Reigning MLS MVP Mike Magee finally made his 2014 debut for the Chicago Fire, going the full 90 in Sunday's 1-1 home draw against the New York Red Bulls.
But his first goal of the new campaign is going to have to wait after Magee was kept off the scoreboard against RBNY.
Nonetheless, Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop was upbeat about the performance of his star player in the club's home opener.
Yallop deployed Magee in a deeper, withdrawn role behind main striker Quincy Amarikwa, and despite his best efforts, Magee struggled to make an impact on the game. His best look came when he was put through on goal in the 73rd minute only to see his left-footed shot blocked.
“He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do, and a big part of the club," Yallop said. "He soldiered on, he looked tired obviously in the end, but he soldiered on. And on the break maybe we could’ve used him to get that winning goal, but it wasn’t to be today. But I was pleased with Mike’s performance.
“Once he gets into his rhythm, he’ll be fine," continued Yallop. "But, again, he had that good look, I think he had another chance, I think it was on a cross. I wouldn’t say he would usually score those, but pretty close to it. But it’s good [for him] to get 90 minutes."
Magee, who virtually missed the club's entire preseason between US national team camp and a hamstring injury, was disappointed that he couldn’t help deliver a victory for his hometown crowd which braved chilly conditions at Toyota Park.
“It’s great to be back,” Magee said. “But having said that, tonight’s a game we should have won and personally I should have had a better game. But it didn’t happen and we just move on.”
Last year's second-leading league scorer -- Magee netted 21 goals in his MVP campaign -- did admit there will be some adjusting to do under his new coach before he can think about replicating last year's lofty numbers.
“I’m playing a little deeper and maybe it’s going to take a couple of games to get used to it and get my legs used to it," Magee said. "He’s demanding a bit more defensive work of me, which is fine.”
As far as the Fire are concerned, the club is still seeking out its first win (0-1-2, 2pts) for its new head coach, who still feels the squad is on the right path.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed to not come away with a win, but for the efforts I thought both teams played pretty well on a difficult surface today," Yallop said. "What I did like about our guys [was that] we were probably closer to winning the match than to losing it, so that’s always good.
“We had a couple of good chances to get that second, but having said all that, we didn’t lose the match. I thought we did some bright stuff, we tried to play the way we want to play, but I guess in the end, a draw is a fair result.”