Sambinha - Sporting CP - Close up

The New England Revolution and Sporting Clube de Portugal entered into a strategic partnership back in October 2014, and on Friday the first player transaction between the clubs occurred.

New England have acquired center back Sambinha on loan from the Portuguese giants for the 2016 season. The Revolution have the option to sign the defender permanently at the end of the loan.

Sambinha, whose full name is Mamadu Samba Cande, joined Sporting ahead of the 2013-14 season and has spent the past two and a half seasons playing in Portugal’s Segunda Liga. In that time, Sambinha has scored four goals in 72 appearances. The 23-year-old center back, who has served as Sporting B’s captain, has appeared in 21 of his team’s 25 games this season, starting 19 times and scoring twice while helping the club keep five clean sheets.

“Sambinha is a big, strong center back who impressed both myself and Jay during our recent trip to Lisbon,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a release. “He will be able to help strengthen our defense and we are grateful to be able to work with Sporting in order to add a player of his quality to our roster for the upcoming season.”

Originally born in Cascais, Portugal, Sambinha represents the African nation of Guinea-Bissau internationally, collecting four caps. He made his full international debut on June 13, 2015 in an Africa Cup of Nations 2017 qualifier against Zambia and last played for his country in a World Cup qualifier against Liberia in October 2015.

In October 2014, the Revolution and Sporting entered into a multi-year strategic partnership that is focused on promoting collaboration on training and development methods for the clubs’ first team and academy squads. The agreement also allows for shared scouting resources and the opportunity for players and coaches to spend time training with the other club. As part of this partnership, Revolution players Zachary Herivaux, Sean Okoli and Donnie Smith spent time training with Sporting in Lisbon last month.