In a big move on Monday afternoon, the Chicago Fire have traded former Rookie of the Year Austin Berry to the Philadelphia Union for allocation money. Chicago has also released Uruguayan forward Federico Puppo. This comes on the heels of rumors that reigning MLS MVP,Mike Magee is holding out for a new deal. Despite denying that news, it is clear that Chicago are reshaping their roster to pay Magee.
Terminating the contract of Puppo was labeled as a move to get cap compliance. He made $125,000 in guaranteed compensation in the 2013 season, and Berry made just over $78,000 in compensation last year. Puppo made 12 appearances for the Fire while Berry started 34 matches in central defense last season after starting 29 in his stellar rookie campaign.
Berry became expendable with the integration of veterans Bakary Soumare and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who are expected to start. Patrick Ianni provides depth. Berry may have been the easiest to shop because of his age and lower salary. Therefore Chicago would get the most amount of allocation money for Berry so they can cover an increase in Magee’s salary as well as the contract of newly acquired Benji Joya.
Magee put his club in a tough spot after missing time in the preseason with a minor injury and then heading off to a USMNT camp. Now he demands more money two weeks prior to the season, but his presence changed this team last year. He deserves to be paid, but the Fire were already juggling money to make all the pieces fit. It had to be a tough spot for the Fire leadership, but they did what they had to in this case. It just cost them a player with a lot of promise.
Now it is up to Magee to replicate his 2013 season and make any negative discussion about him or the team go away. If he puts the ball in the net no ill words will be spoken. The growing narrative about Magee being selfish or greedy can go away regardless. He deserves a bigger paycheck. The current regime inherited a bad financial situation so they chose to pay Magee and ship out youth. Let’s see how it plays out on the field.