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Nashville SC spends big to acquire Walker Zimmerman from LAFC

Zimmerman, 26, joins Nashville SC after earning MLS Best XI honors and an MLS All-Star team nod in 2019.

United States defender Walker Zimmerman (5) heads the ball during a friendly soccer match between the United States and Costa Rica in Carson, Calif., Feb. 1. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

Nashville SC have acquired U.S. men’s national team central defender Walker Zimmerman from Los Angeles FC in one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the Major League Soccer offseason.

LAFC will receive up to $1.25 million in allocation money and an international roster spot from Nashville for the 26-year-old’s services. The Athletic first reported on the trade Tuesday morning.

This transaction breaks up an LAFC defensive corps that surrendered the second-fewest goals in MLS last season. That said, the resources LAFC have coming its way – not only the cash and international roster spot, but also the $600,000 in salary cap relief from Zimmerman’s guaranteed compensation – should give the defending Supporters’ Shield winners plenty of capital to find someone new to help anchor their back line.

LAFC receive $600,000 in 2020 General Allocation Money, $350,000 in 2021 GAM, and an additional $150,000 in GAM in both 2020 and 2021, if Zimmerman meets unspecified performance-based metrics.

“In his two seasons in Los Angeles, Walker was a consummate professional and a great leader on and off the field,” LAFC executive vice president and general manager John Thorrington said in a statement. “He and his wife Sally played an integral role within the LAFC family and community, and he will always be a part of our history. On behalf of the club, we wish Walker and his family nothing but the best in his future.”

Meanwhile, Nashville is getting a starting caliber player who earned MLS Best XI and MLS All-Star team honors in 2019. The expansion side, which opens in MLS slate Feb. 29 against Atlanta United, now has 12 defensive players on its first team roster.

Zimmerman’s professional career started in 2013 with FC Dallas, where he scored seven goals in 89 appearances and won the 2016 U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield.

“Walker Zimmerman is a player who we had our sights on when we first started to assemble this group, and we are very excited to add his on and off field abilities and leadership to our roster,” Nashville GM Mike Jacobs said in a statement. “He has proven success at the domestic and national team levels and fits the mold of the kind of player and person that our club represents.”

The 6-foot-3 center-back joined LAFC in 2017. He scored five goals in 51 appearances across all competitions for the Black-and-Gold.

At the international level, Zimmerman has scored two goals in 12 games with the USMNT and has also represented the U.S. U-18, U-20, and U-23 national teams.

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