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Signing of Gonzalo Segares to long-term deal keeps Fire’s back line intact

TORONTO CANADA - SEPTEMBER 12: Gonzalo Segares #13 Chicago Fire moves ball against ToronFC during MLS actiBMO Field September 12

TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 12: Gonzalo Segares #13 of the Chicago Fire moves the ball against Toronto FC during MLS action at the BMO Field September 12, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

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Updated: December 6, 2012 10:05PM

The Fire made clear this offseason that its first priority was to keep intact a defensive unit that was instrumental in its success last season.

The team announced Thursday it had accomplished that goal when it signed left back Gonzalo Segares to a multiyear deal. The move came three days after the club had declined a team option on Segares for the 2013 season, allowing the Fire to negotiate this long-term extension.

The Segares deal — coupled with the re-signing of center back Arne Friedrich in November to a one-year deal — guarantees that the Fire will return its starting defenders from a year ago. Center back Austin Berry and outside back Jalil Anibaba are under contract.

The back four, along with goalie Sean Johnson, allowed 41 goals last season, which was second-best in the Eastern Conference.

“I’m very happy to ­continue on as a Fire ­player,” Segares said in a team statement. “Chicago is my second home and the Fire have been a big part of my life for a long time. I look forward to more ­success with the club in the future.”

Segares, a Costa Rican international, has played all eight of his MLS seasons with the Fire.

Last season, Segares started in all 31 matches in which he appeared and tallied three goals and one assist. He has played in 207 matches for the Fire and is only the seventh player in franchise history to have played in at least 200 matches.

“We’re pleased that Gonzalo will remain a member of the club,” Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon said in a team statement. “He has been a tremendous asset to the Fire back line for nearly a decade and has been key to our defensive stability.”

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