Thanks for playing, Los Angeles Galaxy.
One year before LAFC comes to town, the Galaxy have seemingly given up on the 2017 season with nearly a third of their fixtures remaining. The club announced captain and stalwart defender Jelle Van Damme was sold to Antwerp F.C. for $235,000 on Friday.
Van Damme, 33, reportedly wanted to return to his native Belgium to be closer to his children after a divorcing his wife Elke Clijsters, a former tennis player and sister of more successful tennis player Kim Clijsters.
Having made 46 appearances in two years with the Galaxy, Van Damme’s bald dome became one of the most vital parts of the team, earning the captain’s armband as well as two all-star nods. The journeyman defender has played for Ajax, Southampton, Werder Bremen, Anderlecht and Wolverhampton while making 30 appearances with the Belgian national team.
Thank you, Jelle Van Damme pic.twitter.com/yZmoRihe5n— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 18, 2017
By shipping off one of their best players with a third of the season remaining, L.A. appears to be waving the white flag, admitting this is a lost season. The Galaxy already fired coach Curt Onalfo to bring in veteran Sigi Schmid in July, but the move has produced one point in three matches.
Only DC United has fewer wins than L.A., which astonishingly has one home win all season. One would expect more from a roster featuring Jermaine Jones, Ashley Cole, Giovani Dos Santos, Gyasi Zardes and the newly acquired Jonathan Dos Santos.
The Galaxy are nine points behind San Jose for the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference and their five road wins are tied for the most. With 11 matches left there’s plenty of football to be played, but it seems clear the club is already looking toward next year.
LAFC, which has signed striker Carlos Vela and coach Bob Bradley, is going to try its best to bring it in its expansion season. The Galaxy have a lot of work to do if they don’t want to be overtaken in LAFC’s first season.