The Chicago Daily Herald is reporting that reigning MLS MVP Mike Magee is holding out for a new contract from the Chicago Fire. Magee is currently in the second year of a three-year deal that he signed as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy. In retrospect, a holdout was always an option after the season that Magee had in 2013. He deserves to be paid for what he did for the Fire last year, but the timing of the supposed holdout is peculiar.
Chicago technical director Brian Bliss dismissed the report and said that Magee is taking a personal leave for four or five days after being involved in media week for MLS. Bliss also said that they are not negotiating a new deal for Magee. This could be interpreted as masking the holdout, or the club may never have been approached. Magee was not available for the last preseason match in Tucson.
The contract he is working on was negotiated at a championship team full of large contracts. According to the MLS Players Union, Magee, 29, had a base salary of $185,000 and $191,666.67 in guaranteed compensation last season. He earned every bit as the Fire were in the dumps when he arrived in late May. Magee scored 15 goals for the Fire and made them a threat in the Eastern Conference, only to miss out on the playoffs via a tiebreaker.
Still, with the season only two weeks away, one must wonder why this would come up now. Magee comes off a USMNT camp in which he got food poisoning that kept him out of the match with South Korea. He also had a minor injury earlier in the preseason training in Bradenton. Magee has had plenty of time to make his wishes known to the management of the Fire, and his agent at the Wasserman Media Group could have done the leg work. Now, it becomes a distraction.
Magee deserves a raise, but the salary cap will come into play for the Chicago Fire. If he is holding out, he should stop, return to training and negotiate as the season opens. It will show his commitment to his teammates and eliminate a distraction. The team is better with Magee, so any missed time could hurt their playoff hopes.