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Justin Morrow named runner-up for MLS Defender of the Year award

Ike Opara of Sporting Kansas City gets it.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Morrow has finished in second place in the voting for MLS’ Defender of the Year award.

The Toronto FC wing-back claimed nearly 14% of the overall vote, finishing behind Sporting Kansas City’s Ike Opara (28.5%). Kendall Waston of the Vancouver Whitecaps placed third.

MLS players, staff and media voted on a longlist that was made up of each club putting forward up to two of its defenders for consideration.

It is debatable whether Morrow can really even be called a defender anymore, such is his aggressive, attacking role for TFC, and he scored eight goals during the regular season - four more than any other player classified as a defender.

Few would argue, though, that the 30-year-old was not deserving of some kind of recognition. He has been one of Toronto’s most reliable performers since joining the club in 2014 and earned a recall to the United States men’s national team for the Gold Cup during the summer.

I voted on behalf of Waking the Red and chose Atlanta United’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez as the winner, followed by Morrow.

Gonzalez Pirez finished third overall, according to the Canadian Press’ Neil Davidson, with Opara’s SKC partner Matt Besler in fourth and the Seattle SoundersJoevin Jones - who, like Morrow, has spent much of the year playing as a left midfielder - fifth.

Chris Mavinga was the second defender Toronto put forward for the prize.

On Wednesday, Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel was named Rookie of the Year ahead of Abu Danladi (Minnesota United) and Jack Elliott (Philadelphia Union). My votes went to the actual top two, Gressel and Danladi, in that category.