Mike Magee’s chances of a meaningful, late dash at a World Cup roster spot were always found in the “longshot” file.
Getting invited into the January camp is one thing, and Magee, who made such a strong run at last year’s MLS Golden Boot, was most certainly deserving. He had seemed to perform well, too.
But moving up in the overall order of U.S. strikers was always something else entirely. As we’ve talked about over and over, there’s just not much room in the depth chart.
No, Jozy Altidore is not having a good year at the Stadium of Light – but it doesn’t matter in terms of his place in the 23-man roster for Brazil. Barring injury, he’s going, and probably starting, too.
Aron Johannsson and Eddie Johnson have done enough at this point. Herculez Gomez remains in the mix. Even Chris Wondolowski and Terrence Boyd have to be ahead of Magee in the pecking order of U.S. forwards. (And, clearly, Clint Dempsey is going to Brazil, too, although his responsibilities on the field aren’t more “second forward” than “pure striker.”)
Magee could also be considered for a wide spot, although he seemed to excel this year around Toyota Park when stationed closer to goal.
Either way, today’s news is a real bummer for the latecomer U.S. international, who is still looking for his first gap.
U.S. Soccer announced before Saturday’s match that Magee would miss the match due food poisoning.
Harry Kane forced Asmir Begovic into two good saves in the first half and Song Hueng-min should’ve scored in the second half with a header but even after after a grueling 5,000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan on Thursday night for Europa League action which saw them arrive back in England at 6 a.m. local time Friday, manager Mauricio Pochettino wasn’t pleased his team didn’t win to move into the top four.
“No, not really happy. We deserved more than we got, so I was disappointed, but it’s true that I’m proud of the players. For me they’re big heroes,” Pochettino told ProSoccerTalk. “The effort was massive. Chelsea played one of their best games of the season, and when you make the effort we showed and the maturity, you have to be happy with your players but disappointed with one point.”
With Spurs now stretching their unbeaten run to 13 games this season — their one and only defeat in 2015-16 came on the opening day of the season, 1-0 at Manchester United — Pochettino was asked if his side, who sit five points off the top, should be pleased that a draw against Chelsea felt like two points dropped.
The Argentine coach then released his inner Jose Mourinho — the pair have a close relationship and before Poch came to coach in England he spoke at length to Mourinho — dishing out a backhanded compliment to the master of the backhanded compliment.
“This is a good thing. We play the champions. It’s good. You got the feeling that Chelsea were a small team and Tottenham can win every game we play,” Pochettino said. “It’s very difficult, though. Not easy. We’re the youngest team in the PL and the maturity we showed today we have shown in different games. We have to feel happy. It’s a good thing that, maybe, we are a bigger club than Chelsea or that we deserve more. We showed good performances in the last few games, and I’m happy, but we have to keep working hard. We’ve only had 14 games in the PL and it’s too early to think about the end of the season.”
Whether or not those comments were lost in translation from a man who is still getting used to English as his second language, Pochettino clearly felt Spurs deserved more than the point they got and it’s apparent from the differing predicaments both teams find themselves in that Spurs have more chance of winning the title and finishing in the top four than Chelsea this season.