Central defender Steven Birnbaum added to his storied D.C. United career on Sunday by breaking the club record for most minutes played in a single reglar season. Birnbaum started in every match for United this year, accumulating 3,060 minutes played across 34 games. In that time, he has maintained his reputation of aerial dominance, helping lead the defense to six shutouts during the regular season and remaining MLS' leader in total clearances, headed clearances, and aerials won. Birnbaum also added two goals, heading home scores at Real Salt Lake in May and New York City FC in September.
This season marks Birnbaum’s fifth consecutive year in which he's started at least 21 matches. The defender began his professional career as a reserve, but made 21 starts in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, he set career highs in appearances, starts, minutes, goals, assists, and shots. He has continued to break his personal records since then, and has served as a cornerstone to the Black-and-Red's defensive line.
Birnbaum, who was United's nominee for MLS Defender of the Year, has played a critical role throughout the regular season and will inevitably have a massive role to play in the Black-and-Red's playoff push. The defender has played in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs three times since being drafted by United, but is looking for his first trophy with the club. With the start of their 2018 postseason run just around the corner, Birnbaum will look to continue his resurgence that saw him put together one of the strongest and most consistent regular season defensive campaigns in all of the league. An experienced veteran who's been there every step of the way for United, Birnbaum hopes the momentum of the team and his personal standout season will help carry the Black-and-Red as deep in the playoffs as possible.