Defender Thomas Vancaeyezeele joins the Legion

More defensive strength

In what was perhaps a surprising move, the Legion announced Thursday the acquisition of Thomas Vancaeyezeele from San Diego Loyal for cash. Further details of the transaction were not released, but San Diego head coach stated that the offer was “too good to turn down”, so it was clearly a fair price. For what it’s worth, the Transfermarkt website sets his value at at $330,000, but they are often wildly wrong.

The 26-year-old Vancaeyezeele holds French Guianan nationality although he was born and grew up in Caen, France. He worked his way through the local team’s academy system before becoming something of a world traveler. He played briefly in Spain before moving to the US in 2015 to play for the University of Charleston, at the same time also playing first for SW Florida Adrenaline and then Mississippi Brilla, both of the Premier Development League (now USL 2).

On graduation from Charleston he was projected a high MLS SuperDraft pick in 2018, but was eventually passed over. He signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and played three seasons and 88 games for them and getting named to the 2020 All-League First Team. He joined San Diego at the beginning of this season and played 7 games for the Loyal before going on international duty in the CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers, which ended for French Guiana this past Tuesday.

His arrival bolsters an already more than solid Birmingham defense. A top performer, he is clearly more than a temporary replacement for Zach Herivaux, who remains on international duty with Haiti in the Gold Cup. As a former Riverhound, he also is more than familiar with Ryan James especially as well as Neco Brett and so will have an immediate connection. Simply put, the Legion is stacked at the back. And they are going to be rested, as squad rotation just got a lot easier. This is yet another indication that the team’s front office is very serious about making a very deep run this year.

Oh, and as far as I can tell, his name is pronounced van-cay-a-zell. But with a French accent.

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