By Luis Bueno – CARSON, CA (Mar 9, 2016) US Soccer Players - If you watched the LA Galaxy's MLS season opener against DC United on Sunday, you'll understand why Galaxy fans might think the only reason why Mike Magee can't walk on water is because he hasn't tried. That may not be entirely true, but Galaxy supporters would likely bet on their man to at least take a step or three on the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
Magee returned to the Galaxy this offseason, signing a free-agent contract that league-wide fell between the “Who cares?” and “Oh, that’s nice” categories. After one match, though, it looks like the Galaxy struck gold by bringing back their golden boy.
All Magee did for the Galaxy on Sunday was score two goals, set up another, and draw a penalty that led to yet another. He did all of that in just 45 minutes, subbing on at halftime of what had been a lackluster and listless performance by a Galaxy team that was in the process of wearing the label of underachievers.
While tall tales of his legend had been prevalent after he broke through in the 2011 season, there are reasons why those tales exist. Magee is a good player, after all.
“That is the reason why we wanted to bring Mike back here,” LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after the victory. “He is a great player that can score goals. We’ve been very careful with him in the preseason and we will continue to be… smart about his minutes and make sure he is completely healthy and have him ready to have a great year.”
With a strong and talented roster, Magee’s minutes over the long haul seemed to depend more on others’ potential absences rather than his own play. Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes, and Giovani Dos Santos take up attacking roles while Steven Gerrard, Nigel de Jong, and Sebastian Lletget round out the top six.
International absences will open up space as Zardes and Dos Santos (Copa America 2016) as well as Keane (Euro 2016) are likely to miss time this summer. With everyone healthy and available, it is Magee who was likely pegged as an option off the bench rather than a 90-minute player.
Injury forced Arena’s hand though as Dos Santos left Sunday’s match with a leg injury. Magee stepped in and turned the match around.
No matter his perceived role, Magee wants to be on the field and sees himself as a first-choice player.
“I just came in here with one thing in mind - to win games,” Magee said after the match. “I’ll keep pushing (Arena) to start me no matter how fit or healthy I am. That’s my goal, but I think Bruce has earned the right to dictate who plays where and when. I might argue with him but I’ll accept it.”
After logging the most effective 45-minute shift in the league this weekend, Magee won MLS Player of the Week. Not only will Magee turn out to be the best free agent signing of the off season, but he could be the best Galaxy acquisition of the off season. Sure, it’s one match but Magee has a legendary history with the Galaxy. His turnaround from an average player to one that was a key part of two Galaxy championships was epic and completely unexpected. Magee won the league’s 2013 Most Valuable Player award as well, only adding to his lore.
On a team with players who have played in the European Champions League and multiple World Cups, Magee’s presence could put the Galaxy over the top and help restore the club to its perch atop the league.
Attempting to walk on water isn't necessary to win soccer games. What Magee does time and again isn't about sporting miracles. It's about work rate, dedication, and making the most of his opportunities. He's done that before and he's already doing it all over again with the LA Galaxy.
Luis Bueno is a veteran soccer writer. Follow him on twitter @BuenoSoccer.
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