At first glance, one would guess that Chris Rolfe's impending move from the Fire to Danish club Aalborg was motivated by a couple of things: 1) the motivation to play in a league with more exposure/higher quality of play and 2) the desire to earn a little more money in a career in which players have a short earning lifespan.
And while both of the above reasons played a role in Rolfe's decision to leave Chicago on a free transfer in January, what may surprise even the savviest of Fire fans is a third reason for Rolfe's departure - that he felt poorly treated by the club.
"We have been trying to renegotiate with Chicago for the last two years now," said the 26-year-old Rolfe. "But unfortunately it was always us starting the negotiations and them coming back with - in our opinion - a rather disrespectful offer... so we decided to go ahead and sign a pre-contract [with Aalborg]."
A fifth year veteran, Rolfe - who traveled to Denmark last weekend - said that even if the Fire had offered him more money than Aalborg it still would have been tough to say no to the Danish side.
"It has a lot to do with the way you're treated," said Rolfe. "So as much as I love the guys here, and the fans, and the stadium, and playing in front of my family there's a lot to be said for the way that I was treated when I went to Denmark and for the things that [Aalborg are] willing to do to help me be happy and comfortable."
But despite Rolfe's "disappointment" with the way his contract negotiations with the Fire worked out, the winger is still feeling a tad bittersweet regarding his future departure from the club where he made his name.
"It's a part of the profession," said Rolfe. "I was very fortunate to be here for five years and I will definitely miss the friends that I've made. Our locker room is awesome and I've become very close with pretty much everybody in there. And of course I'll miss the fans as well, the fans have been fantastic."
Outweighing any disappointment or bitterness that he is experiencing in leaving Chicago though, is the excitement Rolfe is feeling for the beginning of the next stage of his career - and his life.
"It's going to be something new for me," said Rolfe - who also told me that he is "fully focused" on the remainder of the 2009 MLS season. "It'll be challenging soccer wise and challenging personally with the new culture, the new team, and the new style of play. But I'm welcoming all of that right now. That's something that I think I need and that's what I'm most excited for."