Mike Magee joined his new teammates at the Toyota Park practice field this morning and participated in his first training session as a member of the Chicago Fire. As a Chicago native, Magee is looking forward to playing in front of friends and family and noted that he helped move the trade with Los Angeles along. “I tried to get back [here] a couple times in the past and then I think throughout the process with Robbie Rogers, that whole saga with him trying to get to LA, it crept in my mind that somebody had to go to Chicago and I raised my hand,” said Magee.
Bruce Arena was reluctant to send Magee to Chicago as part of the trade but once it became apparent that the 28 year old veteran was more than receptive to a move the deal was finalized and he found his way back to Chicago. “I didn’t [think it would be me]. I have to thank the Galaxy. I had a good talk with Bruce, mentioned I’m from here and that it was long past due that I get home. The Galaxy were great in facilitating that,” he said. If not for Magee agreeing to and encouraging the move, Los Angeles and Chicago may still be haggling over fair compensation for Robbie Rogers’ rights. Rogers signed with the Galaxy this weekend and made his debut in a 4-0 win over Seattle last night.
Magee hasn’t yet spoken to Frank Klopas about where he’ll play but did point out that he can help in several ways. “We had a general conversation,” said Magee. “We were more talking about Chicago things but he knows I like to play forward and midfield. I’m the kind of guy that just wants to be on the field.”
After joking about playing him at goalkeeper, Frank Klopas cited his ability to finish while dropping a strong hint as to where he sees Magee fitting in. “I think you get him around the goal, that’s where he’s played. Depending on the need, you can move him around but I think around the goal, with his ability to combine and finish plays is quality. I think it’s important to get him closer to the goal but obviously things can change depending on what happens or the circumstances with injuries because he can play out wide also or in the midfield,” said Klopas.
Magee has a history with a few of his new teammates and the coaching staff so the transition should be relatively easy. “I’ve known Rolfie and Logan [Pause] for a while. [Mike] Matkovich – I’ve known him since I was young. I played for the Sockers and he was a Magic guy so I hated him then. Not so much now. I’ve known Frank as well since I was a Fire fan. As cliché as that is, Frank’s a guy I’ve always loved as a player and we’ve kept in touch. Maicon [Santos] from his Chivas days, Wells [Thompson] from us being in the league forever. There’s just a bunch of good guys to be honest.”
Magee is hoping to play against the Charlotte Eagles in the Fire’s USOC opener on Wednesday night and Klopas indicated that he would indeed see his first action in that contest.
Fire 1 RSL 1 – recap and ratings
The Fire earned a hard fought point on the road this past Saturday night with a 1-1 draw away to Real Salt Lake. The home team maintained the bulk of the possession and the chances after the first 25 minutes of the match but Chicago did well to stay close and pick up the tie courtesy of a fantastic finish from Quincy Amarikwa late in the game. The Fire are hoping that new faces, a positive result, and an end to the three game goal scoring drought can turn things in the right direction.
GK Sean Johnson (7) – A no-brainer as man of the match in this one with numerous acrobatic saves that denied RSL and kept the Fire in position to earn a draw. The best of the lot was probably the 31st minute diving stop of Findley’s attempt that appeared headed to the inside of his right post. Another finger-tip save of Javier Morales’ free kick in the 76th was just enough to deflect the ball toward the crossbar and temporarily kept RSL off the scoreboard. Johnson will miss the USOC match after a deserved call-up into USMNT camp.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) – A very good night for Anibaba in his return to the right back spot. Did well to contain RSL’s diminutive striker Joao Plata on several 1v1 chances. His thrown in led to the equalizer and he also served an excellent cross into Amarikwa in the 77th which led to an opportunity. Also found MacDonald for the Fire’s only other shot on target in the 90th minute.
D Austin Berry (6 ) – Steady all game while RSL controlled the ball for most of the match. His flick-on header led directly to the game tying goal and he also managed to get a head on several other long throws from Anibaba before that.
D Bakary Soumare (5) – Played well in spots but there were some telling communication gaps that can be attributed to only participating in one training session before being paired up with his new backline partners. RSL enjoyed way too many free headers in the area by finding holes in the middle of the Fire defense. Fortunately most of the them were off the mark or saved by Johnson. Saborio found one of those gaps in the 78th to score for RSL. Soumare should improve with training and game action.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) – Not as involved offensively with RSL pushing and Chicago looking to defend and counter but still a good outing for the veteran left back. Stopped Plata in the 73rd on a ball over the top to the speedy forward.
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) – The midfield pairing wasn’t very effective in keeping the ball and weren’t very involved in taking it away either. Not a terrible day but 87% passing efficiency by the opposition and one solo shot attempt isn’t going to get it done.
M Logan Pause (5) – In the same boat with Larentowicz on this one. RSL exploited gaps in the box and just ahead of the back line for most of the match. Most telling was a long distance attempt by Wingert in the 57th that forced Johnson into another difficult save. The RSL fullback had ample time to find space and time to uncork the blast from the area that should have been occupied by the central defenders.
M Dilly Duka (5) – An active match with two shot attempts and a few good runs but needs to improve on decision making in the offensive third. Still showing some signs but not quite there. Subbed out in the 74th. Corner kicks were ineffective. Took three tries on the left side before being replaced by Lindpere on corner duty.
M Joel Lindpere (5) – Better than the last match but just not showing anywhere near what is expected. Once Magee is in the line-up you have to figure Lindpere is the logical choice to grab a seat as Nyarko is possibly moved back into midfield.
F Chris Rolfe (5) – One early shot attempt in the 7th minute was just wide of the left post from about 19 yards out. With RSL playing keep away Fire forwards weren’t very involved. Subbed out in the 63rd. Also may find his way out of the first eleven in favor of a spot for Magee.
F Patrick Nyarko (5) – Had to come back t0o deep to retrieve the ball in most instances and it’s impossible to dribble though an entire back line with no help in the form of trailing runs or another creative source. Did very well to get back and defend when he had too though. A foul from behind on Morales just outside the area led to the free kick off the cross bar however. Moved to right mid when Amarikwa entered the match.
F Alex (5) – The first sub off the bench for Rolfe in the 63rd but wasn’t very involved going forward.
F Quincy Amarikwa (7) – If not for Johnson’s heroics throughout, Amarikwa would have earned a man of the match honor. Missed with a header just over the crossbar in the 77th minute and served in a nice cross to the far post in the 88th but as seen all too often there was no Fire player making a trailing run toward the post. Of course there was that “goal of the week” worthy athletic finish that saved the point for Chicago. Sixteen excellent minutes.
F Sherjill MacDonald (5) – Came into the match for Pause in the 81st. His header attempt in the 90th minute was the Fire’s only other shot on target. He was falling away from goal and not able to get much on it. Also had another chance when he managed to get a head on a goal kick that was sloppily defended by RSL before it was cleared away.