Toronto FC adds former MLS defender of the year Ciman

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Katharine Lotze
The former Montreal Impact and Los Angeles FC man returns to the league after a short stint with Ligue 1 side Dijon

Lauren Ciman is back in Major League Soccer, having signed with Toronto FC, the MLS side announced Thursday.

The 33-year-old Ciman had been playing for FC Dijon in Ligue 1, but will now make the move back to North America.

Having been signed for a transfer fee when he departed MLS this past summer, the center back was subject to the league's allocation order, where expansion club FC Cincinnati originally had the top slot and would have been had first right to sign him.

However, Toronto traded with FC Cincinnati for the top slot in exchange for their second spot and a second round draft pick, allowing them to add Ciman.

“We are excited to add a player with Laurent’s vast experience,” Toronto General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “This is a player who has been a captain of two MLS teams, an All-Star and the Defender of the Year. 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.”

Ciman joined the Montreal Impact in 2015 and featured for the Canadian side for three seasons.

During that stretch, Ciman won the league’s Defender of the Year award in 2015, along with being part of a pair of Impact playoff sides.

The 2016 season saw Ciman and the Impact make the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost out to the defender’s new club, Toronto FC over two legs. He was also part of the squad that made the Concacaf Champions League final in 2015.

Ciman was traded to expansion side LAFC prior to the 2018 season, and performed well for Bob Bradley’s team, starting 22 games and scoring three times.

However, he was not long for Los Angeles, as Ciman was sold to Dijon over the summer, where he would make nine appearances and seven starts this season.

His last appearance for Dijon, which is currently 18th in the Ligue 1 table on 16 points, came when he went the distance in a 2-0 loss to Rennes.

The club later announced the defender had left it via mutual consent.

Prior to arriving in Montreal, Ciman featured for multiple teams in the Belgian top flight, including Charleroi, Club Brugge and Standard Liege.

Ciman has featured for the Belgium national team as well, with his last appearance coming in a pre-World Cup friendly against Egypt in June 2018.

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While Ciman was named to the preliminary roster for the tournament in Russia, he ultimately did not make the final squad.

The defender will be looking to help Toronto rebound after the 2017 MLS Cup Champions and 2016 MLS Cup runners-up failed to make the playoffs this season.

Toronto’s 64 goals conceded was second-worst in the Eastern Conference, as they slumped to just 36 points, missing the postseason by 14 points.

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