The LA Galaxy entered Wednesday with one vacant Designated Player slot, and they ended up filling it with one of their own.
The Galaxy announced on Wednesday that signed centerback Jelle Van Damme to a contract extension that made him a DP. Van Damme, 33, is the third Designated Player on the Galaxy’s roster and the second one signed in as many days after Tuesday’s acquisition of French midfielder Romain Alessandrini.
“Jelle showed last season that he is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in Major League Soccer,” said Galaxy general manager Peter Vagenas in a statement released by the club. “His contract will still give us the flexibility to bolster our roster during the summer. He is a leader, a winner and a competitor and will continue to be a centerpiece along our backline. We are thrilled to have Jelle as a member of the Galaxy for years to come.”
Vagenas stating that Van Damme’s new deal gives the club flexibility to further bolster the Galaxy’s squad during MLS’s secondary transfer window seems to imply that the Belgian’s cap hit can be brought down with Targeted Allocation Money. The Galaxy have been linked with signing fellow Designated Player Giovani dos Santos’ brother, Jonathan.
Van Damme was one of the best defenders during his debut MLS season in 2016. He played in 29 games during the regular season and delivered four assists en route to being named to the league’s Best XI.
GRELLA OUT 2-4 WEEKS AFTER KNEE SURGERY
Mike Grella has become a question mark for the New York Red Bulls’ looming CONCACAF Champions League matches and MLS season opener.
The Red Bulls announced on Wednesday that Grella had successful surgery on his left knee on Monday and is going to be out of action for 2-4 weeks. The timeline of Grella’s return makes him a doubt for this month’s CCL quarterfinals series against the Vancouver Whitecaps, and the Red Bulls’ season opener against Atlanta United on March 5.
The 30-year-old Grella has been a regular started for the Red Bulls during the past two seasons. He scored seven goals and had six assists in 32 regular-season matches in 2016.
CHEYROU RE-SIGNS WITH TORONTO FC
Benoit Cheyrou’s time with Toronto FC is not over yet.
Toronto FC announced on Wednesday that it was bringing back Cheyrou for the 2017 season after signing the Frenchman to a new contract. The club had declined Cheyrou’s option for the upcoming campaign in December, but the two sides were able to hammer out a deal that ensured the 35-year-old midfielder would play for Toronto FC for a third consecutive year.
“Benoit has been an important player for Toronto FC over the past two seasons, and he is part of our core group,” said Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko in a written statement. “His wealth of experience has helped us throughout the season in both the regular season and playoffs in what was a historic year for the club. We are very excited to bring him back to Toronto FC.”
In 2016, Cheyrou recorded two assists in 14 regular-season appearances. He helped the club reach the MLS Cup Final.