Mike Magee’s penalty kick buoys Fire’s playoff chances
BY PATRICK McGAVIN For Sun-Ties Media October 19, 2013 11:39PM
Updated: November 21, 2013 6:59AM
Mike Magee was not going to miss twice.
With his team in a must-win situation to keep its playoff hopes alive, Magee scored his 20th goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 64th minute as the Fire defeated Toronto FC 1-0 at Toyota Park in its final home match of the regular season Saturday night.
Three weeks ago, Magee said the Fire’s 2-2 draw with the Montreal Impact hinged on his failure to convert a second-half penalty kick.
Magee has scored 14 of his goals since the Fire acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy in late May. The goal was set up by consecutive handballs called against the visitors. The first infraction came about 20 yards outside the box. On Magee’s ensuing free kick, a defender on the wall was ruled for the illegal touch in the box.
Magee calmly addressed the ball and appeared to freeze goalkeeper Stefan Frei, pulling him left of the net as he punched the ball into the right corner of the net.
The Fire (14-12-7, 49 points) registered a season-best three-game winning streak. The victory illustrated the wild swings of the last month. Two weeks ago, the Fire stood in eighth place of the Eastern Conference.
The New England Revolution’s 3-2 victory over Columbus Crew denied the Fire the chance to clinch a playoff spot.
“We just worry about the next game,” Fire coach Frank Klopas said. “The adversity in the beginning that we experienced has made us a better team.’
The Fire dominated possession time and shot opportunities. Defender Austin Berry hit the post in the 50th minute. Forward Juan Luis Anangono recorded six shots on goal. Magee delivered him a beautiful through ball, but Anangono’s blast grazed the underside of the crossbar before bouncing out.
“We felt like we controlled the game. We hit the post a few times, but at the same time, what we didn’t want to give up was a set piece,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said.
Star keeper Sean Johnson recorded two saves, the most important in the 74th minute.
After a free kick by Toronto FC deflected off the Fire’s wall, Johnson made a superb diving one-handed stop of the redirect that preserved the victory.
The beat goes on for the Fire.
“Any day we go without soccer is a bad day for us,” Klopas said.