BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire defender Arne Friedrich has decided to hold off retirement for another year.
The German World Cup veteran said after last week’s season-ending playoff loss to Houston that he’d return to Chicago or retire, and he’s made up his mind. He’s returning to the Fire for one more season in 2013 before he calls it a career.
“For me, it was clear, I would like to stay for another year, the club would like me to play,” Friedrich told MLSsoccer.com. “[Next year] it’s my final season. Never say never, but for me, it’s my last season.”
The 33-year-old veteran didn’t plan on staying in Chicago more than a year when he signed with the team in March, but he quickly fell in love with the city. Throughout the season, he gradually shifted toward playing another season for the Fire, and it became clear when the season ended that the German veteran wanted to stay.
“From the first day on, I felt very comfortable here, but everything has to be set up for both sides,” he said. “During the season, all the time I felt comfortable but I never negotiated something like that, so it came up in the end of the season and everything came up fast.”
Friedrich bolstered the Fire defense this year, joining Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Berry to form one of the more formidable center back combinations in the league. The Fire defense gave up 41 goals, tied for second fewest in the Eastern Conference, and Friedrich was named the team's Defender of the Year.
“Since Day 1, he’s come in and become a big part of everything we do,” captain Logan Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “He brings a wealth of experience and he’s a fantastic guy and great in the locker room. I’m happy he’s returning to this club.”