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Fire midfielder Pavel Pardo retires after 19 years

BRIDGEVIEW IL - OCTOBER 27:  Pavel Pardo #17 Chicago Fire Marcelo Saragos #11 DC United fight for ball ToyotPark

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - OCTOBER 27: Pavel Pardo #17 of the Chicago Fire and Marcelo Saragosa #11 of DC United fight for the ball at Toyota Park on October 27, 2012 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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Updated: February 21, 2013 6:54AM

In a move that was expected for days, Fire midfielder Pavel Pardo announced his retirement Saturday.

Pardo, one of Mexico’s greatest contemporary players, signed with the Fire in July 2011, made 41 regular-season appearances and had two goals and nine assists. Last season, Pardo, 36, was instrumental in helping the Fire to its first playoff appearance since the 2009 season, starting 27 games.

“This was a very difficult decision, but after speaking with my family, I’ve decided that it is the right time to retire from professional soccer,” Pardo said in a team statement. “I’ve had the opportunity to play for world-class clubs and represent my country at the highest level. The journey has been an exciting one, and I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished along the way. Thank you to all of my teammates, coaches, clubs, family and, most importantly, my fans for supporting me for the last 19 years. I’m excited about the next phase of my career and look forward to being involved in soccer for many more years to come.”

Pardo has the second-most international appearances (148) for Mexico. He represented his country in the 1998 and 2006 World Cups and won the 1999 Confederations Cup and the 1998 and 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cups.

In addition to the United States, Pardo played in Mexico and Germany.

He signed with VfB Stuttgart in 2006, helping the club to the 2006-07 Bundesliga title. Pardo appeared in 71 games for Stuttgart and had four goals.

Pardo spent most of his career with Club America, from 1999 to 2006 and from 2009 to 2011. He played in 310 games in his two stints.

“He was an integral part of our squad as we returned to the playoffs in 2012, and the leadership and experience that he brought to our locker room was tremendous,” Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon said in a team statement. “Pavel has had an illustrious career for club and country. We wish him all the best as he transitions into the next chapter of his life.”

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