Among the least cautioned teams in the league, disciplinary suspensions aren’t something with which the Chicago Fire have had to deal with much over the course of the 2017 season.
However, that will change on Saturday night when D.C. United visits Toyota Park (7:30 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago Plus), as forward/midfielder/jack-of-all-trades Michael de Leeuw will be forced to serve a one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation.
The Dutchman received his fifth yellow card of the season in last Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with the New York Red Bulls after being whistled for unsporting behavior against New York’s Gonzalo Veron in the 76th minute. It was de Leeuw’s second yellow in consecutive matches, after additionally being booked during the team’s 1-0 win in Montreal on Sept. 2.
Saturday will then mark just the second absence of 2017 for “The Lion,” who has appeared in each of the Fire’s matches this season outside of the club’s defeat in Atlanta back on March 18, when he was out injured.
Generally employed centrally or along the right wing in the Fire midfield, the 30-year-old’s absence could mean increased field time for a number of players depending on how head coach Veljko Paunovic opts to attack D.C. United on the weekend. Luis Solignac seems poised for inclusion in the starting XI, while Homegrown midfielder Djordje Mihailovic and veteran winger Arturo Alvarez figure to be in the mix for increased playing time as well.
Despite seeing yellow five times in the last two games, the Fire’s collection of 40 yellow cards as a team in 2017 are tied for the third-fewest in MLS, behind only Seattle (33) and New England (39) and level with Toronto.