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Mike Magee on the MLS Orlando plan: “I personally think I’d want to play”

The former MLS MVP talks to Hot Time about the league’s plan to play matches while in quarantine in Orlando, and the “sneaky” way he’s trying to help during the pandemic

Chicago Fire v Vancouver Whitecaps
Mike Magee from 2013
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Mike Magee went through a lot during his 14 years in Major League Soccer. He won titles with the LA Galaxy, and won a league MVP with the Chicago Fire. He was with the MetroStars when they re-branded to become the Red Bulls. Magee even had a clean sheet in a random, emergency appearance as a goalkeeper.

But nothing could have prepared him for this.

“It’s an insane scenario,” Magee told Hot Time in Old Town.

According to several reports, MLS is considering a plan to host at tournament in Orlando, where all 26 teams would live in quarantine at Disney hotels. Understandably, reaction has been mixed, with players concerned about the health risks, the time away from their families, and essentially being stuck in a bubble for up to two months.

“It’s a really tough one,” Magee said. “I personally think I’d want to play. Normally, I have stronger opinions, but I’d want to play, I’d be dying to play. Getting to Orlando in a safe environment, I’d be totally fine with it. But, I also completely understand the guys that are weary, and don’t think it’s worth it, and are worried about their risk and their family’s risk. I think I would probably leave my family somewhere, and try to make it work, but I get it.”

The Athletic reports the league would be divided into four groups, and each team would play five group stage games. The top two teams from each group would advance to a knockout round. It’s unclear what would be at stake for winning the tournament, but the five group stage games would count toward the regular season standings, with an eye on returning to local markets to finish the season.

For Magee, it means either all the players need to be on board, or they should decide collectively to back out.

“I’d want to play,” Magee said. “I’d want to play for fans, get out there. Guys work really hard. But I can’t reiterate enough that the guy that feels like he or his family is at risk, I would put aside my wanting to play, and join them.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of people involved we could speak to, and get a really good grasp. And, if at the end of that, they couldn’t convince us, I think the players would probably have to band together and not play. But, I’d be dying to play. I’m dying to play now, and I can’t even move anymore.”

Recapturing the Fire

The Chicago Fire had a ton of momentum going before the coronavirus hiatus kicked in. They had only captured one point out of six in their first two road matches, but they looked strong in both, and were looking forward to seeing 40,000-plus fans in the stands in their first match back at Soldier Field.

That’s on hold for now, but Magee thinks new owner Joe Mansueto’s investment will improve the club dramatically.

“‘I’ve been in contact with them, and Joe is the real deal,” Magee said. “They’re finally gonna build a culture, and a way of doing things that the fans will be proud of, and something that they could build off of. The team’s new offices are insane. He’s hired a ton of people. They’re giving the players the resources they need. The bottom line is the efforts they’re making to do the right thing is very easy to see for me. And being a Chicago kid, with this being the first team I loved, it’s really cool.”

The “Sneaky” way Magee’s helping people

These days, Magee is running a spirits company that he founded, called “Sneaky Fox.” He said sales are down because of the pandemic, because his company was set up more for “on premise” sales, meaning bars and restaurants, rather than liquor stores.

Two weeks or so into the stay-at-home order, Magee shut down vodka production, and transitioned the company to make “Sneaky Clean” hand sanitizer. So far, he said they’ve produced over a million pounds of hand sanitizer, and they gave away a huge amount for free.

“We donated to every single fire station and police department in Chicago,” Magee said. “We donated 500 pounds to Northwestern. We donated to homeless in New York and Connecticut. And tons of bars and restaurants Sneaky Fox is in.”

For Magee, until bars and restaurants are allowed to open again, it’s a way of staying busy, and helping however he can.

“We’re really proud of what we’ve done,” he said.