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Chicago Fire sign defender Marcelo from Sporting Lisbon

Apr 14, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire fans react during the first half against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Bridgeview Stadium. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Fire’s back line is getting an overhaul this winter and the first reinforcement has arrived.

The Fire inked a transfer from Sporting Lisbon for Brazilian defender Marcelo on Thursday. The 5-foot-10 centerback signed a two-year deal.

Marcelo, 29, joined Sporting Lisbon from another Portuguese club, Rio Ave, this past summer. He had been with Rio Ave since July 2011, racking up 152 league appearances in the Primeira Liga over the course of six seasons.

Things hadn’t gone as smoothly at Sporting though. He had only one appearance to his name, a cup game on Halloween that Sporting lost at home. His lack of playing time is what opened up his availability, though the Fire still paid a transfer fee.

“Marcelo will add necessary leadership along our back line,” Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez said in the team’s statement. “He is a smart defender who participates in every phase of the game. He is known as a solid teammate and he is driven to win, which fits our locker room well.”

The Fire dipped into Portugal for an out of favor defender three winters ago when the club acquired Joao Meira. Meira made 59 MLS appearances for the Fire in two seasons.

Marcelo comes when it appears the entire Fire back line could change. Left back Brandon Vincent retired, center back Johan Kappelhof and right back Matt Polster are out of contract and have options overseas. Polster recently trialed with Rangers in Scotland. Center back Jonathan Campbell, who made 72 appearances in three years with the Fire, had his option declined. Bastian Schweinsteiger is back and he did play some center back last season, but it remains to be seen if he will be used in that role again in 2019.

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