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D.C. United signs ex Bolivian international Juan Manuel Peña

Defender brings World Cup and La Liga experience to backline

D.C. United announced today the club has signed ex Bolivian international defender Juan Manuel Peña. The 37 year-old center back is a veteran of 14 seasons in Spain’s La Liga and represented Bolivia in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Peña will be available for selection upon receiving his P-1 work visa and will be classified as a Senior International on United’s roster.

“We are pleased to be adding a player with a vast amount of experience in La Liga and with the Bolivian national team,” said United General Manager Dave Kasper. “Juan will provide our team with a tremendous amount of leadership and experience. We look forward to his contributions to our club.”

Peña started his playing career in 1990 at Club Blooming in his native city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Playing as a central defender, Peña appeared in 48 games with no goals. During this time the stalwart defender played with current D.C. United captain Jaime Moreno. At the end of the 1993 season Peña moved to Independiente Santa Fe in Colombia.

At Independiente Santa Fe, the defender appeared in 62 games from 1993 to 1995, where he started attracting interest from Spain - a move he would eventually secure at the end of the 1995 season when he signed with Real Valladolid, where he played for nine seasons and totaled 249 appearances for the Castilian club. Real Valladolid was relegated in 2004 and Peña soon moved to Villareal thereafter.

During his three-year stint at Villareal, Peña was able to help his club into the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s most prestigious football tournament. Additionally, Peña anchored Villareal’s backline through a successful run in the 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup. In total the defender appeared 56 times for the “Yellow Submarine,” and he also notched a rare goal during his first campaign at the Madrigal.

Peña appeared six times for Villareal during the 2007 season, and secured a transfer to Celta de Vigo in the Spanish Segunda (Second) Division. At Celta de Vigo he made 33 appearances before finishing his Spanish career at the end of the 2009 season.

From his first cap for Bolivia in 1991, Peña would figure prominently in his country’s international plans. The central defender went on to feature in 85 games for Bolivia, becoming the fifth most capped player in Bolivian history and captaining his side on numerous occasions. He played in one game for Bolivia in the 1994 World Cup, a 3-1 loss to Spain and featured in five editions of Copa America, the prestigious bi-annual South American championship tournament.

Name: Juan Manuel Peña
Position: Defender
Height: 6-0
Weight: 165
Jersey: 3
Date of Birth: January 17, 1973
Age: 37
Place of Birth: Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Citizenship: Bolivia/Spain
Last Club: Celta de Vigo (Spain)
Roster status: Senior international
Acquired: Signed on 3/25/10

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