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Orange County SC sign MLS veteran defender Leonardo

Brazilian returns to Southern California to bolster defense.

Courtesy of Orange County SC.

Orange County SC announced on Tuesday they have signed Brazilian defender Leonardo. The 31-year-old joins the USL Championship outfit after nine years in MLS.

The center back first came stateside in 2010, and played for the LA Galaxy from 2010-16, winning three MLS Cups in his time there. He tore his ACL early in the 2011 season, and missed all of the 2012 season with injuries, but was a steady contributor in 2014 and 2015.

In 2017, he moved to the Houston Dynamo, and was a regular the last two seasons there, helping the club win the 2018 U.S. Open Cup.

The Sao Paulo native got his professional start at the club of the same name, but has played nearly his entire career in the United States.

“I couldn’t be happier that we have come to terms with Leonardo! He is a top notch professional both on and off the field,” said OCSC head coach Braeden Cloutier in a statement. “He will be a fantastic addition to our team and back line.”

“I am very happy and thankful to be here at Orange County SC,” said Leonardo. “This club has grown so much over the past few years and I am looking forward to winning a championship here. I would like to thank Orange County for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”

The signing of the center back fills a need on the roster, as they entered the season with just one pure center back, Walker Hume. He started the season opener on Saturday at Reno 1868 alongside Joe Amico, who has played primarily as a fullback. In the end, OCSC came back to draw Reno 2-2, and if Leonardo can get into match fitness quickly, that should boost the backline considerably.

Orange County will hold their home opener on Saturday against Tulsa Roughnecks.

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