As we expand our waistlines post turkey day festivities, and open up those wallets ahead of the next major holiday, we figured it would be the perfect time to resume those 2022 end-of-season awards polls. This time around we are trying to determine who within the LA Galaxy backline had a season worthy of Defender of the Year honors.
Up first, is second-year Galaxy defender Séga Coulibaly. After a solid inaugural season in MLS, Coulibaly built on that for season two as G. He started 24 of the 27 appearances he made, had 65 clearances, 15 blocks and 28 interceptions. He had a 63% tackle success rate and a 58% success rate in duels. Oh, he also got his first-ever MLS goal in April of this season, giving him one lifelong memory to go along with his single goal this season. In a season of inconsistency at times, he was very much a consistent force in the back.
Despite being the first player moved on to another team after the 2022 campaign, having been traded to D.C. United, Derrick Williams had a really impressive season with LA. Making 26 appearances with 24 starts, Williams logged over 2100 minutes finishing the season with an 88% success rate in passing, 58% duel success rate, and even had an assist during his final season with LA. Much like Coulibaly, he didn't light up the league, but he did provide consistent defense that helped the team mount some of those late-match heroics they grew so fond of in 2022.
LOCALLY GROWN, GLOBALLY KNOWN— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) October 15, 2022
JULIAN ARAUJO'S FIRST GOAL OF THE SEASON IS ELECTRIC ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/4djVbXLMuB
Is there really any surprise in the last nominee for defender of the year? Local product, 21-year-old defender Julián Araujo. On the surface, you might feel like Araujo took a step back this season, but numbers suggest otherwise. Since I am a firm believer in numbers not being the end-all in sports discussions, that narrative is perhaps because he didn't make the massive leap many, including myself, expected him to. To be fair, he is still only 21 years of age, and his 2022 was actually the best — statistically speaking — of all the defenders on the team last season.
Araujo started 30 of his 33 appearances, finishing the season with 79 clearances, 3 blocks, and 49 interceptions. He boasted 66% win rate in tackles and 50% win rate in duels. As is the case with the young Mexican International, it isn't just his ability defensively that makes him such a threat. He also had a career-high nine assists with a career-high 86% success rate in passing. Oh, and he also scored a goal. That goal, was the one from above, the one that helped lift Galaxy past Nashville SC in the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs. So while he may not have taken the giant leap to world-class defender just yet, he isn't far off, and if 2023 is another year of improvement, it won't take long before the world takes notice.
Who do YOU think is deserving of the LAG Confidential 2022 Defender of the Year honor? Make sure you cast your vote now, and drop a comment telling us why you chose who you did!
LA Galaxy 2022 Defender of the Year
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