Galaxy sell captain Van Damme to Royal Antwerp

Jelle Van Damme MLS LA Galaxy 03122017
Kirby Lee
The defender returns to Belgium after the MLS side granted his request to be closer to his family

The LA Galaxy have sold defender Jelle Van Damme to Royal Antwerp F.C. in Belgium’s top division, the MLS side announced Friday.

The Galaxy received a transfer fee of $235,000, obliging a request by the defender to return to Europe to be closer to family.

“Jelle came to us and requested to return home to Belgium to be closer to his children,” LA Galaxy general manager Pete Vagenas said in a press release. “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.”

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The 33-year-old center back had been a key acquisition for the Galaxy after joining the club from Standard Liege before the start of the 2016 season. Van Damme went on to make 46 appearances for the Galaxy in his time there. He was named to the MLS Best XI for last season, finished as a finalist for the league’s Defender of the Year award, and was a two time MLS all-star.

Van Damme was also named the Galaxy’s captain for the 2017 season.

It is a difficult loss for the Galaxy, who sit in ninth place in the Western Conference with just 23 points from 23 games played. They are nine points out of a playoff spot.