By DAN ITEL
Mike Magee is expecting to make his season debut Saturday in the Chicago Fire’s home opener against the New York Red Bulls, the reigning MLS Most Valuable Player told reporters Wednesday, while also taking the opportunity to dispel any rumors of a “bust-up” with head coach Frank Yallop.
Magee has been out with a hamstring injury, forcing him to miss the Fire’s first two regular season games, the latest setback for the striker after food poisoning forced him to sit out the U.S. Men’s National Team’s friendly against South Korea in January. Magee told reporters Wednesday that “expectations are high” for his 2014 debut.
“Sometimes things happen,” he said. “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.”
Magee was left out of the 18 in Chicago’s last game, a 1-1 draw Sunday with the Portland Timbers, leading to a report that he and Yallop had a pregame “bust-up” over the decision. Magee refuted the rumor on Twitter, accompanied with a photo of himself and the Fire manager smiling (above).
“I was not expecting to play any part against Portland,” Magee said. “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.”
Here are some more MLS notes to catch you up on the latest league news:
TORONTO COUNCIL VOTES TO ENDORSE $10 MILLION FOR BMO FIELD UPGRADE
Toronto FC got an offseason upgrade, and now their home grounds are one step closer to getting a makeover as well.
Toronto city council’s executive committee endorsed putting $10 million toward the expansion of BMO Field on Wednesday. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, TFC’s ownership group, is seeking that amount from the city to help cover the estimated $120 million price tag of renovating the facility.
Embattled mayor Rob Ford provided the only no vote.
“I am delighted that save for one vote there was very strong support for the city’s contribution to the expansion of BMO Field,” deputy mayor Norm Kelly told reporters Wednesday morning. “It is an investment that will return considerable revenue to the city and it will facilitate the growth of soccer in the city while at the same time protecting the legacy of Canadian football.”
The renovations would include increasing the permanent seating capacity to 30,000 from the current 21,566 and adding a partial roof that would cover a majority of the seats.
MLSE is also planning to reconfigure the field to allow the facility to host the Toronto Argonauts, the Canadian Football League team also owned by MLSE that currently calls the Rogers Centre home.
MLSE is putting $90 million toward the project, according to reports, and is also seeking another $10 million each from provincial and federal governments.
THORRINGTON JOINS MLS PLAYERS UNION
Former U.S. Men’s National Team and MLS midfielder John Thorrington has joined the MLS Players Union as a special assistant to executive director Bob Foose.
Announced Wednesday in a release, Thorrington’s focus will be on the Union’s upcoming collective bargaining negotiations with the league.
The 34-year-old South African-born Thorrington retired from his playing career after spending the 2013 season with D.C. United. His long and distinguished career started when he became the youngest American to sign with an English Premier League side when he joined Manchester United at the age of 17.
After a stints in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen and The Championship’s Huddersfield Town, Thorrington came to MLS with the Chicago Fire in 2005, where he played for five seasons. He also played for two seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps, serving as the Union player representative at all three MLS clubs.
“John Thorrington is a tremendous addition for the Players Union,” Forde said in a release. “He obviously had a fantastic career on the field. However, he also brings a wealth of off the field experience to the Union. He was a central figure in our leadership for all of his time in the league, including throughout the last CBA negotiation. He is in many ways the perfect advocate for our members at this crucial time in our history.”
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