There weren’t too many positives to take away from the 2016 season, but the unequivocal success of Jelle Van Damme was one of them. Joining the LA Galaxy prior to the beginning of the 2016 season, Van Damme was a tall imposing figure that most Galaxy fans knew little about. But after starting and playing in 28 games for LA and getting nearly 2500 minutes of action – not to mention capturing the LA Galaxy’s Defender of the Year Award (As voted on by the media), he’s become a fan favorite and should be LA’s number one priority when it comes to the off-season.
Van Damme should still be under contract but it’s widely expected that the LA Galaxy may want to sweeten that contract and extend the Belgians stay in Galaxy colors.
But as dominating as he was on defense, and even as dangerous as he was getting into the offensive zone, he couldn’t quite capture the league’s top prize for a defender. It was announced today that FC Dallas’ Matt Hedges won the MLS Defender of the Year award with Jelle Van Damme coming in a pretty close second place.
The award was voted on by MLS Club Management, Media, and MLS players. Corner of the Galaxy did not have a vote in this particular league award.
Van Damme received 19.73% of the player vote, 16.98% of the media vote, and 25.00% of the club vote. Finishing second in every category except for the media vote who overwhelmingly chose Axel Sjoberg of Colorado. I guess the media just really watched a lot of Colorado games?
The full table of voting can be seen below.
Defender of the Year
Player Vote %
Media Vote %
Club Vote %
Matt Hedges (DAL)
Jelle Van Damme (LA)
Axel Sjoberg (COL)
Walker Zimmerman (DAL)
Steve Birnbaum (DC)
Really, the only thing that was missing from Van Damme’s inaugural season was a goal. But for a guy who hit the post more times than I’m sure he cares to remember, perhaps League MVP will be on his mind in 2017.