The Houston Dynamo have signed three-time MLS Cup-winning defender Leonardo, the club announced today. The Dynamo selected him in the second stage of the Major League Soccer Re-Entry Draft on December 22.
Leonardo has seven years of experience in MLS, all with the LA Galaxy after joining that club in 2010 on loan from São Paolo in the Brazilian Campeonato. The 28-year-old won three MLS Cups with the Galaxy and was selected as the club’s Defender of the Year in 2015.
“We are very pleased to welcome Leonardo to our club. He brings seven years of valuable MLS experience to our roster and understands what it takes to win in this league,” said Dynamo Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. “He is in the prime of his career and is a true professional who will provide a steady and reliable presence both on and off the field for our team.”
Leonardo has played in 85 career MLS regular-season matches with 79 starts and has scored two goals. He was a starter throughout LA Galaxy’s 2014 MLS Cup-winning season and started four of the club’s six playoff games that year, including the MLS Cup Final in which he started and went all 120 minutes in LA’s 3-2 extra time victory over New England.
“Leonardo is an excellent central back who was LA Galaxy’s defender of the year in 2015. He’s ready to come to Houston and continue proving himself in this league,” said Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. “He is an experienced defender who is excellent in 1v1 situations, he’s strong in the air, and he can play at either left center back or right center back. He’s been playing for seven years with a consistent playoff contender, winning 3 MLS Cups, so we’re bringing in someone who has experience, leadership, talent and is still at a very good age.”
Born in São Paolo, Leonardo rose through the youth ranks with his hometown club after joining them in 2001 at age 13. He helped lead São Paolo to the championship of the Super Group in the prestigious Dallas Cup in 2007, defeating clubs such as Real Madrid and Chelsea on the way to the title. In 2008, he was a member of the first team as they captured the Campeonato championship. Leonardo represented his home country at the youth international level, playing with the Under-16 and Under-17 national teams in 2004.
Leonardo was the second player selected by the Dynamo in the Re-Entry Draft, and the second defender. Houston selected defender Dylan Remick in the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft on December 16. With this addition, the Houston Dynamo now have 20 players on the roster for 2017. He is the sixth player to join the Dynamo roster since the conclusion of the season, following forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto, midfielder Juan David Cabezas, and defenders Adolfo Machado and Remick.
Although he was born in Brazil, Leonardo is a naturalized United States citizen and thus does not count as an International player on the Dynamo roster under MLS rules. With nearly a decade of experience in American soccer, Leonardo is fluent in English as well as his native Portuguese.
TRANSACTION: Houston Dynamo sign defender Leonardo after having drafted him in the second stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft.
Full name: José Leonardo Ribeiro da Silva
Birth Date: February 5, 1988
Birthplace: São Paolo, Brazil
Previous club: LA Galaxy