Frank Yallop and Brian Bliss, the two men in charge of the Chicago Fire's soccer operations, insist that 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee was in Chicago for the past few weeks due to “personal matters” while the Fire trained in Tucson, Ariz., not a contract hold-out as has been reported by multiple publications.
“It's for personal matters and reasons, that's what it is, not holding out, or all the words that he's been shopped around,” Yallop, the coach and director of soccer operations, said on a conference call Friday. “Mike had certain things he had to take care of, he took care of it, and I think he looks good and sharp, and he's good to go. But he needs to catch up on his fitness.”
- 2014 Preview: Does Magee have another MVP in him? | Analyst
Magee, who Yallop said is recovering from a hamstring injury, returned to camp on Wednesday, and he trained twice on Friday, once by himself and once with the team.
The 2013 MLS MVP went to Bradenton, Fla., to train with the team in early February – shortly after national team camp ended – but he returned to Chicago just days later. This week, the Daily Herald in Chicago reported that Magee, who has two years left on his contract, was holding out for a better deal.
Bliss, the team's technical director, said he's been in touch with Magee's agent, Richard Motzkin, but he insists they didn't discuss restructuring his contract.
“I've been in touch with him over the last week, week-and-a-half, probably three times, maybe four times, something like that,” Bliss said, adding that some of those conversations were about Motzkin's other players on the team. “We were just checking in to see where Mike was at and what he was doing. Frank had a little bit of direct contact with Mike as well, probably as often as I had contact with the agent.”
- For complete coverage, go to Chicago-Fire.com
Yallop said Magee will be available when the Fire's season kicks off next Sunday in Los Angeles against Chivas USA, though he didn't say he would start.
“I'm hoping he's available, but in what capacity, I'll decide that later in the week,” Yallop said. “He's been training two days now. He's a fit kid, but to catch up to speed after two-and-a-half weeks, with a hamstring injury as well, he's just getting over that. He looked pretty good [Friday]. We'll see how he gets on over the next couple of weeks.
“There's no rush to get Mike back as soon as we can. I just want to make sure we don't push him too quickly and he reinjures anything.”