Mike Magee makes great first impression on new Fire coach Frank Yallop
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media February 7, 2014 8:56PM
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Updated: February 7, 2014 10:49PM
Mike Magee and Frank Yallop didn’t need much time to impress each other.
Back from his time with the U.S. national team, the reigning Major League Soccer MVP joined the Fire on Thursday in Bradenton, Fla., for preseason activities. And after hearing about Yallop from teammates, Magee was able to see his new coach’s demeanor for himself.
“I’ve always heard that he’s a great guy,’’ Magee said. ‘‘He’s a guy who likes to enjoy himself, and, at the same time, he’s kind of got a ‘get on the bus or get under it’ mentality, which is perfect for me. If a guy doesn’t want to work hard for his teammates, then he won’t be here, and we’re going to enjoy ourselves while doing that.”
Magee’s return to training came after an eventful friendly against South Korea last Saturday in Carson, Calif. The United States won 2-0, but Magee was unable to play because of food poisoning.
“I’m good,” Magee said. “I’m still struggling a little bit with food, but in comparison to how I felt about, whatever it was, four days ago, I’m a million bucks.”
Magee was probably worth that much or more to the Fire in 2013. His arrival and emergence as one of the premier players in MLS almost pushed the team into the playoffs despite a slow start.
Early in their working relationship, Yallop likes what he sees.
“Looks real sharp,” Yallop said. “He’s one of those guys that comes in and just looks class.”
With Magee and goalkeeper Sean Johnson back from the national team, Yallop has two of his most important players in the fold. He now can start to implement his tactics and system, which relies on up-tempo play and pushing for possession.
Magee, who scored 15 goals in 22 games for the Fire, will be a big part of that.
“He’s in good spirits, looked good, looked sharp, looked fit,” Yallop said. “It’s good to have him back.”
As camp and the season wear on, there also will be an emphasis on team chemistry. To Magee, that process already is going well.
“The coaching staff has done an amazing job of jelling this team together in a quick amount of time and getting everyone to fight for each other, and it’s only been a week,” Magee said. “It’s all the little things we’re taking care of now that will pay dividends throughout the course of the season.”
The Fire will face D.C. United on Saturday in Bradenton in their second preseason game.