Mike Magee is back in the Chicago Fire fold, and he says his commitment to his hometown club was never in doubt.
Meeting with Chicago media on Monday for the first time this preseason, Magee dismissed reports that he'd staged a contract holdout last month, insisting that his absence from the Fire's Arizona training camp was entirely due to a “personal situation” which has since been resolved.
“I don’t know who told you that, but no one told me that,” Magee told the Chicago Daily Herald, which last week cited a source claiming that his time away from the team was related to dissatisfaction with his current contract. “I was not holding out.”
The 2013 Volkswagen MLS MVP rejoined coach Frank Yallop's squad in Tucson, Ariz., on Feb. 26 and made a cameo in the Fire's final preseason match on Saturday, a 2-0 win over Chivas Rayadas, Chivas Guadalajara's developmental team.
Magee said he's open to an improved deal with Chicago.
“That’s not up to me. I wish I wrote my own contract, but unfortunately it’s someone else’s decision,” he said after the Fire's Monday training session at an indoor facility near their Toyota Park home. “If they offered me a long contract with a lot of money, I’d surely sign it.”
Magee didn't find the net against Chivas Rayadas, but he did earn a yellow card that earned him some light ribbing from Yallop and his teammates. Alluding to his stint with the US national team during their January camp, the former LA Galaxy man expressed confidence that missing more than a week with the Fire won't disrupt his start to the regular season.
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“My fitness is great,” Magee said. “I started preseason about four months ago, so I’m good.”
Magee has been hampered by a hamstring issue of late, but he said on Monday that the injury is behind him and Yallop sounded likely to use him in some capacity when Chicago visit Chivas USA in their 2014 MLS season opener on Sunday (3 pm ET, UniMas).
“He’s chomping at the bit for me to give him that green light,” Yallop told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He’ll be involved for sure. What capacity? We’ll figure that out but he’ll be ready to go next Sunday for sure.”