Chicago Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko knew he could count on Mike Magee to make the right run when he stole the ball from Philadelphia Union midfielder Leo Fernandes and dribbled toward the penalty area in the 75th minute of Saturday's 2-1 win over Philadelphia at PPL Park, so he held the ball for a few seconds and waited.
When Quincy Amarikwa made a run to pull the nearest defender away from Magee, Nyarko found the league's leading goalscorer, and he knew the rest of the play was a formality.
“I was 99 percent sure he was going to bury that. That's the quality that he has,” Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “Mike is unbelievable with the runs he makes. I saw him initially but then I knew he was going to make the right run and actually Quincy made the play there with his run. I stayed patient and picked out the pass. It was an unbelievable finish too because he still had a lot to do.”
For the second time in two weeks, Nyarko pick-pocketed an opposing player in the offensive third and found Magee to secure a result.
Had they lost, Chicago would have fallen dangerously far out of the fifth and final playoff spot, but Nyarko's goal and assist ensured that they stayed within five points of the Houston Dynamo.
“I've been saying, we're more desperate than [Philadelphia],” Nyarko said. “This team is confident because they grind out results here and there, so especially at home, they were going to be confident. So we needed to have a special performance to get three points today. Before the start of the game, everybody kept saying we need the three points, and we were going to settle for nothing but the three points. When we conceded that goal, we didn't panic, we came straight out and went back on the offensive.”
Once again, Magee was instrumental in a positive result for the Fire, scoring for the 11th time in 13 games across all competitions for the Fire.
The way the Chicagoan has helped turn around the Fire, Nyarko said, should be enough to put him in the conversation for the league's best player.
“Absolutely he has to be in the [MVP conversation],” Nyarko said. “The guy cannot miss, he puts himself in great positions and he's making the plays for us … The funny thing is it's not individual, it's nothing individual, it's all about the team. I think that's what is helping him achieve those individual accomplishments.”