After a professional playing career spent entirely in Portugal to that point, João Meira arrived in Chicago early in 2016 ready for a new challenge.
On Saturday (Nov. 18), Meira announced on his social media channels that his time as a member of the Fire had come to an end, with an eye toward a return home to Portugal for he and his young family.
In between, Meira established himself as an important cog in Chicago's turnaround from 2016 to 2017, starting 53 of his 58 MLS regular season appearances at centerback (and occasionally in defensive midfield). In 2017, Meira played the fourth-most regular season minutes of any Fire player and managed to lead the club in passing accuracy for the year (90.03%).
Meira was a central figure in Fire defenses that in 2016 established a club-record shutout streak (412 minutes) and in 2017 saw the unit allow only two goals in a span of seven MLS matches from May 17 to July 1, facilitating the club's third-place finish in the MLS Supporters' Shield standings.
Read Meira's full farewell to the Fire community in the Instagram post below. Best wishes to João and his family in the future!
I'd like to announce that I will not be a member of @chicagofire for the 2018 season. Thanks for these two years of my career and best of luck to all my teammates who stay at the club. To you Fire fans, @sectorlatino12 and @section8chicago, I really appreciate how you have treated me since I arrived. You guys are the soul of the Fire! Looking forward for my new next challenge! ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️Gostaria de anunciar que não irei pertencer ao @chicagofire na temporada de 2018. Obrigado por estes 2 anos da minha carreira e desejo o melhor tanto para o clube, como para todos os meus colegas que ficarão. Para os fans, @sectorlatino12 e @section8chicago queria agradecer a maneira como me trataram desde que cheguei ao clube. Vocês são a alma do Fire! Desejoso de começar o meu novo capítulo! #mls #chicago #soccer #football #futbol #futebol #news #nextstep #moveforward #photography #photooftheday #picoftheday #instagram #instaday #instadaily #instamood #instatag