Mike Magee is the hero in LA Galaxy return, scores first goal in nearly 18 months

CARSON, Calif. -- Mike Magee hadn't scored a goal since August 2014, thanks to injuries that turned most of his two full seasons in Chicago into something of a nightmare, so when he finally hit the net again, twice, in the LA Galaxy's MLS season-opening victory Sunday night over visiting D.C. United, he was, well, confused.

“It feels a little bit surreal,” Magee said after coming off the bench at halftime to spark the Galaxy to a 4-1 come-from-behind romp at StubHub Center. “I didn't know what to do when I scored. I literally haven't scored in years.

“I felt weird, a little uncomfortable, people kind of jumping at me [in celebration], and once the game ended, it felt weird and incredible. I'm still, obviously, scrambling for words right now, so you can imagine what's going through my mind.”

Magee, playing his first league game for LA since departing in May 2013 for his hometown Chicago Fire after playing a pivotal role in the Galaxy's back-to-back MLS Cup title runs in 2011 and 2012, was sensational, playing a role in all four goals as they overcame a tepid first half with a superb second-half showing to claim their first competitive win since last September.

“That's the reason why we wanted to bring Mike back here,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “We think he's a great player, can score goals.”

Said captain Robbie Keane: “We know what he could do. He's a very calm finisher, as we saw with the first goal. He's going to be a huge addition to the squad, obviously. First time around he was here, he was brilliant, and he's continuing on from there.”

Magee, whose time in preseason was limited as he seeks full fitness following lengthy injury troubles, came on at halftime when Giovani Dos Santos was forced to depart with a left-leg injury, and he made his presence felt immediately.

The Galaxy had far more energy than they did before the break, and Magee served up the equalizer in the 54th minute with a corner kick that defender Daniel Steres, making his MLS debut, powerfully nodded home. Magee scored the winning goal 10 minutes later, taking a chip from Sebastian Lletget and arcing it over D.C. goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra and inside the far-post netting.

He created a Robbie Keane penalty kick with about 10 minutes to go, running onto a long ball from Ashley Cole, then going down when Dykstra tripped him after he'd fired wide, and scored the finale in the 87th minute, a glancing header from a Steven Gerrard free kick.

The Galaxy faithful serenaded Magee, long a fan favorite, with chants of “Magee, Magee, Magee's on fire!”

“He changed the game for us,” Gerrard said. “Man of the Match performance tonight. He deserves all the plaudits he gets. He was sensational.”

It was a fine finish to an often frustrating match for LA. They were without Belgian defender Jelle Van Damme, nursing an ailing ankle, lost goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to a leg injury in the 20th minute, then saw Dos Santos go down. Gerrard was feeling ill and had wanted to come off at halftime but couldn't because of the other departures.

“I think it's a good kind of win for us,” Arena said. “That we had to come from behind and dig a little bit, work real hard, got a nice blend of experience. We had enough guys who could settle everyone down, keep their composure. ... We dealt with some issues and overcame them. I think, overall, it's a real good win for our team.”