The LA Galaxy officially announced the long-suspected signing of Belgian defender Jelle Van Damme on Tuesday. The club used targeted allocation money for the signing and Van Damme will take one of the team’s international roster spots.
The Galaxy, who officially started preseason camp last Friday, have also been linked to Ashley Cole, 35, and Nigel de Jong, 31, and have 26 of their 28 roster spots filled for the upcoming season. Cole has already been released from his club Roma, while de Jong is still signed with AC Milan until 2018.
Van Damme joins L.A. after captaining Belgian side Standard Liege, where he made 205 appearances since 2011. Although he has played both left and center back, Van Damme will likely play in the middle for the Galaxy, head coach Bruce Arena told LAGalaxy.com, making the 32-year-old the replacement for Omar Gonzalez in the backline.
“He’s got good experience, he passes the ball well and he’s a leader,” Arena said. “I think that he’s a guy that’s suitable to help us strengthen our backline.”
Van Damme’s career includes stops in four different countries (England, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands) and 30 international caps for Belgium.
Of the team’s eight off-season signings so far, five have been over the age of 30. In addition to the Van Damme deal, the Galaxy acquired goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, 33, midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, 32, forward Mike Magee, 31, and re-signed 34-year-old forward Alan Gordon.
The team also signed Galaxy II players Clement Diop, 24, and Daniel Steres, 25, to the roster, in addition to a draft-day deal for 21-year-old Emmanuel Boateng. The Galaxy drafted 22-year-old Georgetown defender Josh Turnley, but have not officially signed the third-round pick.
Before starting the MLS season on March 6 against DC United, the Galaxy face Liga MX side Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Feb. 24 at home and March 1 on the road.