8.1.2017, 2:15 p.m. – Jelle Van Damme hasn’t been very quiet at the all-star game. The 33-year old Belgian defender seems to be ready to leave the LA Galaxy after a little more than a year and a half with the club.
MLSSoccer.com’s Charles Boehm spoke to Van Damme while he was in Chicago preparing for Wednesday night’s All-Star game against Real Madrid. During that interview, Van Damme makes his case for why he would leave the Galaxy.
“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.” Jelle Van Damme speaking to Charles Boehm
Van Damme goes on to say that he should be able to say more in the next few days. Which of course will leave Galaxy fans sitting on the edge of their seats.
But his comments are pretty clear — Van Damme seems to be preparing everyone for his rapid departure.
He will be suspended for the club’s next two games (at Portland, vs NYCFC). So if you’d like to see Van Damme play soccer in the United States, Wednesday now looks as though it might be your last chance.
If you thought the LA Galaxy were going to quietly live out the rest of the summer transfer window without being drawn into any more rumors or reports, then you haven’t been paying attention. And this one could have a significant impact on the club.
According to Belgium’s HLN, Galaxy captain, Jelle Van Damme has been offered a two-year contract with Antwerp. The report goes on to state that Antwerp Sporting Director Luciano D’Onofrio had already made a “concrete” offer in a bid to reunite the Van Damme with his family – a bid that supposedly took place last week.
Van Damme left his children back in Belgium when he agreed to join the Galaxy. Although they’ve visited his Hollywood home in recent weeks according to his Instagram page.
The reports state that a solution to everyone’s problems would be to bring Van Damme back to Belgium, and Antwerp, where the Galaxy center-back would move to his preferred role as a left back.
However, speaking to a source with knowledge of the situation, Corner of the Galaxy has been told that the Galaxy would be unlikely to part with Van Damme before the season is over.
Van Damme received a raise for his outstanding performance last year when he made $468,750. He played in 28 games for the Galaxy and was a finalist for MLS Defender of the year – and should’ve been voted the Galaxy’s MVP.
In 2017, his Galaxy salary was reported as $662,500 — an increase of $193,750. But it’s expected that the increase did not extend his contract and that the 33-year old defender will see his contract up at the end of this season.
The deal comes at a time when the Galaxy have just fired head coach Curt Onalfo and immediately replaced him with Sigi Schmid. The club sits in ninth place in the Western Conference – seven points from a playoff position.
Van Damme most recently played in the Galaxy’s 0-0 draw with the Seattle Sounders where he picked up two yellow cards that lead to a red card ejection. He was already on accumulation warning entering the match, and will subsequently miss the next two games (at Portland, vs NYCFC) – one for the yellow card accumulation and one for the red card.
He has played in 18 games this year and amassed over 1,500 minutes while scoring once and assisting once.
But there has been a noticeable drop in form this year as he’s been prone to mistakes of marking and staying engaged in the game. He was benched in the first half of a 2-2 draw against the Chicago Fire by for disciplinary reasons and may have been one of the dissenting veteran voices in a locker room that wasn’t thrilled with their former coach.
However, the Galaxy may want to hold onto the towering center back as a push for the playoffs is not out of the question. Especially when rumors of Ashley Cole and his possible interest in a move to Birmingham City are still circulating. Cole’s contract is also expected to expire at the end of this season.
But if the Galaxy organization is to hold true to some of their historical principles, they’re probably best off letting Van Damme head back to his family. Bruce Arena was always able to garner respect from players because of how he treated them in situations just like this. If the player doesn’t want to be with the Galaxy, holding on isn’t going to help the situation. This Galaxy front office might want to do the same.
Could Van Damme have played his last game as a member of the Galaxy? It wouldn’t be wise to count that possibility out – not the way this season has gone.
2:45 P.M. – Added that the galaxy were unlikely to part with Van Damme before the end of the season – from a source with knowledge of the situation.