Mike Magee-Chicago 3

Has Mike Magee topped the “Higuain Standard” as MLS all-time top summer arrival?


Watching it unfold last year, I thought what Federico Higuain was accomplishing at Columbus would stand for years as the gold standard of how a summer signing could so spectacularly alter a team, turning things skyward in a huge hurry.

I was wrong.

Mike Magee’s arrival at Chicago may well pass the Higuain Standard. It may have already, in fact.

Someone asked via social media this weekend if any one player’s arrival has meant more to an MLS club than Magee’s has in 2013. I immediately thought of Higuain last year – but the more I thought about it, Magee has gone above and beyond.

When Magee showed up last last month, the beleaguered Fire was a meager 2-7-2 and quickly losing touch with the playoff worthy in the East. Frank Klopas could not feel good about his managerial status and the team had zero reason to like their U.S. Open Cup chances.

Well, look at these guys today. A 5-7-3 mark doesn’t quite put the team in playoff position (top 5 in the conference) but it makes Klopas’ team relevant in the post-season chase, at least. It settles things around the club because Klopas looks safe for the time being.

And look who has found it’s way into the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals!

(MORE: Beware the upset possibilities in tonight’s Open Cup schedule)

None of this happens without Magee, who has scored in all six appearances so far with the Fire. All six! That’s four in league play and two in the Open Cup.

(Don’t ask Magee about any of this, by the way. “Don’t jinx me man,” he said after the Fire’s most recent success. “I can’t comment on numbers of goals right now.”)

You don’t have to ask to see that Magee is tied for league scoring leadership with 10 goals, and that’s a little bonus, an intangible that might help draw a few more fans to Bridgeview.

Looking back a season, Higuain had three goals and six assists in his first five appearances for Columbus last August. The team was 4-0-1 in that time. Perhaps it’s not exactly apples to apples, since Higuain was a transfer arrival while Magee was a trade (for Robbie Rogers’ rights). But it’s not a big stretch to lump both in as “summer arrivals.”

Eventually, Higuain’s arrival was not quite enough to get Columbus into the playoffs. (Injuries to the Argentine attacker had something to do with it, as the Crew missed by a mere two points.) Magee’s arrival has the early appearances of a real season saver around Toyota Park. If so, he will surely pass surpass the Higuain gold standard in that regard.

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)

Wenger lauds team spirit following Arsenal’s big win

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Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]

United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.

All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]

Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.

You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.

[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.

[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.

The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.

Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.