BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – As Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee approached his 64th-minute penalty kick against Toronto FC on Saturday, taking a few shuffles to the left before taking three quick steps toward the ball, he thought the target looked a little smaller than usual.
The last time he stepped up for a crucial PK, in a 2-2 tie with Montreal three weeks earlier, he sent the ball off the cross bar. So this time, he decided to hit the frame at all costs, and he chipped the ball down the middle as Stefan Frei went diving to his right.
"I tried to take a little glance at the goalie, and the approach is that I had to score,” Magee told reporters of his Panenka. “Normally, I get up there and don't think twice about missing, and this time the last one off the back of the post was on my mind, so I figured I couldn't hit it off the post if I shot it up the middle."
The gutsy goal was Magee's 20th, putting him into a tie with Marco Di Vaio at the top of the Golden Boot race, and the fans behind the goal chanted “MVP, MVP.”
Magee was appreciative of that, but what he was even more fond of was that the Fire went on to win the game 1-0.
"It's awesome,” Magee said of the MVP praise. “I'm in my city, the city that I love and hearing them chant that with my family in the stands is huge. Having said that, I know what's really at stake and it's not an MVP award or a Golden Boot Award, or any other award, it's about getting to the playoffs and knowing anything can happen from there. It feels good, don't get me wrong, but to be honest it's the last thing on my mind."
Magee won't acknowledge that he wants or deserves to be the league's MVP – he shoots down questions about it right and left. But his coach put in a pitch for the forward on Saturday.
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“Obviously his performance on the field and what he’s done to be able to change our team since he’s been here – he definitely has to be considered,” Frank Klopas said. “He’s had a big impact with our team and I think he for sure deserves the award because I’m his coach. I hope he gets it, but he’s definitely been a huge part to get our team to the point where it is right now.”
Magee's penalty kick on Saturday may have said everything's about the forward's confidence in his MVP-caliber season, because even though his previous miss was in the back of his mind, he knew a second straight mistake wasn't possibile. Not for him.
"I got up there with all the confidence in the world,” Magee said. “I was looking at the goal and it looked a little smaller than normal, to be honest [but] I was never going to miss that."