Less than a month into his tenure with LAFC, center back Walker Zimmerman already has an important distinction in Club history.
On Monday, Zimmerman became the first player in LAFC history to be called into the U.S. Men’s National Team after it was announced he’d been selected to take part in the annual January Camp. The invite comes following Zimmerman’s participation in 2017’s camp, and continues the rise of the 24-year-old’s burgeoning international career.
A Lawrenceville, GA native, Zimmerman began his trajectory towards the senior U.S. National Team when he captained the U.S. Under-18 National Team at the 2011 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland. The U.S. would go on to capture third place in the tournament thanks to wins over Israel and Georgia. Later that year, Zimmerman attended Furman University starting in all 22 regular season games for the Paladins and helping the team to an NCAA berth as a freshman. He was named to Soccer America’s Freshman All-American First Team while also collecting Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and All-Southern Conference honors.
Following his sophomore season at Furman, Zimmerman was selected with the No. 7 pick overall by FC Dallas in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. In five seasons with Dallas, the center back became a fixture in the first team playing in 89 matches and contributing seven goals. He started all 30 games in Dallas’ Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield winning season of 2016, subsequently earning a call in to the U.S. National Team’s January Camp in 2017.
Always an honor to represent the red white and blue! #USMNT— Walker Zimmerman (@thewalkerzim) January 8, 2018
After not appearing in the team’s first match out of camp, Zimmerman earned his international debut with a start in the friendly against Jamaica on Feb. 3, 2017. In the 1-0 win, the 6-foot-3 center back proved worthy with a stout performance against a physical Jamaican side. The effort earned him 'Man of the Match' honors.
“As soon as I wasn’t in the starting line-up for the game in San Diego, I knew that I was going to be starting the next game. I was getting really positive reviews from the coaches and they were really excited for me,” Zimmerman said regarding his first cap. “For me, it was great because the game was in Chattanooga, which is only about two hours from Atlanta, and all my friends and family came out to support. So that was fun for me to get to have my first cap be in their presence, and to be able to play well and get a result for the team.”
Despite that high note to start 2017, a knee injury put a damper on the mobile defender’s 2017 MLS season. He would appear in just 22 games for FC Dallas, as the team failed to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs. On Dec. 10, 2017, LAFC acquired Zimmerman in exchange for $250,000 in General Allocation Money and $250,000 in Targeted Allocation Money.
A month after joining LAFC, Zimmerman got the call.
“It’s obviously very important to always try to get called into the national team and put your best foot forward trying to make an impression and become a regular there,” Zimmerman said on being called to his second January Camp. “To start representing LAFC on that level obviously means a lot, and I’m sure it’s something we can continue going forward.”
With this year’s USMNT camp featuring 15 players seeking their first cap, Zimmerman is considered one of the few veterans in the squad. The defender is looking forward to entering his second camp as a leader.
“I think I’ll have a little bit more confidence going in, a little bit more composure and just a peace of mind. But at the same time, I don’t think that will change my intensity or my desire to go out and win and to compete,” Zimmerman said. “But I think there will be a level of comfort there just from having already been here before.
“I’m really looking forward to that experience and hoping to earn a spot in the starting eleven come the end of January.”