Birmingham Legion FC has acquired defender Thomas Vancaeyezeele from fellow USL Championship side San Diego Loyal SC. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Birmingham Legion FC announced on Thursday it had acquired defender Thomas Vancaeyezeele from fellow Championship club San Diego Loyal SC. The club has additionally signed the French Guiana to a multi-year contract, pending league and federation approval.
“Thomas is somebody we have tracked since 2018, and we're excited to bring him to Birmingham," said Legion FC President and General Manager Jay Heaps. "He's a talented player and versatile defender that will be a great addition to our defensive group.”
Vancaeyezeele spent the first part of the 2021 season in San Diego with Loyal SC, where he made seven starts in the club’s first eight games of the season, before joining the French Guiana National Team for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup qualification matches. French Guiana made it to the final round of qualification before falling to Trinidad and Tobago this past Tuesday night in a penalty shootout. Vancaeyezeele started and played the full 90 minutes in the match and scored his penalty kick chance.
Before joining San Diego, Vancaeyezeele had established himself as one of the best defenders in the USL Championship while playing with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds from 2018 to 2020. He earned a place on the 2019 All-League Second Team, alongside current Legion FC forward Neco Brett, and was named to the 2020 All-League First Team, with Legion FC midfielder Bruno Lapa.
While in Pittsburgh, Vancaeyezeele made 88 appearances along the back line and in midfield, leading the team in total interceptions, bagging seven goals and one assist, and playing the most minutes for the side in 2018 and 2020. The Riverhounds reached the USL Champioship Playoffs all three seasons and finished the 2019 season with the best record in the Championship’s Eastern Conference.
Vancaeyezeele grew up playing in Caen, France, before coming to the United States in 2015 to play college soccer at the University of Charleston. In two seasons in Charleston, he made 41 appearances, scored five goals, and won the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championship, en route to be named the NCAA Division II Player of the Year. He also made 24 appearances while in college for USL League Two teams SW Florida Adrenaline and Mississippi Brilla.