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Fire/Red Stars report including the Fire's new Lion King offense

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page 2 de Leeuw sign

Photo by Jeff Vorva

Michael de Leeuw will make his Toyota Park debut on Wednesday against Kansas City.

 

CHICAGO FIRE AT TORONTO

WHEN: 6:30 p.m., Saturday.

WHERE: BMO Field, Toronto

FIRE RECORD: 3-7-5

TORONTO RECORD: 5-6-5 

LAST TIME --- Toronto beat the fire, 3-2, Sept. 26 in Toronto. Recently released Gilberto had the two goals for the Fire.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY AT CHICAGO FIRE

WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview

FIRE RECORD: 3-7-5 (as of Sunday)

KC RECORD: 7-8-4 (as of Sunday)

LAST TIME: KC won 1-0 at home May 3, 2015. Paulo Nagamura scored the lone goal in the 75th minute.

 

Fire star David Accam is sometimes known as King David.

The surname in Dutch of Michael de Leeuw means lion.

de Leeuw is scheduled to make his Fire debut in Toronto Saturday and will join Accam in what could be called the Lion King offense as they hope to snap a 33-game winless streak on the road.

Accam missed seven out of 15 games with this season with a knee injury but has four goals and two assists in the eight Major League Soccer games he has played in plus four more in two Lamar Hunt Cup contests.

de Leeuw, 29, has 94 goals in 211 games in his senior career and is expected to pump up and offense that is struggling even after Friday night’s 1-0 victory over San Jose Friday night at Toyota Park. The Fire (3-7-5) has 15 goals in 15 MLS matches.

“What excites us the most is that we think we’ve added another important piece to the championship program that we’re trying to build,’’ Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez said of de Leeuw. “I want to be clear that while we have high hopes and expectations for Michael and his play, he’s not a savior. He is an important piece in what we are trying to build through a deliberate and thoughtful process. One can easily look at his goal-scoring record as an indicator of his abilities. But as we have spoken in the past, we first look at the man and then the player. We are thrilled to add Michael’s winning character to our locker room.

“He wanted this challenge and that was very important to us. He selected us as much as we selected him. We believe he is a champion.’’

The deal was months in the making and when it was finalized in May but he was not allowed to participate in MLS action until after July 4 because of secondary transfer rules so coach Veljko Paunovic put de Leeuw on a five-week program to work on fitness. 

“I’m very happy to be here, finally,” de Leeuw said. “It’s good to be in a new environment. If helps you stay hungry. It’s a good way to develop by playing in another country.

“I’m a player who is going to make my goals,” he added. “I don’t want to say any numbers because I don’t want to put pressure on myself but I know I’m going to make goals and I would rather they come sooner than later.’’

“Soon and often is what we would like,” Paunovic said.

Rodriguez is preaching patience to Fire fans.

“Acclimation to Major League Soccer is difficult,” Rodriguez said. “This is not an easy league. There are no easy games. This is the most competitive and balanced league in the world – top to bottom. But I’m sure that in time, fans will love Michael’s personality on and off the field.’’

 Goose is loose

John Goosens scored his first Fire goal in the San Jose victory.

Sean Johnson recorded his second shutout of the season since playing in the last six matches after replacing Matt Lampson.

 

CHICAGO RED STARS AT WASHINGTON

WHEN: 6 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Maureen Hendricks Field, Boyds, Maryland

RED STARS RECORD: 5-3-3

WASHINGTON RECORD: 6-2-2

LAST TIME: Washington beat the Fire 2-1 in Lisle on Aug. 16. Crystal Dunn scored in added time for the win.

 

Red Stars on a rare losing skid

 

The Chicago Red Stars are in an unfamiliar place.

They have a losing streak.

After Friday’s 2-0 road loss to Western New York, the team has lost two straight as they also dropped a 2-0 decision to National Women’s Soccer League lading Portland on June 22. That came on the heels of an eight-match unbeaten string.

Midfielder Vanessa DiBernardino said before the match the Red Stars were not “going to change our style too much because of who we are playing. That said, the stats learly show we’re up against a dangerous team.’’

Western New York is red hot after a recent 7-1 win over Boston and now the shutout against Chicago.

Big three back in town

 

When the Red Stars visit Washington on Saturday, its three Olympians --- Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Alyssa Naiher, will be on the United States roster when it plays South Africa in a friendly match at noon Saturday at Soldier Field.

The U.S. team also faces Costa Rica in a friendly July 22 in Kansas City, Kansas.

Bookkeeping

The Stars completed a trade with the Boston Breakers, sending one of their international roster spots for the remainder of the 2016 season.  In exchange, the Red Stars receive Boston’s second highest pick in the second round of the 2017 NWSL College Draft. 
 
With the addition of the second round pick, the Red Stars now hold seven selections in the 2017 College Draft, including one pick in both the first and third rounds, two in the second round and three in the final round.