Defensive reinforcements have arrived.
The New England Revolution have signed Sambinha, a 23-year-old Portuguese center back, on loan from Sporting Clube de Portugal for the 2016 MLS season. Terms of the deal were not released, but New England does have an option to sign him permanently at the end of the loan.
Sambinha, who will join preseason upon the receipt of his P1 Visa and his International Transfer Certificate, has racked up 72 appearances in Portugal's Segunda Liga since the 2013-14 season. He's deputized for Sporting B, serving as their captain throughout the 2015-16 season, and has also been capped four times by the African nation of Guinea-Bissau.
"Sambinha is a big, strong center back who impressed both myself and Jay [Heaps] during our recent trip to Lisbon," Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a team press release. "He will be able to help strengthen our defense and we are grateful to be able to work with Sporting in order to add a player of his quality to our roster for the upcoming season."
Intriguingly, the move represents the first time New England or Sporting have reaped the rewards of their strategic partnership. The clubs united in October 2014, but have not made any concrete moves until now.
"This is an important moment that reveals the expansion of Sporting Clube de Portugal toward the United States and consolidates our partnership with the New England Revolution," Sporting CP President Bruno de Carvalho said in the same team press release. "We are pleased that Sambinha will represent Sporting CP in MLS and we encourage the Portuguese community to go out and support him and the Revolution. We look forward to their success."
Sambinha will likely step in alongside Jose Goncalves and Andrew Farrell in the heart of defense, providing much needed cover that the Revs often times lacked last year. Below is a highlight video from Sambinha's 2013-14 season with Sporting B, in which he shows off impressive instincts, athleticism and defensive shape.