Fire

How Michael de Leeuw is being valuable to the Fire without scoring goals

Goal scorers want to score goals and Michael de Leeuw is a goal scorer who is not scoring goals right now.

De Leeuw scored seven goals in 18 games after joining the Chicago Fire in the middle of last season. This season he has not scored yet in 14 games.

However, the Chicago Fire’s Dutch forward is still happy because the team is winning.

“Of course, I’m a player who scores,” de Leeuw said after the 2-0 win against Atlanta. “That’s what gives me confidence. That’s how you grow in a season and at this point I didn’t score a goal. Sometimes I think about it and I think (damn) I didn’t score for 14, 15 games. Sometimes it’s eating inside. On the other hand I know I’m important in other things at this moment. We’re playing as a team, we’re playing good and everybody is taking his role.”

After being played as either an all-out striker or a supporting striker, de Leeuw has often played as one of the three attacking players supporting main striker Nemanja Nikolic. Nikolic leads the league with 12 goals. De Leeuw has played wide right, a new position to him, and, more recently, in a central attacking midfielder type role.

De Leeuw was named the Fire’s man of the match despite not factoring into either goal on Saturday. His work rate, willingness to make plays defensively and challenge to win balls in midfield has helped the team, even if he is further from the goal.

“Michael is so generous in his effort for the team and working for the team and for his teammates,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “At the same time he is dangerous. He had opportunities to score in the games before, but when you have that approach and you are working the way he does, it helps the team.”

Paunovic is convinced de Leeuw remains a key part of the team.

“He has to be on the field,” Paunovic said. “It’s just that. On the side where he’s not scoring goals, he’s helping other score goals, he’s helping the team win. That also counts. I know he is a little bit upset with not scoring. Be patient, it’s going to come. You’re going to surprise yourself when you score two or three goals in one game and say I have it, finally.”

De Leeuw said he is adjusting to not being in front of goal so much. He also admitted that he wasn’t playing well earlier in the season, but thinks that has changed.

"Now we have some other players who are stepping up,” de Leeuw said. “I think in the end the goals will come, I know that the goals will come. The most important thing is that we’re winning and that the team is playing good and that’s the most important thing. Then your personal things come in.”