Mike Magee hardly needed extra motivation, not after returning from a shin injury that numbed his leg whenever he ran. But he found some Saturday evening on the opposing bench.
Magee is among the many top players FC Dallas assistant coach John Ellinger produced when he was US Under-17 national team coach. So the LA Galaxy attacker was pleased as could be to show off for his onetime mentor.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
And show off he did, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 triumph that gave LA seven wins in the past month and a half and raised their record to .500, at 10-10-3, for the first time since April.
“Sometimes when I play here, I get up for the game a little bit more than I'm used to, being that he kind of kickstarted my career,” said Magee, who missed four games after a Fourth of July collision with Philadelphia's Sheanon Williams before playing the second half of Tuesday's friendly against Tottenham. “Yeah, but I like scoring big goals, always.”
This was certainly a big one. The matchwinning goal was a product of a successful partnership up front with Robbie Keane as the Galaxy absorbed the losses of Landon Donovan, serving a suspension for yellow-card accumulation, and David Beckham, off on ambassadorial duty at the London Olympics. Magee and Keane hooked up a few times in the first half, most often with Magee feeding the Irishman.
But Keane repaid the service in the 62nd minute. He took a feed from Marcelo Sarvas, split two defenders with a square ball into the arc, and Magee, given time by the FCD backline to pick out an angle, curled the ball inside the left post.
“Mikey is a clever player,” said Keane, who has a goal and/or an assist in six of eight games since returning from Euro 2012. “He picks up good positions, and he's easy to play with because he's got good feet. It was a great finish on his goal.”
But maybe Magee wasn’t supposed to shoot at all.
“Robbie and I were looking to do a one-two — or he was looking to do a one-two with me,” Magee said. “And the defender kind of backed off of me, and I took my look.”
Magee was part of Ellinger's side at the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup, along with Eddie Johnson, Santino Quaranta, Justin Mapp and Chad Marshall — the group that followed by two years the Ellinger-coached semifinalists featuring Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Oguchi Onyewu and Bobby Convey.
He was tickled just to be back on the field after suffering a hematoma — “some blood clots in my leg that pinched some nerves,” he described it —against the Union.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking for a little bit, knowing that every time I ran my leg was going a little bit numb,” he said before the game in Dallas.
He needed to complete a full training session before the Galaxy staff would let him back onto the field, and did so Monday — with help from a white lie.
“I was begging [to play],” he said. “I think I felt a little tingle in the leg, but I didn't say anything just because I wanted to make sure I got out there.”