The 2017 season continues to punch LA Galaxy fans right in the gut.
With the club near the basement of the Western Conference standings, the LA Galaxy have officially announced the sale of defensive rock Jelle van Damme to Royal Antwerp of the Belgian top flight. The club confirmed a transfer fee of $235,000.
While van Damme is 33 years old, the sale of fan-favorite van Damme is still a blow both on and off the pitch. With the Galaxy in a period of transition, van Damme was a likeable personality who was known for leaving it all out on the field on gamedays.
The official news release of the transfer made it clear the club did not initiate the transfer with the intention to sell, but instead the player himself requested a return home as his career comes nearer to a close. Van Damme is from Lokeren, Belgium, a town between Antwerp and Ghent.
“Jelle came to us and requested to return home to Belgium to be closer to his children,” LA Galaxy General Manager Pete Vagenas told LAGalaxy.com. “We worked closely with Jelle and Royal Antwerp so that we could make this move possible for Jelle and his family. Our top priority remains the success of the LA Galaxy. We thank him for his time with our club and wish him the best going forward.”
Van Damme joined the Galaxy in early 2016 on a free transfer from Belgian giants Standard Liege. He made 55 total appearances across all competitions, including 46 in league play and another three in the playoffs. The defender’s contract was set to expire in December.
The team has taken a total nosedive in the last two months. Without a league win since June 21st against Colorado, the Galaxy have collected just a single point in league play, and they currently sit just a point off the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Reports from overseas say LA Galaxy All-Star defender Jelle van Damme may be leaving the club to return home to Belgium.
Van Damme reportedly has a two-year contract offer from Royal Antwerp, which boasted a home draw against Anderlecht in this weekend’s league opener.
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The big 6-foot-3 defender joined the Galaxy in 2016 and has made 55 appearances for the club. He was sent-off late Saturday versus Seattle, his third red card of the season (all for two yellows).
UPDATE: MLSSoccer.com has quotes from Van Damme, who admits he’s home sick:
“If I think about myself, I’m good in LA. If I think about my kids, I just want to go back,” he explained. “I know it got all in the press in Belgium and the clubs in Belgium know my situation, my team knows the situation – [LA] always respected my situation and they helped me out wherever they could. But I feel the second year is getting harder and harder.”
Van Damme, 33, has 31 caps for Belgium and is well-traveled in club soccer, having played for Standard Liege, Ajax, and Anderlecht amongst several other stops.
His absence would be a big one for LA, which had just made a huge splash in acquiring Jonathan dos Santos from Villarreal after upgrading its attack with Romain Alessandrini in the offseason.
Dives from David Guzman and Diego Chara gave us a hilarious video, some heat for the LA Galaxy media team, and Jelle van Damme a red card, but the league repercussions will be minimal for the Timbers pair.
Van Damme’s suspension remains for his pair of yellows against Portland, although Chara has been fined for embellishing before the first offense — given to Van Damme for dissent toward Toledo — and Guzman hurt his ankle doing the same on the second.
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If you think that doesn’t make much sense, you have company in Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo.
“It was clear that he didn’t make contact with either of them,” Onalfo told reporters. “It’s unfortunate, but he didn’t make contact. It was crystal clear on the replay, but it’s unfortunate.”
The only argument for punishment is to stand with referee Baldomero Toledo’s post-match account that Van Damme’s tackle interfered with the flow of play even if he didn’t make contact with Guzman (an argument that is pretty self-protective from a longtime MLS ref).
We can’t help but look at the photo above and think Toledo had a bit of ire in his mind for Van Damme. Shoulder-shrug emoji, we guess.
Props to the LA Galaxy for their witty social media post on Monday. Unfortunately, it might spell the end for Major League Soccer clubs posting similar content.
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According to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, MLS is looking into the Galaxy’s Twitter video that was aimed at the Portland Timbers and officiating from Sunday’s 1-0 defeat against the Cascadia club.
The video currently has over 27,000 retweets on Twitter and an additional 40,000 likes.
Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme was sent off in the first half after picking up two yellow cards within a three-minute span. Both decisions were heavily scrutinized after replays showed Diego Chara and David Guzman likely dove during their encounters with the LA central defender.
However, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson saw no harm in the post, stating that he did not inform the league to investigate the situation.
Additionally, PRO referees chief Peter Walton said that he had viewed the post and didn’t have the intention getting involved.
In the event you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the Galaxy’s clever video.
When you can’t get even, at least thoroughly embarrass your opponent through the power of social media.
The LA Galaxy team have possibly produced the funniest sports team directed video on record after a pair of Portland flops sent LA captain Jelle van Damme to showers.
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Referee Baldomero Toledo was fooled by the diving of Diego Chara and David Guzman on Sunday. In Guzman’s case, he actually injured his leg in the process of embellishment.
The yellows sent LA down a man, and the Galaxy was unable to comeback from a 1-0 deficit. But holy moly, is this funny. “Star Wars” and “Top Gun” make appearances.
This is why @LAGalaxy is one of the best Twitter follows in the game.