LA Galaxy full of respect for Mike Magee after departure to Chicago Fire for family reasons

CARSON, Calif. – Sure, the LA Galaxy wanted Robbie Rogers, but they weren't willing to give up Mike Magee to get him. That, they say, was Magee's idea.

LA announced Saturday they had traded Magee, a force for the club since arriving before the 2009 season, to his hometown Chicago Fire for the MLS rights to Rogers, who then signed a multiyear deal and could make his Galaxy debut Sunday night against Seattle (11 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).

Magee, who led the Galaxy with six goals this season after pivotal performances in the team's MLS Cup title runs the past two years, was ready to return home for what LA coach Bruce Arena called “personal reasons.”

“I had spoken to Mike, and this was something he wanted to do ...,” Arena said at a Home Depot Center news conference introducing Rogers, who is returning to the game after retiring in February when he revealed he is gay. “If Mike didn't want to do this, I would not have done it. I have a long history with Mike. I have the greatest respect for him, his family and his personal concerns, and for me that's what slants the deal.”

READ: Armchair Analyst: Magee for Rogers? Everybody wins in this one

Magee scored 19 goals in 105 MLS regular-season appearances in four-plus seasons for the Galaxy – and another eight in 17 playoff games – and was a huge contributor on the left side of midfield, a big presence in LA's possession game and a dangerous attacker going forward.

“We're all sad to lose Mike,” Landon Donovan said following Saturday's training session. “Obviously, professionally, it's a loss for our team, but personally we've all grown to love Mike. There's not many opportunities in sports where something like this happens and it's great for both parties.

“For Mike, it was a personal decision that I think he's been hoping for for a little while at least, and it's nice for him to be able to do that. And for Robbie to have the chance to play at home, doing something that none of us can fully understand or comprehend. It's nice that he can do it in front of his family, where he has the opportunity to be relatively comfortable in something that is probably a little uncomfortable for him.”

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Said captain Robbie Keane: “I think that everybody is sad to see Mikey go, because he's a top player and a great person to have around. He's good for the locker room, so he's certainly going to be missed by everybody, but you have to respect somebody's decision that, for family reasons, he wants to go back home. We wish him well and hope that he can have as much success there as he had with the Galaxy.”

Arena brought Magee to the Galaxy after coaching him with the New York Red Bulls in 2006-07.

“Mike Magee is a great player,” Arena said. “In Mike's four years with the Galaxy, those years are unprecedented. Championships, Supporters' Shields. So he's been part of the legacy with the Galaxy, and he'll be missed. No question, he was a great player [for us].

“To acquire a very good player, sometimes you have to give up a very good player, and I'm hopeful in the end that this trade works out for both teams, but more specifically for the Galaxy. We're in this business to win games, to  build a successful team, to compete for championships. If I thought this would not enable us to continue on this path, we would not have made this trade.”