Mike Magee clears the air, eager for new deal
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media March 3, 2014 9:41PM
Chicago Fire midfielder Mike Magee celebrates after scoring from a penalty kick during a match June 19. | AP Photo~Nam Y. Huh
Updated: April 5, 2014 6:21AM
Mike Magee finally got the chance to clear up the speculation. He didn’t need long to do it.
“I was not holding out,” Magee said Monday after the Fire’s training session in Bridgeview.
“My personal situation is resolved.”
Per one report, Magee was missing from the team’s training camp in hopes of getting a new contract. The Fire adamantly denied a holdout, saying he was dealing with both personal issues and a hamstring problem.
The stance didn’t change Monday, and Magee was glad to be with the Fire again.
“It’s great. Preseason’s obviously a pretty important time,” Magee said. “Missing a couple weeks with the guys was hard but getting back in here is, it’s a little better. As much as I want to be with the guys I don’t mind missing some running and all that. Definitely glad to be here.”
That said, Magee could probably use a new deal.
According to the MLS players union, Magee was 10th on the Fire last season with a guaranteed salary of $191,666.67 as part of a deal that runs through next season. He signed that contract as a member of the L.A. Galaxy, and before his breakout 2013 season.
Magee said he’d “love to sign a long-term deal and play here forever but that’s not up to me.” To complicate matters, the Fire are squeezed near the salary cap and would strain to accommodate a new deal.
“I’ve got to be offered something in order to sign something,” Magee said.
Even if Magee doesn’t get a new contract, he’ll be part of the Fire this season. How much a part for Sunday’s season opener at Chivas USA isn’t clear.
The reigning MLS MVP, Magee returned to the team late last Wednesday. He took part in two training sessions Friday and came in as a substitute in the 69th minute during their 2-0 win Saturday over the Chivas de Guadalajara developmental team in Tucson, Ariz.
“My fitness is great,” Magee said. “I started preseason about four months ago, so I’m good.”
That doesn’t mean Magee’s guaranteed to start. Unlike his teammates, Saturday was his first game action of the preseason, and coach Frank Yallop doesn’t want to rush him back for one game at the expense of more in the future.
“He’s chomping at the bit for me to give him that green light,” Yallop said. “He’ll be involved for sure. What capacity? We’ll figure that out but he’ll be ready to go next Sunday for sure.”
Starter or not, Magee’s teammates are glad to see him back.
“Soccer-wise it’s great. Everybody knows the kind of talent he has,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “Also off the field, personality-wise he brings something special to our team. It doesn’t change because that’s just who he is and we always welcome him to be back and enjoy having him around.”