Ex-Cardiff and Nottingham Forest striker makes MLS return

Eight months after his season-long spell with Toronto FC ended, Welsh striker Robert Earnshaw is back in MLS, signing with Eastern Conference rivals the Chicago Fire.

After impressing in MLS during the 2013 season with Toronto FC, Robert Earnshaw is back in the USA for another spell.

The 33-year-old former Wales international signed with the Chicago Fire on Friday, with his addition providing the club with some much-needed firepower up top for their second-half post-season push.

Earnshaw netted eight goals in 26 games during his prior MLS spell, but saw Toronto decline his contract at the end of the campaign in order to make room for the big-name signings of Brazilian striker Gilberto, Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe and, eventually, Julio Cesar on loan.

Moving back to the UK, the veteran striker, signed a short-term deal with Blackpool in March but made just one appearance during his two months in Lancashire and has been on the hunt for a new club since, with a return to MLS having been rumoured in recent weeks.

‘Robert is a veteran player with a wealth of international experience,’ said Fire head coach and director of soccer Frank Yallop in a statement. ‘He’s a gifted, natural goalscorer who is already familiar with the league, and we’re glad to have him join the Fire as we continue the second half of the MLS campaign.’

Born in Zambia, before moving to Wales aged nine, Earsnshaw is perhaps best known for his goalscoring exploits with boyhood club Cardiff City in the early 2000s, netting 83 times in 168 games from 1998 until his 2004 move to Premier League-bound West Bromwich Albion, where he scored 11 top-flight goals during the 2004-05 campaign.

With subsequent spells at Norwich City, Derby County Nottingham Forest and a second stint with Cardiff, the experienced poacher boasts a commendable record of 198 goals in 459 total appearances in English football, having also raked in transfer fees totalling close to £13 million over the course of his 17 professional seasons.

Boasting a further 16 goals in 58 international appearances since his 2002 debut, Earnshaw’s addition is far from massive coup for Chicago but there’s no doubt his arrival is welcomed, with the club needing someone to ease the goalscoring burden off reigning MLS MVP Mike Magee’ shoulders.

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