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USMNT CB Zimmerman Becomes One Of MLS’s Highest-Paid Defenders Ever

Walker Zimmerman is getting paid. The USMNT center back signed a Designated Player deal with Nashville SC on Friday, making him one of the league’s highest-paid defenders. The new Walker Zimmerman contract will keep the 6-3 Georgia native in the Music City through the 2025 season making $10 million guaranteed over four years, according to the Athletic.

Zimmerman will be making $2.5 million per year, more than 2.5 times what he was making in 2021. That’s a pretty decent pay raise for a man who has become one of Gregg Berhalter’s most reliable defenders on the national team. 

The Zimmerman contract makes him just the fourth center back to be a Designated Player and second American defender DP in MLS history.

“Ever since I got traded to Nashville, there was talk about, ‘Hey, we’re committed to you. We want to make sure you're comfortable. We can build around you.’ And they backed it up every step of the way,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman won MLS Defender of the Year in his first two seasons in Nashville after joining from LAFC, in part thanks to his dominance in the air. For the USMNT, Zimmerman played in 10 of 14 World Cup qualifying matches, including a superb showing in a 3-0 win over Honduras on Feb. 3 when he had a goal and an assist. Zimmerman has 28 U.S. caps and is likely to be on the plane to Qatar in November.

It’s been a landmark week for Nashville. In addition to locking down Zimmerman, the club also announced Hany Mukhtar signed an extension to stay with the young MLS club through 2026. Those deals came on the heels of the announcement actor Reese Witherspoon and NFL star Derrick Henry joined the club’s ownership group.

Even better, Nashville SC is opening the largest soccer-specific stadium in the country on Sunday. Geodis Park holds 30,000 fans, replacing the LA Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park (27,000) as the biggest in the league. The first match at the new venue will be against the Philadelphia Union, live on ESPN at 2 p.m. ET Sunday. 

Nashville had a strong first full season in MLS. While the club’s first year in 2020 was a bit awkward with Covid-19 and the MLS Is Back Tournament, Nashville finished third in the East and reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs in 2021. With a new stadium and its two best players locked down for the foreseeable future, Nashville is a team on the rise.

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