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NYCFC sign 2017 USL Defender of the Year

USL standout Sebastien Ibeagha lands an MLS contract.

Darren Abate/USL

After spending most of the preseason as a trialist, center back Sebastien Ibeagha has been signed by New York City FC for the 2018 season, the club announced Tuesday. Terms of the deal, classified as a transfer, were not disclosed.

Ibeagha spent 2017 with NYCFC’s USL affiliate, San Antonio FC, where he shined as a captain of one of the league’s best defensive units, and was named USL Defender of the Year. Prior to his season with San Antonio, the Texas native spent 2016 signed to a contract with the Houston Dynamo. The defender never made an appearance with the MLS side however, instead spending the season on loan to USL affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC Toros and now-defunct Rayo OKC of NASL infamy.

Ibeagha helped San Antonio FC to a league-best 15 clean sheets, clocking 2,700 minutes in 30 matches. He racked up a pair of assists and led the USL in clearances with 190.

The 26 year old is a versatile defender, with the size to stand strong in the penalty area but the ball control to confidently begin a counter-attack himself. He isn’t likely to challenge for a starting role out of the gate, but he showed in the preseason that he is a capable replacement should his number be called.

“I like the way Sebastien trained, he showed a lot of character, he’s physically very strong and his tactical knowledge is very interesting,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira told NYCFC.com. “Of course there is room for him to improve himself but I’m not worried about that because he’s a quick learner and he’s somebody who asks a lot of questions; who wants to improve.”