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Mike Magee steps up as Fire rallies from 2 down to salvage tie

Updated: July 10, 2013 7:03AM

Personnel executives and the coaching staff of the Fire have hesitated to proclaim that forward Mike Magee is the answer to what has been a disappointing 2013 ­season.

But the three games in which Magee has played since being traded to the team May 25 have given them reason to be a little less cautious when touting the influence be could have on the roster.

Magee’s 68th-minute goal Saturday against the Portland Timbers at Toyota Park sparked a thrilling comeback by the Fire in a 2-2 tie, but his emotional leadership has been just as important of an ­influence.

“It’s fantastic,” coach Frank ­Klopas said. “The two moves that we made [adding Magee and ­Bakary Soumare], you can see the big difference on the field already and we’re not that far off. I do feel we need to add a couple more ­pieces.”

It is apparent that Magee has earned the trust of his teammates and Klopas.

Vocal after goals by the Timbers’ Diego Valeri in the 33rd minute and Ben Zemanski in the 58th minute put the visitors up 2-0, Klopas ordered Magee to take the captain’s armband in the 70th minute after the coach ­removed Saturday’s captain, Jeff Larentowicz, from the game.

Twelve minutes later Magee, who has scored in each of the three games he has played with the Fire, showed why he’s been able to earn the respect of his teammates so quickly.

After drawing a foul in the 82nd minute 26 yards from goal, Magee wanted to take the free kick. But midfielder Daniel Paladini called him off saying it was “his spot.”

Magee agreed and Paladini found the net, capping off the Fire’s two-goal rally.

“I was looking for something, even for myself, because I was finding a hard time getting the ball,” Magee said.

“I apologized to the ref like four times. I didn’t mean to yell at him. I was telling him I’m just yelling, I’m just trying to show emotion and light a fire under whoever’s looking. Something like this can kind of turn your season around.”

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