Forward Madison FC has re-signed defensive midfielder Eric Leonard for 2021, securing the services of a key player from the team’s first two seasons. Leonard, 25, has played in every USL League One game in the Flamingos’ young history.
“I’m super excited to be back,” Leonard said. “Madison’s kind of my backyard, with my family being from Chicago. It’s such an awesome community and I’m excited for year number three.”
Leonard continued his rise in 2020, achieving a milestone moment on August 19 when he scored his first professional goal via a headed effort against Omaha. According to head coach Carl Craig, Leonard will help bring balance to the team’s attacking-minded approach.
“Given the style of football we’re looking to play, we need a bouncer, a doorman,” Craig said. “We’ve got to have defense to sustain our forward progress and Eric fits wonderfully into that position. We’re very pleased to have him back.”
Leonard, who grew up in Palatine, Ill., captained Butler University before joining Nerang Soccer Club in Australia in 2018. Dubbed the "American Import" upon his arrival, Leonard made an immediate impact in the Outback, earning the Gold Coast Premier League Player of the Year award.
After signing his first professional contract with Forward Madison in 2019, Leonard became a mainstay in the midfield, providing the Flamingos with a strong defensive backbone. In 2021, Leonard said he’s looking to add a more well-rounded element to his style of play.
“I really feel that Coach Craig is going to take my game to the next level,” Leonard said. “Right now, I don’t think there’s a better place in the country where I can continue to develop and grow than in Madison. Year three, not only for me, but for our club, is going to be the best year yet.”