Magee for MVP? - Fire best in MLS since acquiring veteran forward

The Fire's all time club worst start to the 2013 campaign put them in such a deep hole that it's taken the entire season to dig back out of it. A 2-7-2 record through the month of April ensured that the team would be playing catch up for the rest of the season. Despite numerous missed opportunities to move up in the table and several late goals resulting in maddening dropped points, the Fire have quietly established the best record in MLS over the last five months of the season.

An 11-5-5 mark since June 1 puts them ahead of every club in MLS during that time period. This includes Supporter's Shield contenders New York, Sporting Kansas City, Seattle, Portland, and Real Salt Lake. Of course the parity throughout the league and the inability of other clubs in the East to close down a playoff spot has helped the Fire get back above the red line but their record since June 1 shouldn't be any less impressive when you consider there have been as many opportunities to fade away as there have been to move up the table.

A large part of why they haven't just faded away should be credited to forward Mike Magee and the immediate infusion of a winner's mentality that was evident from his first step onto the pitch for Chicago. That attitude has been backed up by a career high 19 goal season that has him tied for the Golden Boot lead. Six of those scores came while playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy but his thirteen in Chicago have pushed him to the forefront of league MVP discussion. It's no coincidence that the league best record since June 1 coincides directly with the acquisition of Magee (and Bakary Soumare who played in the last match of May - a 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake). Other in-season acquisitions in Egidio Arevalo Rios and Juan Luis Anangono have helped but their individual impact hasn't been as critical as Magee's.

Here's what the standings looked like on June 1 - before Magee:

East

New York 7-4-4           25 pts

Montreal 7-2-2            23 pts

Sporting KC 6-4-4       22 pts

Houston 6-4-3              21 pts

Philadelphia 5-5-3      18 pts

Columbus 4-3-5           17 pts

New England 4-4-4     16 pts

Chicago 2-7-2                 8 pts

Toronto FC 1-7-4          7 pts

DC United 1-10-2          4 pts

West

FC Dallas 8-2-3             27 pts

Portland 5-1-7             22 pts

Real Salt Lake 6-5-3   21 pts

Los Angeles 6-4-2      20 pts

Colorado 5-4-4            19 pts

Seattle 4-4-3                15 pts

San Jose 3-5-6            15 pts

Vancouver 3-4-4      13 pts

Chivas USA 3-7-2     11 pts

The numbers don't lie. The Fire were in a world of hurt at the end of May with a considerable ten point deficit between themselves and the fifth spot in the East. Magee was officially acquired on May 25 but his first game on the field for the Fire in MLS regular season play was a 2-0 win over DC United on June 2. Magee scored the Fire's second goal in that match but his presence as a go-to player had already been established with a goal in the Fire's 2-0 US Open Cup victory over Charlotte just a few days earlier. He didn't stop scoring from there, continuing to tally in his first five consecutive games across all competitions for the Fire. His arrival changed the season for Chicago.

Here's a look at the table since June 1 - or after Magee:

East

Chicago 11-5-5          38 pts

Sporting KC 9-6-3    30 pts

New England 8-7-5  29 pts

New York 8-5-4        28 pts

Philadelphia 7-5-7  28 pts

Houston 7-6-6          27 pts

Columbus 8-12-0     24 pts

Montreal 6-9-5         23 pts

Toronto FC 4-9-7    19 pts

DC United 2-13-5     11 pts

West

Seattle 11-7-3           34 pts

San Jose 10-6-2       32 pts

Portland 8-4-7         31 pts

Vancouver 9-7-5   3o pts

Real Salt Lake 9-5-4 29 pts

Colorado 8-6-5         29 pts

Los Angeles 8-7-4   28 pts

Chivas USA 3-11-6   15 pts

FC Dallas 2-9-8          14 pts

Sitting at the top of the heap after a five month span has to be a little bit more than coincidence or a temporary streak of good form. The Fire can be as dangerous as any team in MLS when completely fit and playing cohesively. That's not to say they're the best team in the league now. That's not the case by any means. They're still much too porous defensively, allow an alarming amount of possession for the opposition at times, and passing needs to improve overall but the numbers show that they can at least challenge with what they have. Magee's performance has been the key to all of that.

If the Fire fail to make the playoffs it will probably be a long shot for Magee and his MVP chances. If they do qualify, he should be the front runner. Magee will tell you none of it matters if they don't make the playoffs or end up winning it all but when assessing an individual award based on regular season play he certainly deserves to win it.

Goals + wins = MVP

 

 

Filed under: 2013 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • Number don't lie, but the mood of the season is absolutely deceptive. Even through the last few months of solid play, it's been difficult at times to maintain positivity.

