D.C. United forward Eddie Johnson has signed his Designated Player deal and Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee, the reigning MLS MVP, is close to one of his own, thus bringing an end to the league’s two most high-profile standoffs a few days before the start of the season.
Both players entered 2014 under contract, but both wanted, and likely deserved, a raise.
Johnson's contract was announced Thursday afternoon, but United didn't disclose the terms. SI.com understands that Johnson, who’s been in camp with United since returning from U.S. national team duty, was offered a two-year deal worth an average of $600,000 per season. That’s still below the $875,000 he made as a rising star in Kansas City in 2005, but it represents a big bump from the $156,333.33 in annual compensation earned last season. It makes Johnson, 29, the highest paid player in D.C.
"Eddie is an elite striker who is in the prime of his career, and we are thrilled that he has made a commitment to D.C. United," GM Dave Kasper said. "We look forward to Eddie's contributions on and off the field."
Johnson's desire to be a DP ended his two-year tenure with the Seattle Sounders. There was interest from the L.A. Galaxy, where there also was a DP glut, as well as the Portland Timbers, Philadelphia Union and United. Johnson has hinted that he had options in Mexico as well but that MLS was unwilling to sell his rights south of the border.
The Washington Post reported early Thursday that Johnson was considering a deal “rang[ing] from“$500,000 to $750,000 with multiple guaranteed years.”
Magee, 29, returned to his hometown Fire last spring on a contract worth $191,666.67 in total annual earnings. Now he’s on the verge of inking a multi-year deal that will pay him around $450,000-$500,000 per season, SI.com has learned.
Magee’s negotiations with the Fire haven’t progressed smoothly, but they appear close to being finalized. He originally was scheduled to join the club in Tucson on Feb. 18 after making media and marketing appearances on the league’s behalf in New York, but instead chose to return to Chicago. Local media reported that Magee was holding out.
He eventually turned out for training on Feb. 28. A few days later, Magee called the holdout claims “made up” and insisted he was in Chicago to tend to a “personal situation.”
A source told SI.com, however, that Magee’s absence was in fact related to his frustration with the pace of negotiations. The MVP chose to keep that to himself and opted to return to the Fire as a sign of good faith.
Chicago opens the 2014 season on Sunday at Chivas USA. Johnson and United will host the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening.