The tone of Veljko Paunovic's voice in the postgame press conference told the story even if there was no word on a diagnosis. Michael de Leeuw's injury wasn't good.
What the Fire coach alluded to became official on Monday with the Fire saying that de Leeuw suffered a left ACL rupture. The Dutch forward suffered the injury in a collision in the 26th minute of Saturday's 1-1 draw against New York City FC.
He was going for a loose ball and his left leg didn't appear to be firmly planted, but the direct contact on his knee did enough damage to cause the injury. He immediately signaled for help as he lay on the field. De Leeuw was carried off the field by two trainers and didn't put any weight on his left leg.
The injury will cost him the rest of the 2017 season, including all of the playoffs, and will likely cost him the start of 2018 as well. De Leeuw's contract is guaranteed through 2018 and the Fire hold an option for 2019.
"The whole locker room is feeling that," Paunovic said. "It’s a bad situation for the team."
The injury is a big blow to the team in general for multiple reasons. For one, he leads the team with eight assists, including three in the past five matches. His work rate in the withdrawn forward/attacking midfield role has been key in pressing opposing midfields and he has shown a knack for setting up his teammates with impressive volley passes.
In addition, the player many of his teammates simply call "Lion" due to his last name meaning "the lion" in Dutch, is one of the more vocal players on the team. The 30-year-old has become one of the leaders on the team since joining last summer.
De Leeuw has scored 10 goals and been credited with 11 assists in 48 MLS matches for the Fire.
As the Fire prepare for the postseason, de Leeuw's absence complicates the Fire's preferred lineup and formation. He has played underneath striker Nemanja Nikolic, the leading goal-scorer in MLS, and fits in that position better than anyone else on the team. Luis Solignac has adapted well to playing in more of a wide role this season, but may be the most likely candidate to take de Leeuw's spot. Arturo Alvarez, who has started the last four matches, could then take Solignac's spot.