CARSON, Calif. – There's something about Mike Magee and playoff games that cannot be ignored. The 28-year-old doesn't quite understand his prowess in front of the net when it matters most, but he's not about to complain.
Magee's stupendous strike in the 69th minute Thursday night was the key first blow in the LA Galaxy's 2-1 comeback victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Western Conference Knockout Round clash, and it offered a reminder of last year's run, when his goals paved a path toward LA's MLS Cup triumph.
“I try to score in the regular season, too ...,” said Magee, who netted five in 29 Major League Soccer games this season. “I was thinking don't do what I did on the [chance] before and put it in the 20th row. My eyed got big, and, man, that felt amazing.”
Magee's strike, a 12-yard side-volley from Juninho's cross following a short corner kick, canceled out Darren Mattocks' early goal, and Landon Donovan converted a penalty kick four minutes later to deliver the victory and send the Galaxy to a Western Conference semifinal matchup with the San Jose Earthquakes.
“That's what Mike does. He gets in positions,” said David Beckham, who set up Magee's goals in both playoff victories last year over New York and in the Western Conference title-game victory over Real Salt Lake. “He's a clever player – he's a real intelligent player.”
Magee seems to be at his best at the most crucial moments.
“He’s a type of player that shines in moments like this,” Donovan said. “There’s something special about players like that. A lot of guys do it when games don’t matter, or they’ll score the third goal in a 3-0 win that doesn’t matter, but Mike scores goals that matter. He’s done it consistently since he’s been here.”
“I don't know,” Magee said. “I have no idea.”
The occasion just brings out the best in him.
“I feel it,” he said. “I'm so much more nervous for these games than I am any other, but just as a team, we battle as a team, and I've kind of been the beneficiary goal-wise the last two years. Being down a goal, we had to push, and tonight was my turn.”