FRISCO, Texas (Friday, Nov. 11) – Major League Soccer announced today that FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges has been named the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year.
The 26-year-old American had another standout year, leading Dallas to victory in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the club’s first title since 1998, followed by a Supporters’ Shield title with the best record in MLS. With his stellar defensive play, Hedges helped Dallas become the first team in MLS history to record consecutive 60-plus point seasons along with back-to-back appearances in CONCACAF Champions League.
With Hedges in the lineup, Dallas recorded a dominant 13-4-9 record, giving up 23 goals in his 26 games played, an average of 0.88 goals allowed per game. During a Hedges absence due to injury, Dallas compiled a 4-4-0 record and conceded 17 goals in eight matches for a mark of 2.125 goals allowed per game. Further demonstrating his importance to the club, Dallas recorded 11 of its 12 shutouts this season with Hedges in the starting lineup, allowing 40 goals across the course of the season, tied for fourth best in MLS.
Hedges stellar 2016 season comes on the heels of an equally dominant 2015 campaign where he was named to the Best XI and finished as runner-up in MLS Defender of the Year voting. In each of his five seasons in Dallas, Hedges has logged over 2,000 minutes, providing a consistent and durable defensive presence that saw him named the youngest team captain in franchise history in 2014.
Drafted by Dallas with the No. 11 overall selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, Hedges won an NCAA Championship in his senior season at the University of North Carolina before beginning his professional career. Internationally, Hedges represents the United States, receiving his first cap for the U.S. Men’s National Team in a February 8, 2015 friendly victory over Panama.
The award was voted on by MLS club management, media, and MLS players.