The LA Galaxy announced on Friday they have made a deal to acquire defender Niko Hämäläinen on loan from English Championship side Queen’s Park Rangers for the rest of the 2021 MLS season.
As part of the deal, LA sent the Chicago Fire $50,000 of general allocation money in a trade to acquire the top slot in the MLS Waiver Order in order to secure Hämäläinen’s services in the league.
The 24-year-old is a Finnish international but was born and raised in Florida and therefore will not take up an international slot.
Hämäläinen came through QPR’s youth system and turned pro in 2015. The youngster mostly stayed at the club, aside from a brief loan at a lower division club, Dagenham & Redbridge, that year.
In 2019, he was loaned for the first half of the season to LAFC, and made three appearances there before returning to England. As a result, when he hits the field in a competitive game for the Galaxy, he’ll become the first player to play for both the Galaxy and LAFC.
After that cup of coffee in MLS, Hämäläinen was sent to Scotland on loan at Kilmarnock, and had a great run in 2019-20, making 28 appearances and impressing in the SPL for a smaller club. This past season, he stayed at QPR, and played 23 times, which seemed to indicate he was starting to break through, but now he’s back on loan.
As a result, I’m not sure what to make of this move for his career. I thought the Galaxy were pretty well set with Jorge Villafaña playing nearly all the minutes this season at left back, and Danny Acosta, finally making his debut with the club a few games back, providing depth. Given Villafaña’s age it makes sense for LA to rotate more over the second half of the season, but it looks like the club wanted reinforcements. And for Hämäläinen, he gets a chance to play some more, but I don’t know if there’s an option to purchase after his loan or if this a true rental situation and he’ll be on his way at the end of the season. We’ll see.
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