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Georgia native hoping to ride career year to USMNT call-up

Can Walker Zimmerman break into the national team?

MLS: Orlando City SC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Three short years ago, an All-America second team defender out of Furman University, was drafted seventh overall by FC Dallas. Though going in the first round, Georgia native, Walker Zimmerman, got off to a rough start in MLS. Zimmerman made only 17 appearances for Dallas in his first two seasons and struggled to fight off injuries along the way.

Fast forward two seasons and things look a lot different. After starting 15 of the last 17 games for FC Dallas, who sit atop the Western Conference standings, Zimmerman has drawn interest from Club Atlas of Liga MX and now aims to catch the eye of bigger fish.

With the 2018 World Cup in Russia just 23 months away, the Lawrenceville native and former GSA defender aims for a call-up to the United States national team. The 23-year-old was a part of the U-23 squad that lost to Colombia in the Olympic qualifier back in March but never actually played. Since then, he has become a mainstay in the Dallas backline and has earned the praises of manager Oscar Pareja, who told

Walker has had a terrific season so far. I think he’s maturing in many areas of his game, and for me what I like to see the most is the approach he has with his character. He’s been great. He’s a player I can count on any day.

Last week, Zimmerman was named the SBI MLS Midseason Defender of the Year beating out several worthy contenders including Axel Sjoberg and Laurent Ciman.

“After truly breaking into the starting lineup last season, Zimmerman has shined throughout 2016,” Ryan Tolmich of SBI writes. “Tested repeatedly throughout the year, Zimmerman has proven to be a rock in defense, repaying FC Dallas’ faith in him with a half-season full of strong performances.”

Can Zimmerman realistically expect to be considered for the U.S. national team? With the way he is currently playing and looking at the USMNT’s upcoming fixtures, absolutely. The U.S. take on St. Vincent & The Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago in World Cup Qualifiers in September. These are important matches but matches the U.S. should expect to win even with a weaker squad.

If Klinsmann wants to have the strongest possible squad in 2018 he will eventually need to look at younger players such as Zimmerman. These qualifiers before the hex would be as good as time as any for Klinsmann to mix in some younger players into the squad to see what they have to offer at a higher level.