LA Galaxy extend Jelle Van Damme contract, making him a DP

The LA Galaxy extended the contract of defender Jelle Van Damme on Wednesday, making the Belgian veteran a designated player for the start of the 2017 season.

Van Damme, who was a finalist for the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year award, will be LA's third DP. Giovani dos Santos and newly signed French winger Romain Alessandrini occupy the Galaxy's other two designated player spots.

"Jelle showed last season that he is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in Major League Soccer," Galaxy GM Pete Vagenas said in a statement. "His contract will still give us the flexibility to bolster our roster during the summer.

"He is a leader, a winner and a competitor and will continue to be a centerpiece along our back line. We are thrilled to have Jelle as a member of the Galaxy for years to come."

Van Damme joined LA last offseason from Belgian side Standard Liege and made $425,000 in base salary last season using targeted allocation money. The new deal will allow LA to spread the TAM around to other players, while shifting Van Damme to a open DP slot.

The Galaxy did not reveal financial terms of Van Damme's new deal, but MLS designated players cost $480,625 against a team's salary cap, with the club picking up any amount over that limit.

He made 29 regular season appearances and started in all three of the Galaxy's playoff matches. The 33-year-old center-back led a Galaxy defense that allowed just 39 goals on the season, tied for the third-fewest in MLS.

After brief spells with Ajax and Southampton, Van Damme played in Belgium with Anderlecht for four seasons. He then played in the Premier League with Wolverhampton for one season before signing with Standard.

He recorded 22 goals with 27 assists for Standard Liege over five seasons.

Van Damme has earned 30 caps for Belgium since 2003 but has not played in either the World Cup or the European Championship.