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Friedrich, Fire reach one-year deal

BRIDGEVIEW IL - MAY 09: Arne Friedrich #23 Chicago Fire chases ball against Real Salt Lake during an MLS match

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MAY 09: Arne Friedrich #23 of the Chicago Fire chases the ball against Real Salt Lake during an MLS match at Toyota Park on May 9, 2012 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire and Real Salt Lake tied 0-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Arne Friedrich

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Updated: December 9, 2012 7:45PM

Almost immediately after the September 15 roster freeze deadline for the 2012 season, Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon began planning for the 2013 season. His most notable move was attempting to persuade center back Arne Friedrich to re-sign with the club, hoping to stave off a drawn-out negotiation with the German this offseason.

Wednesday Leon’s foresight paid off as the Fire announced it re-signed Friedrich, who anchored the club’s backline last season. The announcement came a week after the Fire’s season-ending 2-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo, which knocked them out of the playoffs.

Friedrich said he re-signed with the team for one season.

“Building continuity at the center back positions is a priority in 2013,” Leon said in a team statement. “Arne’s international experience and leadership are key to our defense. We are happy to have him back next season.”

Friedrich, who won the team’s defender of the year award last season, is a veteran of two World Cups and played nearly a decade with the German national team, totaling 82 appearances.

With his world-class resume, Friedrich gained respect from incumbent Fire players, and was particularly instrumental in the development of rookie Austin Berry.

Friedrich, Berry and outside backs Jalil Anibaba and Gonzalo Segares formed one of the stingiest defenses in the league. The back line was heavily credited for the Fire’s success this past season, considering the team’s inconsistent offensive performance throughout the 2012 campaign.

“We had some changes in the squad in [the middle of] the last season and it was not just depending on the defensive line, but everybody knows each other well now and this is a very good foundation,” Friedrich said.

Not only will Friedrich begin the 2013 season with a familiarity with his teammates, but he will benefit from a full training camp after signing only 10 days prior to the start of last season.

It’s definitely an advantage to have more practice time in the preseason,” Friedrich said. “Last time I came in the end of March, so I came in the end of preseason.”

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