Jelle Van Damme - LA Galaxy - plays a cross vs. the Colorado Rapids

The LA Galaxy signed defender Jelle Van Damme to a contract extension on Wednesday, making the Belgian veteran a Designated Player for the start of the 2017 season.


One of the finalists for the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year award, Van Damme will be the third DP on LA’s roster. Giovani dos Santos and newly-signed Frenchman Romain Alessandrini occupy the Galaxy’s other two Designated Player spots.


“Jelle showed last season that he is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in Major League Soccer,” Galaxy GM Pete Vagenas said in a statement released by the club. “His contract will still give us the flexibility to bolster our roster during the summer. He is a leader, a winner and a competitor and will continue to be a centerpiece along our backline. We are thrilled to have Jelle as a member of the Galaxy for years to come.”


Van Damme joined LA last offseason from Belgian side Standard Liege and went on to make 29 regular season appearances before starting all three of the Galaxy’s playoff matches. The 33-year-old center back led a Galaxy defense that allowed just 39 goals on the season, tied for the third-fewest in MLS.


Prior to signing with the Galaxy, Van Damme had spent most of his career in Belgium, most notably with Standard Liege, whom he captained and made 205 appearances for after joining the team in 2011. He also played with Belgian club Germinal Beerschot, Dutch giants Ajax, German side Werder Bremen and English teams Southampton and Wolverhampton. He has 30 career caps with the Belgium national team.