6713_mageemike_isi_mlsdb11072012146 David Bernal/isiphotos.com

Straight Into the Fire: Mike Magee Moves to Chicago

The attacker put two past the goalie in his first two games with his new team and is fitting in just fine. Chris Gigley talks to Magee about returning home, his stellar form, and a potential U.S. callup.
BY Chris Gigley Posted
June 07, 2013
3:30 PM
Finding a trade that has worked out better than Mike Magee joining the Chicago Fire on May 25 is pretty difficult. As winger Robbie Rogers plays his way back into shape with Magee’s old team in L.A., Magee has scored in each of his first two games for the Fire, both wins, giving the offensively challenged squad the scoring threat it so badly needs.

Add to that the fact that Magee is moving back home to a city he has pined for ever since he left at age 15 for U.S. Soccer's Bradenton Academy, and this is truly a match made in heaven for both parties. ASN caught up with the midfielder to talk about his long overdue return, his quick departure from L.A., and what the Fire must do to play at the Galaxy’s level.

ASN: Has this move to Chicago been as easy as you’ve made it look?
Mike Magee: It’s been easy in all aspects. Obviously, having family here makes it easy for me off the field. Being away since I was 14 and finally getting to come back has been a dream come true. On the field, the guys and the coaches have made it a lot easier than I thought it’d be. Usually when you come to a new team, there are some guys who won’t welcome you right away. Things are kind of set in stone. These guys have been fantastic and have made me feel welcome right from the start.

ASN: And you’ve certainly responded. What was it like to score that first goal for your new team, on June 2 against DC United?
MM: It was really big. I didn’t really have my best game, so to get that off my back was huge. The most important thing was that the goal closed out the game. DC was pushing guys forward, and I just missed a chance two minutes before that. Right after the miss, I was thinking the soccer gods would make me pay for it. The other team usually comes back and scores. So for me to be the one to come back and score like that was a huge weight off my shoulders, knowing I put the game out of reach and wouldn’t be the goat.

ASN: You already seem to have a good connection with veteran forward Chris Rolfe on the field. Was that an instant thing?
MM: It’s a good start, but there is still a lot of room to grow and things we can improve on. When games are tight, we’re going to have to know where we are on the field without looking, and that just comes with more playing time together. We’ll be exposed and make mistakes, but the good news is there are a lot of good, hard-working guys here. Chris is a guy who will be patient with me, and I’ll be patient with him. We know eventually everything is going to click. We need to make mistakes and miss each other at times just to get a better understanding of where we’ll be.

ASN: You volunteered to come home just like Rogers said he wanted to go home to L.A. to play. Still, you were the Galaxy’s leading goal scorer. Were you at least a little surprised to be moved?
MM: It was so quick that I didn’t really have a chance to think about it. As soon as Robbie Rogers was quoted saying he didn’t want to play in Chicago, it clicked right then that I did. From there on out, the more it was talked about that someone had to go to Chicago, the more it felt right to me. I had a two-minute conversation with [Galaxy president] Chris Klein and [head coach] Bruce Arena. Basically, I told them I’d love to go to Chicago. It was time. I’d been gone for so long. For personal reasons, it was time for me. Luckily, we had such a good relationship that it worked out very quickly.

ASN: So you’ve moved back in with your parents for now. Is it like you’re 14 all over again?
MM: I’ve been on my own for so long, I have some time to make up for. It’s not like I’m some 28-year-old who’s never left. It’s good. My parents aren’t pressuring me to move out or anything like that. They’re thrilled to have me around.

ASN: Now that you’re back, what do you realize you missed most about Chicago when you were gone?
MM: Mostly family. I have a ton of cousins and a very close-knit family. I have friends here I’ve kept in touch with. I’ve actually gotten closer with them since I’ve been gone, so it’s so nice to be back. The people in Chicago are so different from people anywhere else. People in New Jersey are grumpy. In L.A., everyone is an actor, model or producer. In Chicago, it’s all just good, down-to-earth, hard-working people. I hope that I’ve kept that character through the years.

ASN: Still, you played with some great teams in L.A. What’s your biggest takeaway from that experience?
MM: I think I gained back my love for the game there. New York was kind of a roller coaster for the six years I was there. The experience in L.A. was more than I could’ve ever imagined. The guys I got to play with, the coaches and the daily atmosphere there were all world class.

ASN: What does Chicago need to do to play at L.A.’s level?
MM: It’s hard to say. The one thing that stands out about L.A. is that when Bruce came in and was a new coach just like Frank Klopas was here recently, the team was at the bottom. They were the worst team in the league, but we had a good core group of guys who stuck together and created an amazing atmosphere where everyone wanted to win. You can see that happening here. It’s a process. In this league, you notice the teams that go out and get the big name players and make splashes every year aren’t necessarily the ones that are successful. Look at Houston. There is a core group of guys there who have played a lot together, and that’s why they win year in and year out. When you have that, it’s big. We just have to go through the growing pains and stick together, and it’ll all work out.

ASN: This has been a great year for you so far. Do you ever think about deserving a shot at getting a cap with the U.S. mens national team?
MM: Honestly, not unless someone brings it up. I’m not losing sleep over it. Obviously, it would be amazing and I’d certainly welcome the opportunity. But we need to get things rolling in Chicago, and then all the rest of that stuff will take care of itself.

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