Midwestern mighty-mites Chris Rolfe, Mike Magee kindred spirits for Chicago Fire
Each of the Chicago Fire forwards is shifty and quick on the ball, though neither is a swift runner. Both stand less than 6 feet tall, and each weighs around 160 pounds. They each had similar upbringings in the Midwest, Rolfe in Ohio and Magee in Chicago, although Magee had much more notoriety as a teenager.
“I think we've both kind of had to fight that battle of smaller Midwestern kids, and we've needed to develop our skills and anticipation that the bigger kids didn't,” Rolfe told MLSsoccer.com. “I think we had the same kind of upbringing, obviously until he went off to [US national team] residency and I stayed with my parents in Ohio.”
Rolfe has started alongside four forwards this season, but the Fire may have found his perfect match in Magee.
Although they didn't link up as much as they would have liked in a 2-0 win over D.C. United on Sunday, Rolfe thinks he and Magee will do just fine together, even though neither is a traditional forward.
“For me, it's been a great acquisition, because he's a smart player, he works hard, he's vocal,” Rolfe said. “We have kind of the same personality and the same style. Hopefully I get some more chances to play with him because he's doing a great job.”
Magee's arrival may help Rolfe rectify a season that's included just one goal through 12 games for the 2012 Fire MVP.
While he hasn't achieved much success in league play this season, Rolfe scored in last week's US Open Cup win over Charlotte on a looping shot from outside the penalty area after receiving a pass from Magee. Rolfe was out of the game when Magee scored his second goal in two games with the Fire on Sunday (video above), but their ability to make runs and be unpredictable with the ball at their feet should be able to open up space.
“They're very similar in what they can do,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. “I know they talk a lot about how they should move up there, and stuff like that. First hand, I saw when we played the Galaxy, what [Magee] and [Robbie] Keane did was exceptional, and that's what he's trying to bring to him and Chris and whoever plays up top. That kind of movement just destroys defenders, and he's been more or less coaching us through it and helping us in our overall movement to not be static.”
Magee will undergo his first full week of practice with the club this week, and both he and Rolfe acknowledged that the partnership has plenty of room for growth.
But based on what he's seen thus far, Magee thinks he'll enjoy playing next to the Fire veteran.
“Obviously in LA, I played with Robbie Keane and he's a guy who likes the ball at his feet and moves well. He's got great feet,” Magee told MLSsoccer.com last week. “Obviously Rolfe and Robbie are different in their own rights, but I love playing with guys like that, because they see little things that sometimes bigger forwards don't see.”