The Chicago Fire announced Thursday that midfielder Marco Pappa had transferred to Dutch side SC Heerenveen and will join the team immediately.
The team announced on Aug. 13 that Pappa had signed a pre-contract with the Dutch club and would join the team after the conclusion of his Fire contract on Dec. 31. However, considering he is expected to be called up by the Guatemalan national team for World Cup qualifying in September and therefore miss additional MLS games, it made sense for the Fire to make money off Pappa's transfer instead of allowing him to walk.
"This was a very difficult decision to make, however, we feel it is the best move for the club and the player at this time," Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon said in a team statement. "This transfer provides the club with flexibility under the salary cap and made sense as we look toward the future. Marco came into his own as a member of the Fire, he has been a big part of the club and we wish him the best in this next phase of his career."
Pappa leaves leading the team with six goals on the season. His five assists rank second. As the 2012 MLS season progressed, interest in Pappa among European teams grew exponentially. Transfers had been rumored for much of the season. Even before he signed his pre-contract, it was highly expected he would leave the Fire at some point.