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!
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.