Mike Magee lay on the ground, panting after the Chicago Fire's 1-1 draw in Houston Saturday.
The Fire didn't gain any points on Houston or New England in the race for the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, but Magee didn't seem to care. The Fire took a point in a hostile environment against a team ahead of them in the standings, both of which have been rarities this season.
“I couldn't have played 10 more seconds I don't think,” Magee told MLSsoccer.com. “In 90 degree weather, you've just got to take [the draw] and go back to Chicago.”
Magee scored the equalizer in the 63rd minute of the draw with the Dynamo, but he made sure to give Patrick Nyarko most of the credit.
Nyarko lunged to steal the ball from Houston left back Corey Ashe just outside the box and charged toward the endline as Magee drifted toward the middle of the goal, taking two steps to free himself when defender Bobby Boswell looked away. After a pinpoint cross, all Magee had to do was tap the ball into the back of the net.
“I'm waiting for Bobby to look over his shoulder to make him think I'm going to come off and kind of get toward the PK spot, and then as soon as he looks back, I'm just pointing that I want it behind,” Magee said. “Then to be honest, Patrick does everything. He wins the ball, beats his guy and then plays a perfect ball. I'm a fool if I miss it. It was all Nyarko.”
The equalizer came just two minutes after the opener, and the goals came amidst a flurry of chances in a game that had become wide open. Chicago relied on a few key saves from Paolo Tornaghi and missed a few chances of their own before the game settled down somewhat.
Fatigue, Magee said, played a role in the openness of play midway through the half.
“I think it was tired legs,” he said. “I thought we did well to keep the game going, obviously tired legs came about, but we still picked and chose our times to get forward and obviously we didn't want to give up anything in the back, so I thought, other than the first 30 minutes, I thought we played well.”
The point on the road was a positive start to a string of six straight games against teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference. While they lost ground on the fifth playoff spot after New England's win, Magee was just fine with escaping Houston with a point.
“We're not going to be greedy,” Magee said. “If you can come to Houston and get a point, you take it. Obviously we needed three points, we have some catching up to do, but we're trying to change our culture and our mentality, and we're trying to get tougher to beat, and if we keep grinding out games like this, the points are going to come.”