BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire striker Mike Magee is ready to put the frustration of a turbulent, injury-bitten preseason behind him by playing a part in his side’s home opener against the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park on Sunday (3 pm ET, UniMas).
The league’s reigning Most Valuable Player did not appear in either of the team’s first two games this season while battling a hamstring injury, the latest recent setback that also saw him miss a chance to appear for the US national team in January because of food poisoning.
“Sometimes things happen,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “Sometimes it’s in your favor, sometimes it’s not. Obviously I don’t want food poisoning and I don’t want negative speculation and I don’t want hamstring injuries. But having said that, my season’s going to start Sunday and I’m very excited.
“It should be my first game, home opener, expectations are high for myself personally and for the group,” he added. “I’m excited to get to play with some of these young guys and get off on the right foot.”
Magee, who turned the Fire’s season around with 15 goals in 22 games after his arrival from LA Galaxy last May, was an unused substitute in the 3-2 loss at Chivas USA on the opening weekend, but did not make the 18-man squad for last Sunday’s 1-1 tie at the Portland Timbers.
“I was not expecting to play any part against Portland,” he admitted. “It’s very frustrating, but it’s what’s best. You always want to start the season on the right foot, but I [injured] a hamstring and every time I felt like I was coming back and pushing it I was getting minor setbacks, as opposed to letting it linger all year.
“I think we made the right choice by trying to get rid of it. I’m very optimistic about playing some part on Sunday.”
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Asked if he was at 100 percent fitness or close to it, Magee responded positively.
“Yeah, and if I wasn’t I’d probably lie to you,” he said. “I’m confident, and in this league there’s no chance for excuses, but I’m good to go.”
Fire head coach Frank Yallop shared Magee’s optimism and acknowledged Magee will play some kind of role on Sunday.
“He’s training with us so hopefully he’ll be OK,” Yallop told reporters. “He should play some sort of role on Sunday if he gets through all this [practice] first.”