BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Saturday’s 2-2 home draw vs. Montreal was as thrilling as it was heartbreaking.
After a dull first half that saw the hosts go into the locker room down 1-0, head coach Frank Klopas made two bold midfield substitutions, bringing on Chris Rolfe and Alex for Dilly Duka and Logan Pause respectively.
Their impact was felt immediately as the pair set up the chance that eventually saw Mike Magee equalize in the 57th minute.
Ever the opportunist, Magee dispossessed Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins and poached his second of the night in the 73rd minute, giving him the first multi-goal game since joining the Fire in May.
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Five minutes later Patrick Nyarko earned a penalty and Magee, looking for his second hat trick of the 2013 MLS campaign confidently took the ball and placed it on the spot only to see his stuttered attempt come back off the underside of the cross bar.
“It won’t be the last one I miss,” Magee told reporters following the match. “I’m confident taking them, I’ll bury the next one but that’s a situation where I gotta put it away for the team. That’s a big goal, one I don’t miss or shy away from – pressure doesn’t get to me – I came back and tried to bury it. It wasn’t my time.
Magee nearly bagged his third again just four minutes later. Following up on Juan Luis Anangono’s hit off the post, the Chicago native saw his attempt cleared off the line by Hassoun Camara.
And a freak deflection off a clearance by Jeff Larentowicz in the 87th minute saw Maxim Tissot come through on the left and power a prayerful header past Sean Johnson and inside the far post.
Despite doing all the team’s scoring, Magee continued to shoulder the blame for the draw, the third match in the last month that the Fire have dropped points by conceding late goals.
“I gotta bury that PK and the game’s over. Tonight’s on me. You can’t keep expecting your defense to go up and bail you out. We gotta put away one of these games and take the pressure off our defense. Tonight’s on me.”
Larentowicz wouldn’t accept Magee taking any blame for the result.
“He’s being magnanimous. He had a good game, he scored two goals," said the Fire vice captain. "You can’t ask him to do anything else. That’s very noble of him [to say] but no one feels that way. I think he played a great game, he scores two goals and it should be enough.”
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Pointing to Magee’s team-leading 12 goals and injection of confidence in to the team since joining in May, Rolfe agreed with Larentowicz’s assessment.
“We had the chances to finish the game. If we look back on every other game we’ve had, we’ve been in the same situation. When he misses a chance, look at how many times Mike has helped us this year. There’s no need to put any of the blame on him.
Ever the leader, Magee refused to say the result was tough to swallow, already beginning to focus on next Friday’s game at D.C. United.
“It’s not tough at all. We move on. There’s not enough time to cry or feel bad for ourselves.
“We have four games left and we’re going to make the playoffs.”