KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Mike Magee found out about a week ago over a phone call that he was the 2013 MLS MVP.
He still found it surreal on Thursday.
Standing in front of family and media members on Thursday evening ahead of Saturday’s MLS Cup Final between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, Magee joined a distinguished group of players by being named the league’s best player for the 2013 campaign. Magee gave a speech in which he credited his move from the LA Galaxy to the Chicago Fire, his teammates, and Windy City-based family for putting together a dream season that saw him score a combined 21 goals.
Afterwards, Magee went to a backroom and fielded questions from reporters. He reiterated what he said during his speech, only in a little more detail.
“I was going home, which is so easy,” said the 29-year-old Magee when asked about his successful transition to the Fire. “I’ve made so many different moves and there’s a lot of different transitions that have been so difficult and going home is as easy as can be.”
It sure seemed that way judging by the frequency in which Magee scored goals this season. Not only did Magee light up scoreboards, but he also made his teammates better and that had a Fire team that began the year very poorly on the brink of reaching the postseason up until the final day of the regular season.
Magee and Chicago may have ultimately fallen short of their goal of reaching the playoffs, but the turnaround the club enjoyed after he arrived from the two-time defending champion Galaxy via a trade for Robbie Rogers was nothing short of spectacular.
Magee refrained from touching on that highly-discussed deal on Thursday, but said that leaving the Galaxy, where he won two MLS Cups, was not that difficult, all things considered.
“Once I knew it was time to get my daughter home and obviously being from Chicago and knowing how amazing that organization is and wanting to get there and win a trophy for the city that I love and the team that I love, it was easy,” said Magee, who added that he enjoyed his time in Los Angeles.
Along with thanking his family for supporting him, Magee also credited his Fire teammates. Players like Dilly Duke and Patrick Nyarko took some of the offensive load Magee’s shoulders and allowed him to serve as a pure striker capable of scoring the difficult goals as well as the simple ones.
“It was easy,” said Magee on settling to his new surroundings on the field. “To be honest, I was struggling at the podium to find words, but between Dilly and Patrick and Joel (Lindpere), we scored some goals. The amount of tap-ins I had and literally a guy banked one off me. The transition was amazing.”
While Magee is cherishing the individual accolade that is the MLS MVP trophy, he is also looking ahead. He wants to earn a call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team – so much so that he will not pay much mind to interest from the Republic of Ireland (if it comes) unless U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann tells him he has no chance of representing his country. He’s also eager to get playing under new Fire head coach Frank Yallop.
“I’m excited as anyone,” said Magee. “I got to play against him many times and I always hated playing his teams and I think that’s a good sign. What I’ve heard from everyone is that he’s an amazing guy, an amazing coach and his resume kind of speaks for itself.”
Magee is set to make more media rounds during the week to talk about his achievement before heading into the offseason and preparing for 2014 with the Chicago Fire. The page on his remarkable year will soon be turned, but not soon forgotten.
Not by MLS fans and not by Magee himself.
“I did not think I would score 21 goals in a season,” said Magee. “Obviously as a young kid I had high hopes and didn’t realize that being 5-foot-9, 150 pounds and MLS would be so difficult. It was worth the wait.”