After often being the third center back in the Philadelphia Union’s defensive core last season, Jakob Glesnes made his mark in a major way in 2021.
After playing in 20 games last season (all competitions) and logging 1,583 minutes, Glesnes played just about every minute in the 2021 campaign in one of the league’s strongest defenses. He played all 3,060 minutes of the MLS season and doubled his overall minutes to 3,839 in all competitions.
Glesnes’ ability to hit bangers was apparent two games into his Union career with his rocket against LAFC but he proved that was no fluke in 2021. Out of his four goals for the Union in 2021, one was a fantastic contender for goal of the year, and the other would have been had it not come in the playoffs.
Glesnes notched four goals against an xG of 1.8. It’s most especially worth noting that his playoff xG was 0.0, meaning that his game winning against Red Bull wasn’t even on the charts.
Defensively, Glesnes had an even better season.
In the MLS regular season, Glesnes had 25 successful tackles, 47 interceptions, and 145 clearances as he helped push the Union toward defensive dominance: the Union gave up just 35 goals in 2021 MLS regular season play, good enough for fourth place and just two goals behind first.
Across the league, Glesnes was one of the better center backs. Jim Curtin pegged both him and Jack Elliott as deserving of consideration for Defender of the Year or Best XI awards, and Glesnes was certainly deserving of such praise as a dark horse.
At 27 years old, Glesnes has plenty of good seasons ahead of him to place himself in those positions and his future was even more solidified shortly after the season ended with a new multi-year contract extension that will keep him on the books through 2024.
Philadelphia Union co-Defensive Player of the Year
MLS Goal of the Week: Week 8
MLS Team of the Week: Week 4, Week 8, Week 27; Bench: Weeks 6 & 17
MLS Defensive Player of the Year Nominee
Brotherly Game Community Player Ratings Player of the Match: DC United, May 7; Atlanta United, June 20; New England Revolution, September 3