CHICAGO (Jan. 18, 2023) – Chicago Fire FC today announced that the Club has signed defender Eric Leonard to an MLS NEXT Pro professional contract. His contract with Chicago Fire FC II will run through the 2023 season with a Club option for 2024. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“It’s exciting to welcome Eric to Chicago Fire II,” said Chicago Fire II General Manager Alex Boler. “He has been an excellent ambassador for Chicago everywhere he has played, and we’re pleased to welcome him to his hometown Club. He will strengthen our backline, as well as our locker room, as the team heads into its second season.”
Leonard, 27, comes to the Fire from USL1 side Forward Madison FC, where he played since the club’s inaugural season in 2019. Leonard appeared in 29 matches (27 starts) for the Flamingos in 2022, and his 96 appearances are a Forward Madison record.
“We were extremely happy to have Eric join the organization as part of Chicago Fire FC II,” said Chicago Fire FC II head coach Ludovic Taillander. “His experience will be beneficial to the younger players on the roster as the Club continues to pave the way from the Academy to the professional level.”
Prior to joining Forward Madison, Leonard played with OKC Energy U23s of the PDL in 2017. In 2018, he joined Australian club Nerang SC in the Gold Coach Premier League, where he was named Gold Coast Premier League Players’ Player of the Year.
Leonard hails from the Chicago suburb of Palatine, Ill., and played for the Chicago Sockers before heading to Butler University, where he played in 73 games, scored six goals and was team captain during his senior year. Additionally, Leonard was named to the Big East All-Rookie team in his freshman year and was part of the division’s All-Tournament Team in 2016 and 2017.
Transaction: Chicago Fire FC II signs defender Eric Leonard to MLS NEXT Pro professional contract through the 2023 season, with a club option for 2024.
Name: Eric Leonard
Date of Birth: October 5, 1995
Hometown: Palatine, Illinois
Birthplace: Palatine, Illinois
Last Club: Forward Madison