Through 18 games, seemingly everything had clicked for Michael De Leeuw and the Chicago Fire. Well, except for one thing for De Leeuw: scoring a goal.
The Dutch forward, who had come to the Fire in 2016 from Dutch club FC Groningen, scored 8 goals in 20 appearances across all competitions last season.
Through 17 games in 2017, De Leeuw had failed to hit the back of the net, and that seemed poised to continue through Saturday’s game against Vancouver.
In the 64th minute, a ball fell to him, and with the goalie off his line, De Leeuw lofted the ball towards the open net, only to see a Vancouver defender head it off the line. Then, in the 80th minute, a Luis Solignac pass found a wide-open De Leeuw, one-on-one with the goalie, but he placed his shot well wide.
“That has to be a goal,” De Leeuw told reporters after the game.
His drought would continue, or so it seemed.
In the 84th minute, De Leeuw grabbed the ball on the left wing, found striker Nemanja Nikolic, the league’s leading scorer, who had 2 goals in the game already, who played the ball back to De Leeuw. The Dutchman made up for his mistake, sliding home the ball for his first of the season, and capping the 4-0 win.
“The monkey is off my back, but I think it was an elephant,” De Leeuw said. “The most important thing is we killed the game.”