    It appears it really is a case of the first 45 days of the season being insurmountable if they don't make the playoffs. Can't doubt the resolve and fight in the team to play as well as they have since Magee's injection into the club, and even though reality will play out differently, he still deserves the MVP nod if they miss the playoffs, simply for what he brought to the club and what they did with him a part of it.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    That wretched start combined with the USOC semi-final loss and certain "editorials" haven't helped the mood throughout the season.

    Regardless, the guy has earned it.

  • I absolutely agree that he should be in the conversation for MVP, and the numbers that we know he has put up plus the team stats Guillermo shared here make an excellent case. But I think that the voters - represented in this case by certain podcast pundits - are holding out to see if the Fire make the playoffs.

    The worst thing is, I can envision a scenario where one of the darlings - a Keane or Donovan or Agudelo - plays a starring role over the last few regular season games and gets the nod over Magee. Agudelo's had much the same role as Magee, despite a lower production, but he's got the visibility and hype to convince people that he's earned it. Magee's got the quality but even after showing that it's in him, not just the players he was surrounded by at LA, doesn't have the glitz that people gravitate towards. Personally, I think you could argue that the big names in LA actually stifled Magee (well, not to mention that he played more of a wing role than up top).

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Keane, Camilo, and Di Vaio are the top contenders other than Magee. Some have suggested Morales, Alonso, Cahill, and Valeri as well.

    Keane has some big numbers (15g 11a in only 20 games) but he's missed a lot of MLS action and the Galaxy quite honestly have underachieved a little bit. Same goes for Landon.

    Camilo has been big for Vancouver in the second half but they may not make the playoffs and he doesn't have the East coast exposure either. Di Vaio is a challenger but the Impact falling apart won't help him.

    I can't see anyone casting a ballot for Agudelo since he's missed a lot of time due to injury and he's only scored 8 goals.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:
  • is Duka out for the rest of the year?

  • In reply to ranchero:

    Duka is back at training already.

  • There is one MLS game tonight that could affect the Fire and the Eastern Conference. Montreal is at Los Angeles.

    Galaxy should win this one even with Keane and Gonzalez questionable.

  • I know its the Sounders but hey seems like they are doing things right.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/sounders-c-suite-with-jeffrey-hayzlett-10-15-QqdMrRnmQDiQvWKhLfBBGA.html

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Listening to your fan base.....what a novel idea.

  • fb_avatar

    Nice comments from everyone here. With two games left (and Montreal now even on pts. & GP with the Fire), I think the MVP race is quite clear. If Montreal makes the playoffs and the Fire doesn't, DiVaio gets it. If the Fire make it (regardless of what Montreal does), Magee gets it. If both the Fire and the Impact fall out and the Galaxy finish 1st or 2nd in the West (which is quite possible after earning 3 pts. on Wednesday night), Keane gets it.

    Cheers,

    Scott

  • Thanks, Guillermo for you view on the other candidates in the race. And nice summary by Scott of where we stand now that all the teams are level.

    The cynic in me still says if Vancouver makes it to the playoffs, Camilo has a very good chance to win because it'll be their first time in the playoffs, he's flashy, and he scores dramatic goals. Magee is a very logical choice if the Fire make it but I'm not sure logic wins out in beauty contests like MVP balloting.

    For the record, I really want the Fire to make the playoffs to give Magee that chance, and I think he totally deserves it. But if I put myself in the shoes of "random person" I'm not sure it happens.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I think Magee's gotten a lot of national media attention as well so he's got a very good shot.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Definitely. His move here for the benefit of his family, in addition to the player he was in LA and the player he became in Chicago, along w/ the whole Rogers thing, really kept him in the forefront of league media attention.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Mea culpa: Vancouver made the playoffs last year, so 2013 would not be a first time for them.

  • Gullermo, your post helped, and so does a little push from the Fire:

    http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2013/10/why-mike-magee-will-be-chicago-fire-mvp-and-why-he-should-be-mls-mvp

    Jeff's great at promoting the team, in my opinion. I mean, when it's warranted - look at the Berry Rookie of the Year campaign. On the other hand, the Baky dustup shows he doesn't offer unstinting praise to the team...

    I especially like the way Jeff's frames this piece as why Magee should be the Fire MVP first, and then why he should be League MVP. Not that there's much discussion among Fire fan's about the team's MVP this year - sure Soumare was added at the same time more or less as Magee but there's no one who would point to him as MVP (sorry Baky, that's in spite of your first and very well-taken goal)!

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Jefe is da man.

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