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By ESPN Staff

Defender returns to France

DENVER -- Gilles Grimandi, citing family and personal reasons, has decided to leave the Colorado Rapids and return to his native France.

Grimandi, a former Arsenal defender, signed with Major League Soccer in January. He played in one preseason game with the Rapids on March 12 against Mexican club Santos Laguna.

``The Colorado Rapids' organization is deeply saddened by Gilles Grimandi's decision to return to France,'' Colorado Rapids general manager Dan Counce said Wednesday. ``The player has cited family and personal reasons as the main factors influencing his decision to separate himself from the Rapids and MLS as of today.

``The Colorado Rapids, while disappointed by his choice, respect the player's personal freedom in making such a decision.''

The agreement between Grimandi and the league gives the Rapids salary budget room for a top quality replacement.