Mike Magee probably means more to the Chicago Fire than can be measured in goals.
A winning mentality just can't be quantified, and his teammates learned after Sunday afternoon's lackluster 2-1 home defeat to Sporting Kansas City that Magee doesn't take losing well. There was no joy in the halftime announcement that fans voted him an MLS All-Star, a subject he preferred to defer talking about after the game.
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"I'm still fuming from this game. Obviously, I really wanted it yesterday, and today all I'm thinking about how is badly this loss feels, at home in front of the biggest crowd we've had since I've been here," said Magee, acquired in a May 25 trade. "We literally laid down."
The Fire renewed its habit of falling behind early, this time giving up two goals before many of the season-high 17,735 fans at Toyota Park could put on their sun block. Benny Feilhaber beat goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi with a rocket off the left post in the sixth minute, and Graham Zusi curled in a 24-yard shot to the far post in the eighth.
Magee scored the Fire's lone goal in the 38th minute, his fifth in MLS play for the Fire, 11th overall this season.
"It was all in the start," coach Frank Klopas said. "We needed to have a good start in the game. It's very difficult when you fall behind that early 2-0 because now on a hot day like this you have to put a lot of energy to come back."
"It's déjà vu," Magee added. "We've been saying it after every game, it's going to catch up to us, and then obviously tonight it did."
The Fire looked gassed much of the second half in a way that SKC didn't, possessing the ball just 38 percent of the final 45 minutes while putting just 2 shots on goal.
"I think we felt the game was tied or we were winning and we were just going to sit back and be content," Magee said. "Unfortunately we were down 2-1, so it wasn't a very good game plan."
The loss was Magee's first in a Fire jersey and snapped the Fire's nine-game unbeaten streak, including its run to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
"We start playing well, we start making it tough for teams to play us at home, and then we go down 2-1. It's OK if the soccer is not good and we're not creating chances, but I can't remember a time in the second half where in the run of play we had three players attacking the box. It's a joke.
"It's unacceptable to think that we're basically, it seemed like we were just content to lose the game 2-1. We weren't going to send numbers and we weren't going to take gambles. We were just going to kind of just say, 'OK, it's hot. Cool, let's go home and enjoy the rest of our Sunday', which makes me sick."
Magee won the last two MLS Cup championships with the Los Angeles Galaxy. It sounds like he brought that winning mentality to the Fire, a club that missed the MLS playoffs two seasons in a row before being eliminated in the first round in 2012.
If Magee transfers that mentality to his teammates, the Fire could be a lot of fun to watch the second half of this season.
Follow Orrin on Twitter@orrin_schwarz