CARSON, Calif. — A hamstring injury thus far has been about the only thing that has slowed Mike Magee this season. The Galaxy striker continued his stellar play on Sunday with a wonderful long-distance goal in the LA’s World Football Challenge match against Manchester City.
Although the strike is not eligible for consideration for MLS Goal of the Week, Magee already has an individual honor to his name, having won MLS Player of the Week following an appearance in goal against San Jose on June 25.
Add to that a US Open Cup game-winning match and Sunday’s strike, and Magee can do no wrong. He may have an explanation to his sudden superhero efforts.
“Something’s funny,” Magee said. “Something’s fishy in my water out in Manhattan Beach.”
The goal, though, was splendid. Dan Keat sent a ball out wide to Chris Birchall who headed the ball down towards Magee, who stood some 25 yards out.
“Right as it was bouncing to my chest, I already knew," Magee said. "He literally headed it perfectly, bounced up to my chest and I knew I was going to smash it. I was just happy it stayed in the stadium, let alone went in the goal.”
The goal leveled terms and helped the Galaxy continue to mount pressure on Man. City, although the club was unable to score the go-ahead goal and eventually lost in a penalty-kick shootout by 7-6.
But it was a strike that kept teammates in awe.
“He was one of the guys, too, that said it,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “We said in the huddle before we came out, ‘Let’s go for it, take chances, take risks.’ That’s exactly what he did. It paid off for him. He had a great shot, went over the 6-foot-10 ‘keeper or however tall he was and it was a great goal.”
Already trailing by 1-0 in the 30th minute, the Galaxy watched as Manchester City striker and goal-scorer Mario Balotelli broke in alone on Josh Saunders. The play seemed as if it was destined to end up with City doubling their lead, Balotelli celebrating and LA players scratching their heads.
The only thing that happened, though, was the last part as Balotelli inexplicably stopped, turned around and tried a backheel that went well wide of the goal.
“I’m not sure if he thought he was offside,” Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter said. “I’m not sure what was going on.”
The backheel went horribly wrong for Balotelli, who was pulled minutes later by Man. City boss Roberto Mancini. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena refused to comment on the situation while LA players were perplexed to what had happened.
“It’s not something I would do,” Magee said.
Neither, apparently, would any of Magee’s teammates.
“We want guys giving 100 percent effort, working hard and being professionals,” Berhalter said. “That’s what we ask of the guys.”
But was it disrespectful towards the Galaxy?
“If that was a 6-0 game and he does that, probably someone would have had a whack on him, but we were competing with them well,” Magee said.
Up close and personal
It’s not often that players can compete against the likes of FA Cup winners Manchester City or Copa del Rey champions Real Madrid, two sides who will compete in Champions League play next season.
While the results will fade in time, the chance to have stepped onto the field against the high-priced and world-class talent each side boasts is not something that will soon be forgotten.
“It’s just an amazing memory,” Magee said. “Not too many people can say they’ve played against half these guys or any of these guys for that matter. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
For Jack McBean, players he watches typically on weekends were suddenly in front of him, trying to muscle him off of or beat him to passes from teammates.
“I watch the EPL a lot and seeing those guys in person, they’re a lot bigger than you think,” McBean said. “I was really excited. To get on a stage like this is just awesome, the stadium was packed and it was pretty sweet.”
Playing against such players as Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil, Karim Benzema, Kaká, David Silva, Nigel de Jong and Edin Dzeko is great for most MLS players, but in particular, for the inexperienced players.
“For our younger guys to be in this position and play against players that they see in TV and they’ve seen when they were in college, it kind of gets rid of that awe factor,” Dunivant said. “We realize we can hang — but not only hang — but win these games.”