The lion has landed in Chicago.
Michael de Leeuw, the 29-year-old forward signed by the Chicago Fire on May 17, arrived in the Windy City Saturday to begin acclimating to his new city and new club.
After spending the weeks since his signing recuperating from a 37-game campaign with Eredivisie side FC Groningen, de Leeuw stepped off his trans-Atlantic flight and used a portion of his first afternoon in Chicago to meet a group of his newest supporters. He visited Heineken Pub97 at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, where the Chicago Fire Foundation on Saturday hosted its fifth annual Fire, Brews + Bites event.
As attendees enjoyed the first full day of UEFA EURO 2016 on the array of TVs, de Leeuw -- whose surname is Dutch for 'lion' -- used the opportunity to hop on the microphone and reiterate his excitement about his new endeavor. The man whom Fire GM Nelson Rodríguez has said the club "expects and are looking for ... to provide goals" told those in attendance Saturday that he can't wait to do just that.
“I only wanted to say, I’m glad that I’m in Chicago, and I can’t wait to score goals," he said, "and play for the Fire and play for you.”
The event also allowed for a prompt reunion for de Leeuw and his longtime teammate at FC Groningen, current Chicago Fire centerback Johan Kappelhof.
Ineligible to compete for the Fire until after the secondary transfer window opens on July 4, de Leeuw is set to begin integrating into his new side this week, undertaking a modified 'preseason' schedule while he returns to full match fitness. He'll be officially introduced to media members at a press event on Tuesday (June 14).
Chicago plays its first match in more than two weeks on Wednesday (June 15) when the Men In Red host Indy Eleven in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round fixture. Kickoff at Toyota Park is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and tickets are available online by clicking here.