With just 15 games left before the conclusion of the regular season, Chicago fire desperately need positive results, which is why star striker Mike Magee has to subpoena the form that helped him win the MVP award last year.
Before diving into the topic at hand, it is important to state that Chicago has struggled this season because of their lack of discipline in the back. The center back pairing of Bakary Soumare and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado have been painful to watch. The two powerful center halves lack chemistry and rarely communicate, which in turn leaves a huge gap in between them for oppositions to exploit.
And now back to Magee.
After five successful campaigns with LA Galaxy, the 29-year-old Chicago, IL, native decided to return home and he did so in magnificent fashion. He was breathtaking as he strutted around Toyota Park, scoring goals and setting up teammates like he’s never done before. In just 22 games, the forward – who had never scored more than seven goals in a season – found the back of the net 15 times.
However, his incredible tally was unable to propel the Fire into the playoffs. And the way this season is playing out, it looks like Magee and his teammates won’t make the playoffs.
Despite only winning three of their 19 games in 2014, the Fire still have a great chance of securing one of the five playoff berths in the Eastern Conference. All Frank Yallop’s men need is a series of consecutive victories, and that is Magee’s cue to become the lethal destroyer he was a year ago.
Logically, expectations for Magee are high, but a hamstring injury before the season started forced him to miss the first two games of the season. His inability to compete in the early stages didn’t prove to be detrimental as he came back to score four times in eight appearances.
Just as he was heating up, Magee suffered another setback. He had to sit out four games and has only scored one goal since he returned.
Because of his nagging injury problems, no one can’t fault him for only scoring five goals this season. But now that he is looks healthy and in good shape, Magee has to deliver.
The former US youth international is the linchpin of a team that’s struggling to find its identity. Magee has to lead the way for players like Benji Joya, Harry Shipp and Grant Ward, by showing them what it takes to be successful in MLS. He has to use his passion and competitive edge to motivate those around him.
Technically, Magee has to improve. For someone who loves to receive the ball at his feet, Magee gives the ball away too easily. The 29-year-old’s pass completion percentage has risen to 79.6 percent from last season’s 75.5 percent, via whoscored.com, but that number is still not good enough.
At that mediocre rate, Magee is making an impressive 1.5 key passes – passes that lead to goal scoring chances ‒ per game. If he completes around 85 percent of his passes, his tally of key passes will certainly increase.
For someone who lacks pace and power, Magee is blessed with the perfect partner in the form of Quincy Amarikwa. However, he fails to use Amarikwa’s athleticism to his advantage.
I’ve noticed that the space between the two hit men is ample, and that leaves Amarikwa isolated in the middle. This was evident in the friendly against English Premier League side, Tottenham Hotspur. For 45 minutes, Amarikwa fought and tussled with two centre-backs, and any time he managed to create enough space, Magee was nowhere to be found.
If the American was closer to his strike partner, Chicago would have had one or two decent chances in the first period.
Magee’s 2014 stats are respectable, but if the forward wants to give his team a shot at making the playoffs, he can’t settle for good; he has to be great.
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