Goals have been hard to come by in 2016 but the Fire hope their newest addition can help bolster the team's offensive production that is all too reliant on David Accam. Dutch attacker Michael de Leeuw has finally arrived in Chicago after a long courtship. In describing himself as a "nine-and-a-half" during his introductory press conference, de Leeuw may not be the prototype lead forward but he should provide another quality option in the final third.
After arriving in Chicago on Saturday afternoon, de Leeuw joined teammates for training on Sunday and will continue to train as he integrates himself into the side following a short break. He's not worried about tiring in the second half of the MLS season after completing a full Erevidisie campaign. "I had my holiday," said de Leeuw on Tuesday afternoon. "It was a short one but the internationals who play in the European championship, after they get to the finals, they've also got two, maybe three weeks if you're lucky and then you also have to come to the club."
He's not technically a Designated Player since his budget spot was bought down with Targeted Allocation Money but he'll be looked at for the scoring punch that past (and current) DP failures have failed to provide. The twenty-nine year old doesn't seem to be shying away from taking on that responsibility in the early going but he's placing importance on wins over goals. "I'm a guy who gives every game, everything. I want to win. I do everything to win. That's the kind of guy I am. I don't like losing. Everyone who likes sports doesn't like losing. I also don't like losing when it's 4-3, and then people say 'what a nice game.' 1-nil for us is okay for me but I'm that kind of guy," he said. "If we win, I'm happy. I don't have to be the guy who scored. Of course, I like scoring but I like winning more."
Conversations with Johan Kappelhof and John Goossens helped him make the decision to choose MLS and Chicago over other options. A former teammate at FC Groningen, Kappelhof offered advice on the difference between MLS and the Erevidisie. "The important thing he told me is that it's more physical than in Holland. He said be prepared."
Discussions with the Fire technical staff and a plan for the team also played a big part in convincing de Leeuw to turn down a contract extension at Groningen. "The most important thing was the feeling I had in the talks and conversations I had with Nelson (Rodriguez) and with the coach. They had trust and I felt that I could be helpful to the team. It felt good and that's why I chose Chicago," he explained.
The reality that the Fire currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table didn't deter de Leeuw from making the decision either. He says that the locker room still believes that they can compete this season. "Everyone is optimistic. Everyone feels that they can turn it. The season is still long. If nobody thinks like that, we can stop now and go on holiday. Everyone thinks that we can turn it around and me too. It's a long season. With Groningen we lost six games in a row and nobody gave us a playoff chance but at the end we won six games in a row."
The Fire still have 22 games remaining this season so there is time to pick up results although history isn't on their side in terms of playoff competition. "After 34 games you stand where you belong. At this point, they are two or three games behind some clubs but five points behind a playoff (spot). It's really close, so anything can happen," said de Leeuw.
"When you're new to a club you have to prove yourself. Show them what you've got," he said."
The 'Lion' will have that chance come July 9.