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.