BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- About an hour into Saturday night’s game vs. Portland, a bad feeling hit most in attendance at Toyota Park.
Throughout the first half, the team had trouble dealing with the high pressure and fluid attacking style from Portland and might have been lucky to go into the break down just 1-0 after the Timbers hit the bar three times inside the first four minutes.
“I think we came in at halftime knowing we were all out of sorts in the first half, not knowing when to press,” said Mike Magee. “We came in at halftime and said if we’re going to lose, lets go out swinging.”
Though there was a noticeable improvement in the Fire attack to start the second frame, the hosts got caught out again when an unmarked Ben Zemanski cleanly finished off Frederic Piquionne’s low cross fromthe right to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
That sinking feeling could have set it but back to the rescue came Magee.
Ten minutes after the goal, Magee chased down what looked to be an overhit pass from Alex, muscled Timbers defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste off the ball and forced ‘keeper Milos Kocic to spill it as he came of his line, leaving the Fire striker with an easy finish into an empty net.
The goal made Magee the first player in Fire history to score in each of his first three competitive appearances for the club.
The emotional leader of the Fire team on the night, as vice-captain Jeff Larentowicz made way for Daniel Paladini two minutes, it was Magee, who took the captain’s armband.
In the 81st minute, Magee was hauled down 25 yards from goal, popped back up and looked to take the free kick but substitute midfielder Daniel Paladini had other ideas, lining up a fantastic 25-yard effort that curled over the wall and inside the left post to level the match.
“I wanted to take it,” said Magee. “He called it first and I said ‘No, I got it’ and he said its from my spot and in that situation you have to give it to him.”
“When I walked up to it, that’s the spot I usually practice from the most,” confirmed Paladini. “He backed up and told me to hit it.”
“Obviously he’ll get free kicks from now on,” joked Magee. “I won’t argue with it again.
"Coming in at that moment, knowing I already had one goal and to call me off and then put it in the upper 90, that’s a good teammate to have.”
The goal capped a fantastic Fire comeback 2-2 draw in a game that looked to be lost at the hour mark.
QUOTES: Fire vs. Timbers
The Fire remain unbeaten since acquiring Magee from the LA Galaxy two weeks ago and though Saturday’s result wasn’t a win, the Chicago native said it still felt satisfying.
“I’m thinking about how this is probably the best feeling tie I’ve had in a long time. Its kind weird to say getting a tie at home but for some reason it feels good just the way we fought and responded down 2-0.”
“Something like this can turn your season around.”