LAFC addressed a critical need in their squad ahead of the transfer deadline this week, announcing on Friday they have acquired defender Sebastien Ibeagha from New York City FC in exchange for $150,000 in general allocation money, with the potential to send over $50,000 more if certain incentives are met.
Ibeagha, 29, spent the last two-and-a-half years with NYCFC, making 64 appearances for the Cityzens.
“Sebastien is a key acquisition for us at this stage of the season,” said LAFC Co-President & General Manager John Thorrington in a team statement. “With his experience, we believe he will be a great fit and is an important addition to our club.”
LAFC have been teetering this season in defensive terms, with the team’s actual defensive statistics being pretty decent, but the club conceding late goals time and again, to lead MLS in dropped points this season. That was compounded by the season-ending injury to Eddie Segura last month, and with fellow center back Jesus David Murillo currently also out injured, albeit hopefully for a far shorter period, LAFC are suddenly tissue-paper thin in central defense.
Ibeagha is a savvy pickup, then, because he has considerable experience but has gone back and forth between being a starter and reserve in MLS. After playing college soccer at Duke, he turned pro in 2013 with Danish side AC Horsens, taking a loan spell to clubs in Denmark and Iceland in that span. He signed with the Houston Dynamo, the club where he played in the academy as a youth player, in 2016, but somehow never made an MLS appearance for them, instead playing on loan in the USL at Rio Grande Valley FC and in the NASL at Rayo OKC. In 2017, he signed for another club, San Antonio FC, and was named USL Defender of the Year. He leveraged that into his deal with NYCFC, and now he’s an LAFC player.
In other words, he’s paid his dues while also sporting a good amount of MLS experience for a good side. At the same time, if his contract runs beyond this season, he likely won’t sulk if he becomes more of a backup once Segura is healthy and available to play again.
Obviously we’ll have to see how Ibeagha fits in LAFC’s system, but I expect he’ll slot into the starting lineup pretty quickly and will play major minutes over the second half of the season. On paper, this is a smart move, and we’ll just have to see how the player adjusts to being part of the black-and-gold.
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