After years of waiting, Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee is closer than ever to donning a US men's national team jersey after being called into Jurgen Klinsmann's January camp on Friday.
But the 2013 MLS MVP made it clear: He views this as a stepping-stone to bigger goals.
“It's something I've worked for really hard this year, and obviously it's kind of a sign of it paying off a little bit,” Magee told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview. “I'm well aware that it's just a gateway. It's not going to satisfy me.”
Nine years after he made an appearance at Bruce Arena's 2005 January camp, a 21-goal season made the 11-year MLS veteran impossible for Klinsmann's staff to ignore.
During those nine years, his expectations for call-ups have run the gamut. Magee made several caps for the US youth national teams from the time he was 15, and he received his first senior team camp invite in 2005, when he was 20, but he didn't see any game action.
A year later, he hurt his knee, and in the ensuing years he lost hope that another senior team call-up would be coming.
- Get more Chicago Fire news at Chicago-Fire.com
“When I was younger, I probably took it for granted a little bit,” Magee said. “Starting with 15, maybe through 21 I was getting called in, and every time I had a break, I was always going to the national team camp.
"In 2006, I hurt my knee and it took me a lot longer to get right than I thought. I definitely lost hope and then gave up on it in 2008. If you would have asked me then, I wouldn't have thought there was any chance of this.”
After a career reboot in LA and a breakout year in 2013, Magee is officially back in the national team picture. But simply being in the picture isn't good enough.
Robbie Findley and Herculez Gomez had similar breakout years before being late selections to the national team before the 2010 World Cup, and Magee hopes to make a similar impression.
“I had it programmed into my head that I would be called in,” Magee said. “There's no handout, but I think since the season ended, I had to convince myself that I would be in the camp so I could get myself in shape properly.
"It's obviously very exciting to me. It's a long time coming, and more than anything it's kind of a relief. But I can't emphasize enough, I'm motivated more than any other feeling to prove myself, not to be content to be called in to a camp.”