It’s not that often that I happen across some exclusive, breaking news from the other side of the pond. Just know that to bring you the latest and great here at wrong side of the pond, I’ll do whatever it takes, ruin as many people’s lives, so long as I can make a name for myself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends I lose or people I leave dead and bloodied along the way… sorry. Zoolander ramble.
To get back on track, so what is this exciting news?
I’ve gained “insider” knowledge that the US international Chris Rolfe will be leaving the Chicago Fire after the current MLS season and will be joining Danish Superliga side Aalborg BK on a three-year deal. And since Rolfe’s contract expires at the end of the season, Aalborg pick up the attacker on a Bosman — or free transfer — meaning MLS will lose one of their prized assets and get nothing in return. An integral part of the Fire attack over the last four and half years, Rolfe had appeared to become disillusioned with the club’s direction as of late.
Despite his solid performances and output since being drafted by the Fire in 2005, the Fire didn’t show him much confidence by signing several strikers over the last several seasons: Blanco, McBride, and Nyarko to name a few. Additionally, losing Bakary Soumare to French Ligue 1 outfit Boulogne and a tumultuous season on and off the field, probably didn’t help build a case for the Kettering, Ohio, native to re-up with the Fire. Word is Rolfe turned down a modest contract extension from MLS, and I don’t particularly blame him.
Needless to say, losing Rolfe will be a huge blow to the Fire. Quick and strong on the ball despite his small frame, Rolfe managed to tally 35 times for Chicago playing in a number of roles. His creativity and ability to read the game have also made Chris into one of most clutch performers in MLS during the playoffs too. He’s provided crucial goals in big games, netting in each leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against D.C. United two years ago. And though Rolfe has been capped eight times by the USMNT, it’s been a while he was last called in by Bob Bradley. Hopefully the move to AaB will reinvigorate his chances of making the squad for next year’s World Cup.
Now, I should probably be honest: I follow Chris’ career pretty closely and think that he is a hell of a player. But I am guilty of being a bit biased… I do actually know the guy.
While I faced up against him a few times during my youth career (we both grew up playing in the Dayton area), I really got to know him through his older brother. The elder Rolfe child and I were college teammates, roommates, and ski buddies and remain close to this day. And it was through Jon that I gradually got to know Chris and his family. Jon and I have reaped the rewards of Chris’ ascendance, travelling around to watch him play as much as classes, team commitments and eventually work would allow. But despite how much I’ll miss the perks of having him playing here — and being able to make the drive up to Crew Stadium to root for him with all of the other Dayton locals — I’ve still wanted to see him to make this move.
I’m sure Chris is looking forward to the new challenge. He’s an extremely competitive guy (you should see him on the ping pong table… intense), and what better way is there to challenge himself than to move to Europe? It’s also likely a bit of a carpe diem factor; take the chance before you lose it.
So with the question of Rolfe’s next move finally settled by his move to Aalborg, the big question that remains is: does anyone know of a way to watch the Danish superliga games here in the States?
UPDATE: AaB have now updated their website, officially announcing Rolfe’s signing. You can read for yourself by clicking here… but only if you can read Danish.
UPDATE 2: Crap. It turns out I wasn’t the first to write about this on the internet. Goal.com seemed to have beat me to it. Bastards.
UPDATE 3: Chris’ mom, who traveled with him to Denmark to wrap up the signing has had time to post some pictures her Facebook profile (Credit the picture to Mrs. Rolfe!):