The Charleston Battery announced Tuesday the signing of Colombian defender Juan Sebastián Palma to the 2023 roster, pending league and federation approval.
Sebastián arrives in Charleston after spending the past five seasons with Colombian top-flight side Once Caldas. He has made 24 appearances across all competitions for the club, primarily as a center-back. The 6-2 23-year-old averaged 7.3 duels, 4.6 interceptions and 11.6 recoveries per 90 minutes in 2022.
“As soon as I heard of this opportunity, I didn’t think twice; I wanted to take on the challenge,” said Sebastián. “It is clear that I am joining a team with a lot of history and I am excited by the plans the club has. I know the Charleston Battery are an important part of the community, as was my previous club Once Caldas in Colombia, and I am really motivated.
“I want to continue to develop my game and experience a different type of football by moving to the USL Championship. It is a big step for me and it is my first experience playing abroad; I’m hoping to help the team win, which is the most important thing.”
A native of Puerto Carreño, Colombia, Sebastián has previously represented his country at the youth international level. At 19 years old, he helped the Colombia U-21’s win the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games title, appearing in five matches and scoring one goal.
He was called up again in 2019 with the U-20’s for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, making three appearances while reaching the quarter-finals.
Head Coach Ben Pirmann is enthusiastic about bringing aboard the quick and assertive defender.
“Sebastián has an incredible pedigree as a player and has had top performances at the youth international level, he is a strong leader and tough defender,” said Pirmann. “He’s eager to defend, loves to be aggressive, has pace and is powerful in his actions.
“Additionally, he has shown a willingness to step outside of his comfort zone and wants to serve the Battery and the Charleston community. We will help Sebastián transition to a new culture and new lifestyle, as he will help us to broaden our playing style with his adaptability.”
For Sebastián, his arrival in Charleston marks his first time playing outside Colombia. He previously played for academy side Club La Cantera in Risaralda, Colombia, before making the move to Once Caldas.
“To the fans of Charleston, I want to assure you that I am coming to give my last drop of sweat in every game,” said Sebastián. “I hope we achieve all of our objectives for the season and celebrate 2023 together. I can’t wait to share these moments in the stadium with you.
“I’m excited to get started on what I’m sure will be a wonderful journey with Charleston and begin creating those unforgettable moments together that we can all enjoy. See you soon.”
Goalkeepers: Daniel Kuzemka
Defenders: Leland Archer, Derek Dodson, Benji Ettienne, Juan Sebastián Palma, AJ Paterson
Midfielders: Chris Allan, Fidel Barajas, Andrew Booth, Robbie Crawford, Avionne Flanagan, Joe Schmidt, Emilio Ycaza
Forwards: Aidan Apodaca, Augustine Williams
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