CARSON, Calif. – Mike Magee is back to his old tricks again: scoring goals and wowing the StubHub Center faithful.
In a remarkable 45-minute performance, Magee did it all as he scored two goals, notched an assist, and won a penalty as the LA Galaxy came from behind to beat D.C. United 4-1 in their 2016 season opener. Replacing the injured Giovani dos Santos at halftime, Magee’s inclusion ignited a Galaxy attack that had gone without a goal in three matches.
The chants of “Magee is on fire” from an adoring crowd may be nothing new for the 31-year-old forward, but he admitted postgame that he still had to get used to the thrill of scoring again after tallying his first goal since July 2014.
“It feels a little bit surreal. I didn’t know what to do after I scored. Literally, I haven’t scored in years. It felt weird and a little uncomfortable with people jumping at me,” Magee told reporters with a grin. “Once the game ended it felt weird but incredible. I’m still obviously scrambling for words right now so you can imagine what’s going through my mind.”
With the Galaxy trailing in the second half, Magee ignited LA’s comeback in the 54th minute when delivered a pinpoint corner to the head of Daniel Steres for the equalizer. Just 11 minutes later, Magee got on the score sheet himself with a cheeky chip over D.C. United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to give Los Angeles a lead that they never relinquished.
He wasn’t done there; however, as Magee was brought down by Dykstra in the 82nd minute to win a penalty that was put away by Robbie Keane. Magee completed the brace five minutes later with a header off a free kick from Steven Gerrard. The two-goal performance is Magee’s first multi-goal game since May 2014.
“It was a man of the match performance, and he deserved all the applause he gets,” Gerrard said. “He was sensational.”
Added Keane, “We knew what he could do. It was a very calm finish you saw with the first goal, and that’s something he’s going to bring to the squad. First time around when he was here, he was brilliant, and he’s continued on from there.”
It may have all looked easy for Magee in the second half, but the striker claimed it was anything but simple.
“I was the beneficiary of some incredible movement on the first goal and an incredible ball by Sebastian [Lletget]. My touch was just bad enough to bounce up, and the rest was easy,” he said. “The second time I was just trying to get in the box, and it just hit me in the head. Stevie [Gerrard] played a perfect ball. Not easy at all as far as I go, but my teammates made it look easy for me.”
The Galaxy striker’s showing even caused Bruce Arena to crack a joke of his own.
“He didn't do a whole lot we just had to use him because Gio [dos Santos] got hurt so we just had to stick him out there,” Arena joked. “In all seriousness, that is the reason why we wanted to bring Mike back here. We think he is a great player that can score goals and we've been very careful with him in preseason and we will continue to be in the beginning of the season and kind of be smart about his minutes and make sure he is completely healthy, and we have him ready to go a great year but I think he kicked it off well.”
After his brilliant showing against D.C. United, Magee should give Arena plenty to think about when he prepares his starting XI for next week’s match against the Colorado Rapids. Although the former MLS MVP will be gunning for a starting role in training this week, he’s ready to perform any role for the Galaxy boss.
“You know, I just came in here with one thing in mind: to win games. I think I’ll keep pushing him to start me no matter how fit or healthy I am,” Magee said. “That’s my goal, but I think Bruce [Arena] has earned the right to dictate who plays where and when. I might argue with him, but I’ll accept it.”