With Fire’s playoff berth on line, Mike Magee’s focus on Red Bulls
BY PATRICK Z. McGAVIN For Sun-Times Media October 26, 2013 11:44PM
Mike Magee, scoring on Impact goalie Troy Perkins on Sept. 28, is tied for the league lead with 20 goals. | AP
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:54AM
The action at Toyota Park last Saturday was a veritable split-screen, divided between what unfolded on the field and on the TV monitors broadcasting the Columbus Crew-New England Revolution game.
The 1-0 victory over Toronto FC on Mike Magee’s penalty kick boosted the Fire’s playoff chances but didn’t seal a berth as the Revs pulled out a 3-2 victory to deny the outright clinch.
For the fourth time in franchise history, the Fire goes into the last game of the regular season playing for a postseason berth.
The team is energized by its sharper play recently but nervous about the uncertainty. Riding a season-best three-game winning streak, the Fire (14-12-7, 49 points) is tied for third with the Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference.
The Revs and the Houston Dynamo are a point behind with 48 apiece.
The Impact was beaten by Toronto FC 1-0 on Saturday night. Striker Robert Earnshaw scored the goal.
The Fire has the most difficult closing game of the four teams fighting for berths: a road game Sunday against the Eastern Conference-leading New York Red Bulls (16-9-8, 56 points) in Harrison, N.J.
A Fire win or draw would ensure a playoff spot. If the Fire loses and doesn’t score five goals, it would need a Revs draw or loss at Columbus or a Dynamo draw or loss at D.C. United.
“We’ve got to win [against the Red Bulls] from the way I see it,” Magee said. “I’m not going to watch any other scores or anything like that. Until somebody tells us we’re in the playoffs, the other games are meaningless, and this is the most important game of the year for us.”
The playoff push has magnified the importance of each game. Coach Frank Klopas said the adversity the team has dealt with has only made it stronger.
“In that sense, this team is better than the one I had last year that won 17 games,” Klopas said. “Now we’ve put ourselves in a spot where [the playoffs] are really up to us.”
Magee is chasing a personal honor, the league’s Golden Boot as top scorer. Impact forward Marco Di Vaio and Magee are tied with 20 goals. Vancouver Whitecaps forward Camilo Sanvezzo has 19 goals.