Mike Magee

Mike Magee’s penalty kick gets it done for Chicago Fire

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As Mike Magee stepped up for the 64th minute penalty kick, he was serenated with chants of “MVP! … MVP! …” from the home fans at Toyota Park.

It was closer than it needed to be, as Chicago needed a controversial penalty kick to squeeze past Chicago 1-0. Magee converted for his 20th goal this year, joining Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio at the top of the list once again. (Di Vaio scored No. 20 earlier in the evening.)

And who knows … they may just be right about the MVP thing.

As we keep saying, the Chicago Fire were dead, buried and moving close to being forgotten for the 2013 season when Magee and his reliable goal scoring rode heroically to the rescue. There is absolutely no way Chicago would be in the playoff conversation without Magee’s late-spring arrival.

Heck, they’d probably be down in the “long-since-eliminated” zone along with Toronto FC, the very team they worked so hard to beat.

Chicago doesn’t really look like a playoff team, in all honesty. (That was a very soft penalty kick, called by referee Edvin Jurisevic on TFC’s Jonathan Osorio on a free kick, even though Osorio had his hand tucked into his body and was turning, almost as if he was trying to avoid being hit with the ball in the wall. It will be among our weekly referee talkers, as the MLS men in the middle keep getting too many important decisions wrong.)

The home team needed more good work near the end from goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Plus, a late TFC header flashed just wide — and that might have been enough to crush the chances of playoff soccer around Toyota Park.

There is still work to do; Frank Klopas’ men may have to get a result next week at New York in order to hold off either Houston or New England for the last playoff spot. Houston and New England are also on the road – but they have easier matches, facing teams that have already been eliminated. (In Houston’s case, facing a team that may soon be, statistically speaking, recorded as the worst team every play at MLS season.)

And there’s this: the Fire will be without important midfielder Jeff Larentowicz for this critical match next weekend in New Jersey; a second half yellow card Saturday means the veteran linchpin will be suspended.

Southampton: Van Dijk won’t leave, selling days likely done

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Ralph Krueger the Southampton Chairman looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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Ralph Krueger doesn’t plan on selling any more big Southampton stars, and there’s none brighter than Virgil Van Dijk.

The Dutchman is perhaps the best center back in the Premier League, regularly linked with transfers to anywhere from Manchester City to Liverpool.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

But Krueger says Saints have had enough of selling big assets. Southampton has sold Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, and Nathaniel Clyne in the past three seasons, and those are just the names to go to Liverpool. Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama have also moved on from St. Mary’s.

From Sky Sports:

“We would like to move away from that and we feel confident this summer will be a lot quieter in Southampton and we can keep the core of this team moving forward for a few years.

“That is going to be important when you see how excellent the group is right now and how exciting the football is. The game we are playing is a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to be part of.”

Saints were the more effective side in a 3-2 EFL Cup Final loss to Manchester United this weekend, but are well off the pace in the race to make back-to-back trips into Europe.

It will be hard to hold onto Van Dijk and even new bright light Manolo Gabbiadini without Europe, but Krueger is a strong leader with the ability to convince almost anyone to buy into a plan.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113th minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.