LAFC’s New Kids on the Block: Defenders

Focusing on bringing in new backline reserves this season was mission critical. Yesterday’s match against an assertive Sporting Kansas City put one of the new faces through his paces. Eddie Segura is on loan from Atlético Huila with a purchase option after 6 months. The 22-year-old centre-back identifies with Colombian players like Ivan Ramiro Córdoba and Davinson Sanchez. He’s focused on developing their solid and safe reputations, knowing all too well that his lack of height (he’s 5’ 9”) can be viewed as a negative. But he makes up for it in power, speed and an aerial game. He’s also looking off the field for expansion by working towards his Business Administration degree. And, in just one regular season match where he played the full 90 minutes, it all came together as his level of confidence grew minute by minute. When asked what he thought of Segura’s debut, Bradley was encouraging. “He’s alert. He plays cover for people. His passing gets better each week. What I saw from Eddie today was no surprise. He’s one of those guys that shows up and just has a positive way about him, takes in information, ideas. He’s learning English quickly but even without understanding everything he understands football. He’s such a bright guy in the way he carries himself, trains. It’s so easy for all his teammates to see that every day.”

A few other newcomers join Segura. Lamar Batista is one of the newest signings by LAFC, just coming onboard less than two weeks ago. After one year at University of California Santa Barbara, he was signed on by the Portland Timbers USL team, working up to make an appearance for their MLS side in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup. He’s got the potential to add depth as one of LAFC’s centre-backs.

26-year-old leftback Mohamed El-Munir has come a long way from Tripoli via the Serbian SuperLiga where he played for FK Partizan Belgrade. He also spent time in the Belarusian Premier League. His experiences in UEFA’s Europa League are expected help to cement his ability to compete under high pressure situations. He joins LAFC after being traded from Orlando City SC in December 2018.

Niko Hämäläinen is here on a 6 month loan from Queens Park Rangers. The Finnish-American 21-year-old has spent the past 4.5 years as a left-back at QPR, helping them along the way to promotion into the Premier League and has played for the Finnish U-21 team. He’s got soccer in his blood. His father was also a professional player in Finland.

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