CARSON, Calif. – Mike Magee can't explain his knack for scoring goals in the most important of games, and he'd rather not think too deeply about it.
“I don't care why,” the LA Galaxy midfielder said following Friday's training session at the Home Depot Center. “I don't care why the ball goes in or why we're winning. I don't care why this team plays the way that we do.”
That it happens is good enough, and the frequency with which the 10-year veteran comes through at the most important times is stirring some Mr. November talk. It's been an important part of why the Galaxy, and not San Jose, are taking on Seattle in the Western Conference Championship, which opens Sunday at Home Depot Center (9 pm ET; ESPN, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com) with the second leg a week later up north.
Magee scored the all-important third goal in LA's 3-1 win Wednesday night over the Earthquakes, delivering the margin of victory in the 3-2 aggregate triumph. He scored a brilliant first goal in the 2-1 comeback victory over Vancouver in the wild-card game, too, and that's after scoring three times in last year's MLS Cup playoff run and twice in the 2009 postseason, including the goal that gave the Galaxy a short-lived lead over Real Salt Lake in the title game.
“It's a good question. I don't know,” Magee said when asked about his propensity for big goals. “As a team, we tend to get up for these games and create more chances and score goals when we need to. Teams try to buckle down on Robbie [Keane], Landon [Donovan], Edson [Buddle] and David [Beckham], and they tend to forget about me, which has been working out pretty well for me the last couple of years.”
Teammates sure notice. Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, in his first season with LA, said that “my opinion, he's one of the best players with quality in front of the box. If he has a good spot, we know what he can do.”
Juninho goes further.
“Magee, it's magic,” said the midfielder. “When we want, he's always in there and good position and always he scores a goal. It's magical. Amazing.”
The goal, and victory, against San Jose were particularly satisfying, especially after LA had gone 0-3-1 in the previous meetings.
“You have no idea,” Magee said. “As much as I wanted to win, [I] wanted them to lose. They’ve been a team that has come back on us three times this year, and their fans have had a lot to say about our team. It would have been such a bad feeling watching them celebrate.”
Now he looks to help boost the Galaxy past Seattle, which they beat in a home-and-home Western semifinal two years ago. It won't be easy.
“This team can beat you in a number of different ways,” Magee said. “They’re one of those teams where they tend to find your weaknesses, and they expose it quickly so we can’t have any weak links.”