Ever since last week's trade between the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire that saw Robbie Rogers join the Galaxy in exchange for Mike Magee, observers have wondered why exactly the Galaxy would give up their then-leading scorer and one of the most clutch playoff goalscorers in MLS history.
A letter to the fans from Magee, a Chicago native, didn't even fully convince some who felt that the Galaxy gave up too much and might have been forced into the deal by the league and the unique circumstances surrounding Robbie Rogers.
On Monday, after training for the first time with the Fire, Magee set the record as straight as possible as to why he has returned home.
“It’s been on my mind pretty much since I left," he said. "I tried to get back [here] a couple times in the past and then I think throughout the process with Robbie Rogers, that whole saga with him trying to get to LA, it crept in my mind that somebody had to go to Chicago. And I raised my hand."
The Fire, who drew 1-1 with Real Salt Lake over the weekend, are in 8th place in the Eastern Conference and remain well out of the playoff picture -- 10 points behind the Philadelphia Union, who current hold the 5th and final playoff spot in the East.
But Magee is confident there is enough time for the club to turn it around, despite admitting that he hasn't really watched the Fire very often this season.
“Of course," he responded when asked if the club can get into the postseason. "We’re trying to catch Philly. We have two games in hand. We have to start getting some points. It’s still a very young season."
The Fire's biggest issue so far has been the lack of goals. Their season total of 7 goals is second fewest in all of MLS. Magee, who can play either midfielder or forward, notched six goals for the Galaxy before the trade, and he is now expected to take on the scoring burden for the Fire.
With his two MLS Cups, his 10+ seasons in the league, and his knack for scoring big goals, could the pressure to perform be too much?
“I put enough pressure on myself just to perform anyways," he said. "It’s obviously added pressure when you’re on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Instantly when the trade became official I felt that pressure but there’s no added pressure to score goals and do anything different than what I’ve done. The main focus is to starting getting points, start catching Philly.”
The Fire play a US Open Cup match against the Charlotte Eagles on Wednesday, and Magee hopes to get some time on the field. “I haven’t spoken to them about what the plans are, but they brought me here to play,” he said.
Finally, as if trying to put to bed any discussion about the trade and any nostalgia about his time in Southern California, Magee sent a strong message about where he is now.
"I have to cut the cord with LA and try not to mention anything about that," he said. "Nobody wants to hear me talk about any of that stuff. Obviously there are certain things that we had there and I’ll try to implement some of those things. I played with some pretty cool players in LA so, hopefully, I’ll try to take some of the things I learned from them and teach some of the young guys here."