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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Jelle van Damme to leave LA Galaxy, return to Belgium for personal reasons

Rookie Jonathan Lewis and veteran David Villa netted stunning goals to give visiting NYCFC a 2-0 victory over the LA Galaxy.

Jelle van Damme is set to leave the LA Galaxy to return to Belgium for personal reasons, club president Chris Klein has confirmed.

Belgian news outlet HLN and the Los Angeles Times both reported on Wednesday that the 33-year-old was on the verge of signing a two-year contract with Royal Antwerp.

Klein told "Soccer Weekly" on ESPNLA 710 that the defender wanted to be with his two children and suggested the situation had affected his play this season.

"Jelle has made it clear that he wants to go home for personal reasons, and he misses his kids," Klein said. "So we're still working through it.

"It's not an ideal situation for us, for Jelle, but there are things when in your personal life that affect your play on the field, and we've certainly seen that at different times with Jelle this year.

"Inconsistency for us in the back has been a big problem, and I think he's been suspended for portions of eight of our games."

Jordan Smith & Jelle Van Damme
Jelle van Damme will not see out the season with the LA Galaxy.

Klein, a former Galaxy midfielder, then highlighted a number of global situations this summer where players have pushed their clubs for transfers.

"It's never a good situation," he said, "but as they say this is football, and you look around the world, you look at what's happening with Liverpool -- Coutinho -- what happened with Neymar, what's happened with [Diego] Costa at Chelsea, and this is just part of the business that we're in."

Van Damme left Belgian club Standard Liege to move to the Galaxy ahead of last season. He and his wife, former tennis player Elke Clijsters, announced their separation soon afterward.

The MLS club gave Van Damme a contract extension in February worth $600,000 a season, though they bought down his designated player status after signing Jonathan dos Santos this summer.

He was a finalist for MLS defender of the year last season and started the All-Star Game against Real Madrid last month.

LA will attempt to keep Van Damme for its two games remaining this month, the Times reported, before letting him move to Antwerp before the close of the European transfer window.

The Galaxy, who have conceded the second-most goals at home this season, are nine points off the Western Conference playoff spots with 11 games remaining.

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