LAFC lands Honduran defender Denil Maldonado

Honduran defender Denil Maldonado has joined the Los Angeles Football Club defensive corps.

LAFC announced on Thursday that it signed the 24-year-old center back on loan for the upcoming Major League Soccer season, with an option for a permanent transfer from CD Motagua, a Honduran club located in the Central American country’s capital city of Tegucigalpa.

Maldonado, a regular for the Honduran national team, will be added to the LAFC roster using an international roster spot pending the receipt of his transfer certificate and P-1 visa. He appeared in nine World Cup qualifying matches with Honduras this year, and has three matches in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics included among his 21 caps.

In a statement, LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington held Maldonado up as “a strong, talented defender with considerate international experience and has captained teams to success. He will provide great versatility and quality to our strong back line.”

Following the free-agent departure of Sebastien Ibeagha, who played 1,183 minutes during the 2022 regular season and the entirety of the MLS Cup final, Maldonado is among six central defenders currently available to contribute on one of the stingiest units in the league.

Regardless of the combinations of central defenders on the field, LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo could generally count on them playing stout en route to the team’s first MLS championship last year.

Mamadou Fall’s loan to Spain’s Villareal concludes in the summer and he is likely to return to L.A. at that time. And re-signing Eddie Segura, a free agent after four years in Black & Gold, remains a priority for the club.

Maldonado is the third Honduran to join LAFC after goalkeeper Luis Lopez and defender Andy Najar. In addition to his goal-denying ability, the 5-foot-10 defender brings a strong, opportunistic presence in the opponent’s box with his head.

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LAFC is the third club to which Maldonado has been loaned by Motagua. In 2020, he joined Mexico’s C.F. Pachuca, which was led by current LAFC director of football operations Marco Antonio Garcés. The following year, Maldonado played with CD Everton Chile’s first division.

Motagua is a three-time champion in Honduras’s highest division, participating in three CONCACAF Champions League matches among 116 appearances for his hometown side over the past four years.

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