Graphic courtesy of the LA Galaxy

SIGNING: Leerdam joins galaxy as more than just depth

Defender Kelvin Leerdam is the first signing of 2022 for the LA Galaxy and he’s in a spot that could see him play a bigger role than just a backup.

CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy announced the signing of 31-year-old Kelvin Leerdam on Thursday morning. Leerdam, a right-back who spent his 2020 season with Inter Miami and who has spent a total of five seasons in MLS since joining the league in 2017 with the Seattle Sounders.

Leerdam and the Galaxy agreed to a two-year contract, with a single option year, which could keep the Surinamian national team player in Los Angeles through the 2024 season. And according to the MLS Players Association, he earned $180,000 in base salary with Miami in 2021.

“Kelvin is an experienced, championship-winning player, and we are pleased to bring him to our club,” said LA Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney. “His quality provides more depth and versatility to our roster, and we look forward to him playing an important role in the team.”

But Leerdam comes into the Galaxy backing up the club’s most sought-after prospect in Julian Araujo, and with enough playoff and league experience to make his addition more than just “depth.”

He has 120 regular-season games played, 102 starts, and nearly 9,000 minutes in MLS. He’s also appeared in 14 postseason games with 11 starts, scored the first goal en route to the Sounders’ 2019 MLS Cup, and won the Western Conference Championship in 2017, 2019, and 2020.

He played in 29 regular-season games – starting 18 times and registered a single assist in his defensive role. But he also has significant international experience playing his first nine seasons as a professional with Feyenoord and SBV Vitesse in the Eredivisie (2008-13).

And with Araujo’s future with the club expected to be measured in months and not years, Leerdam could be the experienced player that gets the starts while national team call-ups for Araujo take place. But also in the likelihood that Araujo gets sold to the highest bidder this summer or next winter.

“We are excited to add Kelvin’s experience and winning mentality to our team, and we believe he will integrate quickly into our group,” said LA Galaxy Technical Director Jovan Kirovski.

That “group” currently consists of 22 players out of 30 total roster spots, with the Galaxy reporting to preseason camp for physicals on January 15. The season will kick-off for the Galaxy in 52 days against defending MLS Cup Champions New York City FC.

Leerdam is expected to be in camp when the Galaxy start and will not take up an international slot for the club as he holds a green card. The Galaxy have seven of eight spots currently filled with the expectation that one of those seven spots will be freed up with the addition of another green card being received.