Mike Magee denied Monday that he was a holdout during an extended absence last month and said that personal issues leading to missed training time with the Chicago Fire have been resolved.
The Fire forward, who scored 21 goals and earned 2013 Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player honors, spoke publicly for the first time in several weeks after the team's lone local workout before Sunday’s 2014 season opener at Chivas USA.
“I was not holding out,” said Magee, who rejoined the team late last week. “My personal situation is resolved.”
Published reports suggested Magee’s absence for much of February was a bid for a new or revised Fire contract. He echoed last week’s team statements that his time away was personal.
Magee, under contract through the 2015 season, said he’d welcome a new deal if one were offered but he wasn’t actively seeking one.
“That’s not up to me,” he said. “I wish I wrote my own contract but unfortunately it’s someone else’s decision. If they offer me a long contract for a lot of money, I’d surely sign. ... I’d love to sign a long-term deal and play here forever, but that’s not up to me.”
Fire coach Frank Yallop said Magee could be an option for Sunday’s game.
“He’s got a little bit of catching up to do with his fitness,” Yallop said. “(But) he’s here to play, he’s back now and he’s excited. He’s over his injuries and he’s over the stuff he had. He’s good to go and chomping at the bit for me to give him that green light.
“He’ll be involved, for sure; in what capacity we’ll figure that out.”
The Fire held a 90-minute training session at the Bridgeview Sports Dome and will participate in Tuesday’s season kickoff luncheon at a downtown hotel.
They depart Wednesday for Los Angeles and Sunday’s opener and could remain away from Chicago to train in warmer weather in advance of a March 16 game at Portland.
“Preseason is a obviously a pretty important time and and to miss a couple weeks with the guys was hard,” said Magee, who made a brief appearance in the final minutes of last Saturday’s 2-0 victory over CD Guadalajara in the Fire's exhibition season finale. “(But) my fitness is great, I started preseason about four months ago so I’m good.”
The Fire open their home season on March 23 against the New York Red Bulls.
NOTE: The Fire acquired defender Greg Cochrane from the Galaxy in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
“Greg is a young, versatile player with a lot of potential,” Fire coach Frank Yallop said in a statement. “He gained valuable experience during his rookie season and we’re glad to have him join our squad to provide some additional depth.”
Selected 38th overall by the Galaxy in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Cochrane started in nine of his 12 MLS appearances for the Galaxy.