Laurent Ciman

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Toronto FC sign ex-Montreal, LAFC captain Laurent Ciman

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Laurent Ciman is back in MLS, after a four-month stint with Ligue 1 side Dijon, after a six-month stint with expansion side Los Angeles FC, after an unwanted trade away from Montreal Impact last December.

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The 2015 MLS Defender of the Year — and three-time All-Star — signed with Toronto FC, where he’ll be expected to shore up the Reds’ greatest weakness — and reason they missed the playoffs in 2018 — on Thursday. Ciman’s contract with Dijon was terminated earlier this week.

The 2017 MLS Cup winners moved up to the top spot in the allocation order, via trade (in exchange for the no. 2 spot in the allocation order and a second-round SuperDraft pick) with 2019 expansion side Cincinnati FC, to land the 33-year-old Belgian center back.

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“This is a player who has been a captain of two MLS teams, an All-Star and the Defender of the Year,” TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a press release. “He is an excellent passer, an organizer in the back and a passionate, fiery competitor. We look forward to him joining our club immediately and becoming an important part of our group.”

Not only will Ciman be an instant upgrade to TFC’s defensive ranks, but it’s his ability to pass the ball out of the back that will impact multiple facets of play in 2019. For all of TFC’s struggles in 2018 — and there were plenty of them — Ciman is the perfect answer to a number of them.

Laurent Ciman leaves LAFC for Ligue 1

Twitter/@LesoirSports
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After nearly four years in Major League Soccer, Laurent Ciman is set to take on a new challenge back in Europe.

Los Angeles FC announced on Tuesday that Ciman will be leaving the club to join Ligue 1 outfit Dijon FC.

The 33-year-old arrived in Los Angeles this offseason from the Montreal Impact in a major trade that helped give the expansion side a lift defensively in their first MLS season.

Since joining MLS, Ciman was named an MLS All Star in three seasons in the U.S., as well as winning MLS Defender of the Year back in 2015.

Ciman released the following statement via social media on Tuesday following the news breaking over the weekend.

WATCH: LAFC open brand new stadium with stoppage-time winner

Photo credit: LAFC / Twitter: @LAFC
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It seemed to take forever, but Los Angeles FC got there in the end — no, not their arrival to MLS in 2018, nor Sunday’s debut of Banc of California Stadium following a six-game road trip to start their expansion season.

[ MORE: Atlanta’s unbeaten run reaches 7; TFC implode vs. Chicago ]

The first goal. The first eruption to celebrate the first goal. The first win. The first three points.

For 92 minutes, Sunday’s clash with the Seattle Sounders felt destined for an anticlimactic ending: neither side threatened the other too terribly much, and 0-0 seemed a foregone conclusion. In truth, the severely shorthanded Sounders were the better of the two sides, perhaps the nerves and expectations of the big day were a bit much for LAFC.

Then, in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, it happened. Laurent Ciman laced a 30-yard free kick around a four-man wall and into the typically reliable, waiting arms of Stefan Frei. Only this time, Frei produced a spectacular howler.

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The victory sends LAFC second in the Western Conference, just two points behind Sporting Kansas City (and with two games in hand), and gives Bob Bradley‘s side a three-game winning streak as they look ahead to the rest of their four-game home stand to begin life at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC erase 2-goal deficits to beat Montreal in 8-goal thriller

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): LAFC are, by definition, an expansion team; they are, to the eye, also very much an expansion team, in that they experience drastic mood swings from one game to the next and, on a number of occasions already this season, from one half to the next — or, as evidenced in Saturday’s 5-3 win over Montreal Impact, one 15-minute period to the next. 2-0 down after 16 minutes, Larent Ciman wanted the ground to open up and swallow him whole as his return to Montreal wasn’t going so swimmingly. The Belgian proceeded to score a stunning free kick eight minutes later. Montreal went down to 10 men and Evan Bush saved a penalty in the 33rd minute. Ignacio Piatti completed his hat trick on 43 minutes to restore the two-goal lead. LAFC score four second-half goals to run away with all three points, racking up 26 shots (18 of which were on target) in the process. Through two games this weekend, MLS has seen 14 goals scored.

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Three Four moments that mattered

24′ — Ciman’s free kick just about bursts through the back of the net — If not for the net, this ball continues to slowly rise until it cross the U.S.-Canada border and begins to orbit the planet in outer space.

43′ — Piatti smashes past Miller for 3-1 — Piatti takes his hat trick with aplomb, letting the ball bounce across his body before pulling it back across the face of goal and just inside the far post.

52′ — Feilhaber picks out the top corner for 3-2 — The comeback is on… again.

83′ — Vela bags the winner from the spot — Bush denied Marco Ureña from the spot in the first half, and so nearly did it again in the 83rd, but Carlos Vela’s effort crept over the line to make it 4-3.

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Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Piatti (9′, 16′, 43′), Ciman (24′), Feilhaber (52′), Raitala (57′ – OG), Vela (83′ – PK), Blessing (89′)

LA FC continues active offseason with addition of Laurent Ciman

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP
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It seems like Major League Soccer’s latest expansion team is taking a page out of Atlanta United’s playbook in its buildup to the 2018 season.

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After selecting five players in Tuesday’s MLS Expansion Draft, Los Angeles FC announced that it will be sending two of those players to the Montreal Impact.

LA FC will be sending Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards to the Impact.

The return? Bob Bradley and LA FC will acquire Impact center back Laurent Ciman — who has proven to be one of the best defenders in MLS since arriving in 2015.

“Laurent is a top defender who provides leadership and great distribution,” Bradley said upon acquiring Ciman. “His experience in the league and with the Belgian National Team will be invaluable as we build our club.”

With the addition of Ciman now in place, LA FC has built a strong central defensive partnership after the club also brought in former FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman in a trade on Sunday.

The expansion side already made a major splash with its first Designated Player signing this year, bringing in Mexican international Carlos Vela.