Chesty’s Return: Magee's Fire connections

Back in Chicago, Magee reunites with old friend

Amos Magee, Chicago Fire

Photo Credit: 
Chicago Fire

When Julian Posada became Chicago Fire president last September, an old friend out in Portland noticed.

No, he doesn’t have some connection to Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, at least none that I know of. Rather it was Portland assistant coach and former Fire striker Amos Magee that got in contact with the new leader of the Fire.

Posada and Magee grew up in East Lansing, MI during their formative years. Posada, played varsity soccer at East Lansing High School with Magee’s older brother Sasha, while Amos, the standout player, joined Julian’s younger brother Mitch on the Trojans varsity a few years later.

“We grew up in the same neighborhood in East Lansing,” the Fire President said Friday. “During the 1986 World Cup he would come over to the house and watch the games with our family.”

Magee has similar memories of watching the games broadcast from Mexico.

“The Posada’s had set up a 3v3 soccer field in their backyard,” he said. “At halftime of the games we’d run out and play, have a quick tournament and then come back in and watch the second half. I spent a lot of that summer, a lot of that World Cup at the Posada house.”

As many do, Julian and Amos lost contact after high school. Posada went on to become a successful businessman. Magee a professional soccer player, spent most of his career with the Minnesota Thunder of the United Soccer Leagues, played indoors for the Milwaukee Wave and made intermittent appearances in MLS with the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Chicago Fire.

“I lost track of him,” said Posada. “Then shortly into my time here with the Fire, I received a random e-mail from him asking if I was the ‘Julian Posada’ he knew from East Lansing. The Fire staff informed me of his tremendous career in professional soccer and I got to see him when we played Portland back in April. It’s funny, we hadn’t seen each other in 20 years and unpredictably our paths converged and it’s nice because Amos is a great human being.”

Posada reminisced about Magee’s ability back in the neighborhood saying, “He was always a special talent, even as a little kid. He’s never been the biggest guy, but he had tremendous presence on the field. He was standout, definitely much better than I ever was.”

Call-ups and the legend of “Chesty”

Magee would be the first to tell you that he’s far from a club legend in Chicago, having spent almost the entirety of his playing career with the Thunder. Still in MLS' early years, teams had arranged agreements to call-up players from certain USL (then called the A-League) clubs. It was these arrangements that allowed Magee the opportunity to play with the Mutiny in 2000 and then intermittently with the Fire from 2001-02.

It was during one of his call-ups in 2001 that he became known to Fire fans as “Chesty”.

“The team had injuries and international call-ups I think and they called on me to come in for an Open Cup game [against the San Diego Flash on June 27]. I played pretty well in that match, went back to Minnesota and they called me again for the quarterfinal game against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Wheaton. We were tied 2-2 and Bob [Bradley] sent me on at the end of regulation.”

Extra time came and Magee, the Fire player with the freshest legs would go on to score the 114th minute winner.

“Sergi Daniv whipped in a ball and I was curling towards the back post. It was a wet, dewy night at that point and I knew the ball was going to skip. It was going at such a high speed and I didn’t think I could use my head. This was all in a split second, so I decided to run it in. It kind of skipped off the ground and I threw my chest out with a nice back arch and chested it in past the keeper. Chesty kind of stuck from there. That was certainly my best memory in a Fire shirt.”

Magee was hailed for again for the tournament semifinal at LA but, “Eric Wynalda passed the fitness test, so even though they flew me out, I didn’t make the 18.”

The 5-8 striker returned to the Fire fold during parts of the 2002 season, with perhaps his best individual performance coming when he scored two goals in a 5-4 victory over Columbus at Cardinal Stadium in Naperville. Magee played in two more matches for the Fire that season before returning to Minnesota.

“I probably made eight or nine apperances for the Fire across all competitions over those two years. At the end of 2002, Bob left for New York, and Dave [Sarachan] invited me to training camp at the start of 2003.”

For the record, Magee made eight official apperances for the Fire, six in MLS play and two in the U.S. Open Cup.

Transition to Coaching

During the camp in Florida, Magee and Sarachan sat down for a cup of coffee where the player revealed he’d been offered a couple player/assistant coaching positions.

“Dave said he’d love to have me stay on with the Fire but if I wanted to get into coaching, those situations would be too good to pass up. I left and went back to Minnesota and eventually became a player/assistant coach and at that point, my formal ties to the Fire ended, though I have remained a fan.”

Magee stayed in that role with the Thunder through 2004 when he retired from playing and became a full-time assistant to Buzz Lagos in 2005. During his time with the Thunder, Magee became the club’s all-time leading scorer with 64 goals and 39 assists. He also led the club to six USL First Division finals appearances as well as the 1999 league championship.

After Lagos’ retirement, Magee took the Thunder’s head coaching reins in 2006 and led the club through mid 2008.

While he only had a few moments Fire fans would remember, it was in Minnesota where Magee really left his mark, becoming one of the most feared strikers in the United Soccer Leagues at the time. In recognition of his playing days, he was inducted into the USL Hall of Fame in November 2008.

It was then that he also made another significant career move, joining the Portland Timbers as the club’s Director of Soccer Development, also serving as an assistant coach to then Timbers manager Gavin Wilkinson. Now working under Jon Spencer with the club’s move to MLS this year, Magee is also head coach of the Timbers Reserves.

“Portland is fantastic. We’ve got a good group in here. We’ve hit the skids a little bit and lost our confidence but that happens with a young team. It doesn’t have anything to really fall back on. Overall though I’m very pleased to have been a part of this first MLS season in Portland, it’s a special place and I’m thankful to be a part of it.”

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.