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updated: 11/18/2017 5:05 PM

Meira leaves Chicago Fire

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  • Chicago Fire defender Joao Meira (66) and Columbus Crew midfielder Ethan Finlay (13) battle for the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Chicago.

    Chicago Fire defender Joao Meira (66) and Columbus Crew midfielder Ethan Finlay (13) battle for the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Chicago.

 
 

Central defender Joao Meira announced via Twitter on Saturday that he is leaving the Chicago Fire after two seasons.

Meira's departure is not unexpected. He said after the season that he hoped to move closer to his young family, which remained in his native Portugal.

Meira played in 58 games for the Fire. He did not score but had 3 assists in almost 4,700 minutes of action.

Meira's departure is the first of the off-season for the Fire, but it's not likely to be the last. The Fire has until Nov. 27 to announce which contract options it is picking up for 2018. Meira's departure clears $165,000 under the Fire's salary cap.

Meira could be replaced on the back line by a pair of Fire academy products. Indiana University senior Grant Lillard (Hinsdale Central) could sign with the Fire this winter, as could North Carolina sophomore Mauricio Pineda (Bolingbrook). Both are playing in the NCAA Tournament.

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