CARSON, Calif. – Mike Magee will arrive at StubHub Center on Saturday well in advance of the LA Galaxy’s preseason opener that night against Armenian side FC Shirak. Magee will look into his locker, where he will see his name atop a familiar No. 18 jersey. He’ll likely smile broadly and then head out to the field for warm-ups.
To say he has been eagerly awaiting the day would be putting it mildly.
“Since the second I knew I was signing with the team, I’ve been looking forward to game day and playing in front of our fans,” he said after training on Thursday. “I’ve been missing that feeling for a while.”
The 31-year-old forward returned to the Galaxy two weeks ago as a free agent after three seasons with the Chicago Fire and can’t help but cherish his good fortune.
“As far as my professional career,” he said, “I’ve always felt this jersey’s fit me pretty well.”
Magee returned to his hometown of Chicago in 2013, when the Galaxy traded him to the Fire for the rights to Robbie Rogers. He went on to have a sensational first season in Chicago, one that included a career-high 15 goals and Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player award. But the ensuing years weren’t so kind to him. Magee’s hip injuries, that eventually required microfracture surgery, limited him to just 29 total appearances in 2014 and 2015.
But now, he’s back in Southern California on a team that went into rebuilding mode following its early MLS Cup playoff exit in 2015. Magee, who won two MLS Cup titles during his previous stint with the Galaxy (2009-2013), is confident that he can conjure up some of that old magic to help his old club enjoy more postseason success.
Magee insisted his body is feeling good, despite various contrasting reports.
“My issues are from not playing for a long time,” he said. “There were some complications from rehab that kind of led to a lot of scarring and tightening up.”
“My health is not my worry. My worry is to get my body right to handle a season, which we will and we are. I’m not worried at all where my health will be,” Magee stated. “It’s just matter of how soon I can get it there.”
Magee’s road to recovery makes Saturday’s game a special occasion, although it is only a preseason affair. Magee said he hopes it is the first step to not only a long and successful season, but also a rewarding one.
“This is the first time I wanted to wear No. 18 again. Seeing that on an LA Galaxy jersey … that combination is hard to put into words.”