters’ Shield and an MLS single-season points record (71). He played in all 34 regular season games while posting three goals and two assists in 2,806 minutes – all career highs.

He led a defensive line that was the best in MLS, allowing only 33 goals in 34 games to represent the lone MLS club to concede less than one goal per game. Long additionally played in his first MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, earning the start during MLS’s highly touted match against Italian powerhouse Juventus.

Long anchored the Red Bulls’ back line that advanced to the semifinals of the 2018 Concacaf Champions League, helping earn notable results against Liga MX competition. Long and the Red Bulls posted a memorable 2-0 road victory at Club Tijuana in the quarterfinals and a home shutout draw against Chivas de Guadalajara in the semifinals.

Long’s rise coincided with a heavy presence with the U.S. Men’s National Team, earning his first call-up in September, prior to the USA’s match against Brazil in East Rutherford, N.J. Long made his U.S. MNT debut on Oct. 16, playing the full match during a draw against Peru. He has been called in once again for the USA’s November international matches against England and Italy.

"On behalf of the entire club I'd like to congratulate Aaron for this well-deserved recognition," said Red Bulls Sporting Director Denis Hamlett. "Watching Aaron's growth on and off the field, from USL Defender of the Year in 2016 to MLS All-Star, U.S. national team player and now MLS Defender of the Year, has been tremendous. Our organization takes pride in developing young players and giving them opportunities to succeed. Aaron is an excellent example of what can happen when a young player dedicates themselves to learning and becoming better every day."

At 26, Long has had quite the season to remember, being named an MLS All-Star, earning his first call-up and start for the USMNT and now being honored as the league's best defender, as voted by the media, all MLS players and technical staffs. A breakdown of voting is below. He becomes the first player in club history to earn Defender of the Year and fourth player to record a major award.

"We are very proud of Aaron, and happy for him," said Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas. "Aaron has had a unique story to get to this point and has established himself as a real leader of our backline and team. It's great to see him get this recognition, it's so well deserved."

In his second full season, Long started 31 of the 34 league matches, anchoring a Red Bulls defense that recorded 14 shutouts and allowed a league-low 33 goals in 34 games in MLS. Offensively, he tallied career-bests in both goals (3) and assists (2). The Oak Hills, California, native was not only named to his first MLS All-Star match, but started and played a game-high 62 minutes to help the MLS All-Stars tie Italian-side Juventus, 1-1.

Long ranked in the top 20 league-wide in five defensive categories this season, including fourth in aerials won (101), fifth in clearances (146), eighth in duels won (176), tied for eighth in blocks (24) and 16th in interceptions (16).

For country, Long earned his first senior cap in October's 1-1 draw against Peru, playing a full 90 minutes as part of a backline that allowed just three shots on goal. He received his first national team call - at any level - for the September camp and friendlies against Brazil and Mexico, and yesterday was named to the November roster for matches against England and Italy.

Long joined the Red Bulls organization ahead of the 2016 season, where he was converted from midfielder to center back after signing with NYRB II, the club's USL affiliate. Long excelled in his new role, earning 2016 USL Defender of the Year honors and promotion to the First Team.

Long and the Red Bulls will continue their playoff run as they host Columbus Crew SC in Leg 2 of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday at Red Bull Arena. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. with coverage on FS1, FOX Deportes and New York Red Bulls Radio in English and Spanish on TuneIn. Columbus Crew SC holds a 1-0 aggregate lead over New York after Leg 1.

Defender of the Year
Player Vote %
Club Vote %
Media Vote %
Average %

Aaron Long (RBNY)

Chad Marshall (SEA)

Michael Parkhurst (ATL)

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (ATL)

Kemar Lawrence (RBNY)

MLS Defender of the Year Winners:
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

Last edited by Dave Birnbaum; 11/08/18 04:25 PM.