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Forward Michael de Leeuw departs Chicago Fire, signs with FC Emmen

Sep 29, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire midfielder Michael de Leeuw (8) reacts after a game against the Los Angeles FC during the second half at Bridgeview Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Another notable name is exiting the Chicago Fire.

In an offseason that appears set to see numerous changes for the Fire, Michael de Leeuw added his name to the players departing.

The Dutch forward signed with FC Emmen in the Eredivisie. De Leeuw is reunited with Emmen manager Dick Lukkien, who managed de Leeuw at his previous club, FC Groningen.

De Leeuw had his option declined by the Fire, but the team stated it was still negotiating with him on a new deal. Instead, de Leeuw goes back to his home country and the league where he has spent most of his career. De Leeuw, 32, signed a one-and-a-half year deal with Emmen with an option for another year.

Emmen is in its first ever Eredivisie season. De Leeuw joins with the season halfway finished. Emmen is 13th out of 18 teams, two points ahead of a relegation playoff spot.

De Leeuw joined the Fire in the summer of 2016. That season he scored seven goals with three assists in 18 appearances for an offensively-challenged Fire team. In 2017, de Leeuw’s role changed from an outright striker to more of a supporting role for eventual Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic. De Leeuw’s goal total plummeted to three, but he led the team with eight assists.

His 2017 ended with an ACL injury suffered in the third to last regular season match. De Leeuw returned to action nearly 10 and a half months later. The Fire’s season was already spiraling in the wrong direction. The Fire were on a six-game losing streak by the time de Leeuw made his season debut. He finished with two goals and two assists in nine matches (five starts).

De Leeuw was initially signed using Targeted Allocation Money. Even if he signed at a lower price in 2019, he would have required a hefty salary. Fellow forwards Alan Gordon, Luis Solignac and Yura Movsisyan also departed the Fire this offseason. The Fire have picked up Fabian Herbers and Marco Urena this offseason as replacements.

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