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.

LINEUPS: Tim Howard starts for USMNT against Costa Rica

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.

[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]

In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins record fourth European Golden Boot

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 13:  Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo poses with his four Golden Boot Awards as maximun goal scorer of European leagues at The Westin Palace Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.

The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS playoff scenarios ]

Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.

Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:

What a special moment in my professional life!

Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.

I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.

Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.

[ EURO 2016: A look at the 20 teams that have qualified for France ]

While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.