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Finnish-American defender Niko Hamalainen joins LAFC camp

Youngster on books at Queens Park Rangers.

Staines Town v Queens Park Rangers - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

One brand new name that emerged in Los Angeles Football Club’s training camp was Niko Hamalainen, who entered LAFC’s preseason friendly in the second half on Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Hamalainen is 21 years old, variously described as a defender and midfielder around the internet. Currently on the first team at English Championship side Queens Park Rangers, he hasn’t found much playing time and vague rumors have pegged him to a loan in MLS. His QPR teammate, Giles Phillips, is reportedly going on loan to the New England Revolution.

Continuing a trend for LAFC this offseason, Hamalainen is Finnish-American. He was born and raised in Florida, with his father a former pro who moved to the United States for his post-playing days. Hamalainen is already a Finnish international, getting his first cap last month in a friendly against Estonia.

The strategy for LAFC has been clear: The team is looking for promising dual nationals, players who are projects for the future but bring European experience while also holding U.S. citizenship or residency. Hamalainen fits that clearly.

A handful of players have come to MLS from England on loans, so that seems quite possible, but no official word yet from LAFC. He may be in the trial phase at this point, so we’ll see what happens. But with the season coming in just over two weeks, the youngster may get a coveted roster spot with the black-and-gold. Stay tuned.

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