A noon soccer game is a little too early for Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee.
"I can never eat breakfast, so I was forcing pasta down my throat at like 9 a.m., which is miserable, but besides that I enjoyed not having to wait around all day," Magee said after the Fire's 2-1 victory against the Columbus Crew on Thursday afternoon in a U.S. Open Cup match postponed from Wednesday night due to the weather. "But I'll take the later games because I was dead out there today because I feel like I had three things of pasta and about eight grapes."
It's not just Magee, it's the entire starting lineup that needs to find a way to get going early in games. The team has fallen into a rut of starting poorly but finishing well.
"Obviously, we want to correct the fact that we've had terrible starts the last couple of games, but all that matters is winning," said Magee, who tied Thursday's game at 1-1 with his goal in the 28th minute. "As soon as we put together a full 90 minutes, we're going to be a (heck) of a team, I think.
"It's definitely a concern because you're not always going to get out of them. The Portland game, obviously, we let in two and we dug ourselves out of it. That was too much work to do on a weekly basis. We've got to correct that sooner rather than later."
The addition of Magee, as well as central defender Bakary Soumare, corrected problems that afflicted the Fire the early part of this season. Since trading separately for Magee and Soumare at the end of May, the Fire has scored 9 goals in five matches, both MLS and USOC, and has gone 3-0-2, with Magee scoring in all four games he's played. In the first 10 MLS games this season, the Fire scored just 6 goals and was 2-6-1.
Magee is earning that "Magic Mike" nickname around Toyota Park.
The Fire remains in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but it's making moves toward seventh, and Thursday's win has it into the USOC quarterfinals against Orlando City FC on June 26 at Toyota Park.
"I think we calmed the group down and decided to take it one game at a time -- actually, one day at a time," said midfielder Patrick Nyarko, who scored the game-winning goal with a diving header of a Chris Rolfe cross in the 78th minute.
Next up is Colorado in MLS play Wednesday night at Toyota Park and a chance to pick up some points in the standings. Expect Magee to be well-nourished for that 7:30 p.m. start, and check to see that his teammates are well-motivated.
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